Music interview: Simple Minds
Duncan Seaman - 'Yorkshire Evening Post' - 10th January 2013 (UK)

"FORMED in the white heat of punk rock and New Wave yet raised on glam, prog and electronic pop, Simple Minds became perhaps the ultimate band of the MTV generation with their worldwide hit Don't You (Forget About Me), en route to stadium-filling superstardom.

Yet exactly which phase of the Glasgow band's career you identify with is a divisive issue within the millions who've bought their records over the past 35 years.

It's a point acknowledged by Jim Kerr, their frontman through thick and thin over three-and-a-half decades, as the band gears up for a greatest hits tour.

Critical reverence is generally reserved for a quintet of albums that Simple Minds recorded in the flush of youth, between 1979 and 1982. Yet the records that the public bought by the lorryload were Sparkle in the Rain, Once Upon a Time and Street Fighting Years, later albums in which the band favoured a grander sound and more politicised outlook than before.

"I don't think we lost anything; I think we changed," reflects Kerr, now 53, on Simple Minds' transition from cult act to stadium rockers. "It's one of things about Simple Minds – people would say which Simple Minds? The art rock? Electronic? Post-punk? The pop? The political? We even did folk music with Belfast Child. There's some scope there.

"I don't think we lost something; we added. When you do that there is a loss of innocence."

Simple Minds' forthcoming Academy Group tour is the second stage in a masterplan to reposition the band for the 21st century. Shows last year focused on their first five albums – Life in a Day, Empires and Dance, Real to Real Cacophony, Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call and New Gold Dream (81, 82, 83, 84) – reissued in the corresponding box set 5x5. Now comes the big hits.

"It was the second part of the plan, really," says Kerr. "A few years ago we got new management and a new relationship with our record company. Our whole catalogue had not been worked on for some time. As we were simultaneously working on new stuff we thought should refresh [older] things with new sleeves, remastering."

Retracing those old steps has clearly been an interesting exercise for Kerr and long-time band mates Charlie Burchill and Mel Gaynor.

"I think the band was a very special band," Kerr recognises. "Those early albums, I don't think any of them reached perfection but there was a lot of great imagination going on.

"It was enforced bravery – we did not know who we were, really. We had to investigate – in doing that, a lot of gems were uncovered.

"It was an interesting period in the band. We did five albums in two and a half years. As I recall, we seemed to be touring all the time. There was a creative energy and a physical energy in the band.

"We were one of the few bands of a new generation coming up. A lot of people liked it. Fast forward to us being on MTV five times a day, our records were being sold in Tesco, I can see why for some people it's no longer for them. We have sort of an audience within an audience."

Performing songs such as I Travel and Sweat in Bullet for the first time in years was clearly refreshing.

"Some of them I knew it was going to be fun [to perform again] but I really did not think we would connect as well after this time as we did," says Kerr. "Some of them are like an old jacket I would not wear any more or would not fit.

"We knew it was an exercise in nostalgia when we did that. You can't go back, that was then, this is now. The emphasis was to conjure up those times. Thanks to the band, I think a pretty good job was done."

Was there ever a point when the band consciously decided to write catchy songs to appeal to the mainstream? It was there all along, says Kerr.

"One of the failings of our debut album [Life in a Day] was we felt it was too catchy, too commercial. The gigs leading up to it there was more of a Velvet Underground side to us... in our dreams, anyway. By the time it became our debut album it was more like The Cars or the Boomtown Rats. We did an about-turn with the next few albums. A song like Chelsea Girl [on Life in a Day], you could not get a hookier chorus."

He admits that at times the band "turned our backs on it", writing artier music that later came to be much loved by the likes of the Manic Street Preachers. But ultimately they rather enjoyed being a successful pop group.

"When I was talking earlier today they were playing Alive and Kicking in the background," Kerr says. "It sounded like a great American pop record, a big MTV song. Did we consciously do that? Yes, we did."

New Gold Dream is seen as the record that captured them midway been art rock and mainstream appeal. It gifted them their first top 20 hits, in Promised You a Miracle and Glittering Prize. Did they feel at that stage they'd finally cracked it?

"I didn't think, 'This is it, we've cracked it'; we thought what was coming out of the speakers sounded glorious," says Kerr.

"Finally we had a record where all the pieces come together in a great band. New Gold Dream was a great title for it – it was like alchemy. It just seemed everything we tried sounded like we wanted it to. It sounded strong. From that point of view we might have felt, 'This is it'."

It seems the rumours about Simple Minds getting cold feet over their biggest hit, however, are true. They were encouraged to record the song – written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff – for the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club by their American record company.

"It's true, were nervous about it," Kerr admits. "The demo we heard it was not any great shakes. We were working on stuff that we thought was shaping up really well. We turned it down about half a dozen times.

"When the writer-producer came over we liked him as a geezer more than the song. He sweet-talked us, we gave it a go. None of us thought it would turn out the way it did."

Celebrate - The Greatest Hits +
Duncan Seaman - 'Yorkshire Evening Post'- 29th March 2013 (UK)

Jim Kerr hit the nail on the head when, in a recent interview with this newspaper, he talked about the diverse nature of his band's audience.

"It's one of things about Simple Minds – people would say which Simple Minds? The art rock, electronic, post-punk, the pop, the political? We even did folk music with Belfast Child. There's some scope there."

Only perhaps the most loyal of fans would cleave to the band's entire output through their 35-year existence.

Thankfully this three-CD collection allows adherents to pick and choose their favourite eras from 1979 to the present day.

Their early material, from the catchy Life in a Day to the itchy I Travel, teem with post-punk energy but it's the run of tracks from the albums Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call to New Gold Dream that are perhaps their most interesting, capturing the band as they developed a sound that was cinematic in scope yet sufficiently arty to appease those who liked them in their earlier Velvet Underground-meets-Neu! phase.

From 1985 they shifted up a couple of gears commercially thanks largely to the transatlantic appeal of Don't You (Forget About Me) and the radio staple Alive and Kicking; from then on it your enjoyment of CDs two and three very much depends on how overblown and message-driven you like your rock to be.

New tracks Blood Diamonds and Broken Glass Park at least hint that an artistic renaissance may not be too far away.

4 out of 5

Wolverhampton Civic Hall 06/04/2013
Ian Harvey - 'Express & Star' - 8th April 2013 (UK)

It was called the Greatest Hits tour but Simple Minds' concert at the Civic delivered much more than that.

In a show lasting over two hours and split into two sets, this was a band looking both into its past and into its future and finding that the two can co-exist quite happily.

Lead singer Jim Kerr has said that the band's current direction is being influenced by their past, following their last critically-acclaimed tour which saw them playing songs exclusively from their first five albums.

So Andy Gillespie's keyboards effortlessly transported the Civic back to the 80s as they opened with Broken Glass Park, going back to the future with a brand new song dripping in their old sounds.

But the hits were soon to kick in, with the triple whammy of Waterfront, Once Upon A Time and Up On The Catwalk getting the fans dancing and singing along. Kerr was the consummate frontman as he prowled around, bathed in light from the huge lighting rig which took up the whole of the back of the stage.

The first set ended with I Travel, from 1980s Empires and Dance and after a short break Simple Minds were back with the instrumental Book of Brilliant Things and a solo showcase for backing singer Sarah Brown on a cover of Kraftwerk's Neon Lights.

The second set, with its concentration on the band's stadium years, saw guitarist Charlie Burchill playing a more influential role as the band powered through massive hits including Promised You A Miracle and Glittering Prize as well as the powerful She's A River. But they still found time for new song Blood Diamonds and a couple of their earliest tracks in The American and Love Song.

Don't You (Forget About Me) provoked the biggest crowd singalong of the night, with Kerr joking: "You're going to make them jealous in Birmingham and Coventry."

Simple Minds faltered strangely though on the encores. "Can we please play a few more?" Kerr teased before a rousing Sanctify Yourself gave way not to another big hit but to Space, a real box set obscurity that had some fans looking nonplussed.

All was forgiven though with the evening's inevitable climax, Alive and Kicking provoking a final huge singalong.

Dome, Brighton 10/04/2013
Marshy - '' - 10th April 2013 (UK)

Formed in Glasgow in 1977 from the ashes of Johnny and the Self Abusers, Simple Minds were about to set off on an incredible journey that would spawn 15 studio albums (to date), reaching the height of their popularity in the mid 80's with Sparkle In The Rain and Once Upon A Time.

Sandwiched between these 2 hugely successful long players came the monster hit Don't You (Forget About Me), which appeared on the soundtrack to the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club; although not penned by the band themselves, this is by far the bands most recognised song on both sides of the Atlantic.

Still going strong after over 35 years, original members Jim Kerr (vocals) and Charlie Burchill (guitars) are now into their early 50's, along with another long time member of the band – drummer Mel Gaynor, who joined in 1982 following an appearance as a session musician on the New Gold Dream album.

With Andy Gillespie (keyboards) and Ged Grimes (bass) completing the line-up – not forgetting backing vocalist Sarah Brown – the band have embarked on a huge 30+ date tour, predominantly within the UK, under the 'Greatest Hits+' moniker. With such a massive back catalogue to cherry pick from the show lasts a mammoth 2 and a half hours, although the band do take a much needed rest at a midway interval with the schedule placing a noticeable demand on Kerr particularly.

Entering to rapturous applause from the Brighton crowd, the group take the stage to the sound of a new song – Broken Glass Park. Historically the band has often begun with the distinctive bass thumping of Waterfront which has always served as an immediate thrill for the audience and this follows the opener. Sounding as pristine as ever, old favourites Once Upon A Time and Up On The Catwalk then appear, melding into one another to keep the early momentum going.

A brilliant rendition of All The Things She Said proves to be a first half highlight before another classic Glittering Prize takes over. The brilliant I Travel from 1980's Empires and Dance closes the first part of the show, driven by its unique keyboard sound from when synthesizers were still in their infancy within popular music.

When the interval is over, Burchill and Gillespie play a short instrumental version of live favourite Book Of Brilliant Things and although enjoyable it is a shame that the superb In The City Of Light version taken from a Paris gig in 1986 isn't recreated in full. Sarah Brown then takes centre stage for a beautifully sung Kraftwerk song, Neon Lights, before Kerr returns once again to lead the band through more classic work including Someone Somewhere In Summertime, She's A River, and excellent non-album track The American.

The biggest crowd pleaser then appears in the shape of Don't You (Forget About Me), rolling back the years to recreate the effect that the bands music had in their heyday, with the upper tier of the Dome exploding in a sea of activity as the 'La la la la's' were thrown to the audience to shout/scream/sing – take your pick.

Wrapping up the show with encore songs Sanctify Yourself, Space and possibly the bands second best known track Alive And Kicking (which again has the crowd in raptures), they bid farewell to the crowd; a noticeably weary but genuinely appreciative Kerr thanked everyone for supporting the band for so many years and for coming to see them once again (for about the 10th time during the show) and then the band disappear into the shadows.

At times a brilliant show that rolled back the years, the audience left for a happy journey home, albeit with the occasional comment at the disappointment of not hearing the bands only UK number 1 hit single and lost classic, Belfast Child. Perhaps the band choose not to play this song any more as it was written in the aftermath of the Enniskillen bombing in 1987; probably not suitable to a tour supporting the new Greatest Hits package entitled Celebrate. But celebrate you certainly should that Simple Minds are still capable of producing such fine shows.

Celebrate - The Greatest Hits +
J.C. Maçek III - '' - 20th June 2013 (UK)

Excellent Retrospective, But Far From the Only Simple Minds Collection Available.

Simple Minds are best known for their huge hit "Don't You (Forget About Me)" from The Breakfast Club's soundtrack, and with good reason. It's a great song from a classic film. Of course, this was far from their "debut single" (the band had been around for eight years prior to that 1985 release) and their strong following from the late 1970s forward showed a bit or resentment toward the band's Top 40 success, as opposed to their "post punk" origins.

The band's 2013 retrospective boxset Celebrate – The Greatest Hits + features 50 songs over the band's long career and serves as just about the best possible remedy for such fan angst. At least, it's the most encapsulated and detailed collection of their many musical branches and changes over the years before and after their biggest (but far from only) big hit.

Divided into three CDs, the retrospective contains 16 songs from the band's 1979-1984 era on the first disc, 16 from the 1985-1991 era on the second disc, and 16 (plus two new, original tracks) from the 1995-2013 era on the third disc. From the opening track (the title song from their 1979 debut Life in a Day), it's easy to see why Simple Minds have been considered prime examples and even innovators of the "New Wave" movement. With experimental sounds, driving rhythms (exemplified by songs like "Changeling" and " I Travel") and even occasionally heavy guitars, all surrounding the direct and even electronically droning voice of Jim Kerr, Simple Minds may have sounded a lot like other bands of the era, but that is partially because they were helping lay down the groundwork for this burgeoning electronic movement.

Throughout the first disc, Kerr's voice grows and expands from a basic low "progressive" tenor to a more dynamic and expansive range. This same evolution impacted his keyboard playing, which reached new heights of experimentation during this period. The instrumental "Theme for Great Cities" showcases his haunting key-style as it carries the listener through an electronic themed soundscape with no lyrics to ground it.

This evolution sets the stage for the band's second era (represented by the second disc) that logically kicks off with "Don't You (Forget About Me)". The first half of the second disc comprises a series of recognizable hits from "Alive and Kicking" and "All The Things She Said" to "Promised You a Miracle". "Sanctify Yourself" marks a certain INXS style to their sound, which is interesting because this era also marked Simple Minds' delving into more Christian and politically themed lyrics, drawing inevitable comparisons to U2.

"Ghost Dancing" and "Belfast Child" (the latter of which features a series of beautiful guitar leads and solos) set the stage for protest songs like "Mandela Day" and Simple Minds' remake of Peter Gabriel's "Biko". The band continues with more of a rock and roll bend for the rest of the disc, showcasing some very fine guitar work by Charlie Burchill on "See the Lights", the band's last Top 40 single.

Kerr's voice is almost unrecognizable as the same one that opened the 1979-1984 era. As more gospel and choral influences took hold of the band, Kerr's voice handled every step. The 1995-2013 era, though not a commercial highlight for the band, also avoids any sort of musical stagnation as the band continues to evolve their rock and roll sound. Songs like 2002's "Cry" and 2005's "Home" both show the band's continuing capabilities. Even the two new tracks, "Blood Diamonds" and "Broken Glass Park" sound like what they are, new songs from the evolved band that gave us "Don't You (Forget About Me)" and other cool 1980s songs, neither trapped in that bygone decade nor forgetting what made them such successes to begin with.

Celebrate proves to be an excellent retrospective of the best of the band and a wonderful primer for new listeners. That said, questions arise about the necessity of this release, simply because this is neither the first boxset nor the first hits compilation for the prolific band. The vast majority of Celebrate can be found on 2001's The Best of Simple Minds, with even more available on 2007's Sunday Express Live and 2004's five disc Silver Box. Further blunting the argument for necessity is that there are actually too many songs to fit on three discs. To facilitate their inclusion, over half of the songs are edited to slightly shorter versions. While this isn't the end of the world and there isn't an actual bad song on any of the discs, Simple Minds fans will find little in the new compilation that they don't already have, so they might as well download the few tracks they lack and create their own Deluxe Celebration.

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Newmarket Racecourse 21/06/2013
'Cambridge News'- 22nd June 2013 (UK)

The first time I saw Simple Minds was at the height of their 80s pomp, playing to 80,000 people in Leeds' Roundhay Park in that period when they briefly threatened to edge ahead of Celtic rivals U2 in the race for global rock supremacy. The last time I saw them was six years later, by which time they were already starting to look like an anachronism amidst the white heat of the Britpop revolution.

The intervening two decades have brought mixed fortunes for the Scottish rockers: while they've largely failed to generate much interest in their new material, they remain a solid live draw, and have enjoyed something of a critical reappraisal, particularly for their experimental early period (Simple Minds, lest we forget, were doing Teutonic dance-rock a good decade before U2 decamped to Berlin with Brian Eno).

Tonight's show is their first at a racecourse, and Jim Kerr admits to some hesitation: playing to the faithful is one thing, holding the attention of refreshed turf enthusiasts quite another. Are Simple Minds, to put it bluntly, a party band?

The signs don't look good when the first thing I overhear is a beery lad telling his mates "Do you think we can ask them to play it first?" – presumably a reference to Don't You (Forget About Me), the band's signature anthem and, gallingly for them (and their bank manager) the only one of their hits they didn't write.

Against this backdrop, it's brave to open with a newie, but the hypnotic pulse of Broken Glass Park succeeds in luring the stragglers out of the Pimm's bar and, a few minutes later, any lingering doubts are firmly dispelled by those mighty slabs of bass that introduce Waterfront.

From then on in, the set majors on songs from the early to mid-80s, from the sequenced, eyelinered synthpop of The American and Love Song to breast-beating stadium anthems like Once Upon A Time and All The Things She Said.

There's nothing from Street Fighting Years – the album that famously killed them in America with its lyrical preoccupations with apartheid, the Irish Troubles, the Poll Tax and the siting of Polaris missiles off the Scottish coast. But 1991's Real Life is represented by the gorgeous Let There Be Love and a revelatory See The Lights, which is a bit mimsy on record but sounds positively muscular here.

Kerr is a frontman of the old-skool, unselfconscious about wielding a mic stand above his head, while his on-stage patter consists of repeatedly shouting "Is everybody okay?" like Neil Kinnock at that Labour rally. But he, like the rest of the band, is in fine fettle tonight, and as the sun sets over the July Course, the majestic Someone Somewhere in Summertime has never sounded better.

When it comes, Don't You (Forget About Me) elicits some triumphant call and response action from the crowd, as does set closer Alive and Kicking. For an encore, we get Sanctify Yourself and New Gold Dream: watching well-fed racegoers of a certain age in their Premier Enclosure finery rattling their jewellery along to latter's piledriving electropop is something to behold.

The band are clearly delighted by the response, as well they might be. And that's when it strikes me that, with their prolific use of woah-woahs, yeah-yeahs and hey-hey-hey-heys, backed by a powerhouse rhythm section that positively dares you to stand still, Simple Minds might just be the perfect party band after all. Who knew?

Celebrate - The Greatest Hits +
'Brooklyn Rocks' - 31st July 2013 (USA)

Simple Minds was last in NYC for a show at Beacon Theatre (with INXS) in June of 2002 so it is a pretty big deal that the band is returning to the US for the first time in over a decade. This is probably the longest that Simple Minds has had a consistent line-up as, 4/5 of the 2002 lineup are still in the band - Jim Kerr (Vocals), Charlie Burchill (Guitar), Mel Gaynor (Drums) and Andy Gillespie (Keyboards) are joined by newcomer Ged Grimes (bass).

The band is playing a seven-date mini-tour in October and which includes stops at Roseland Ballroom on October 24th (ticket prices range from $59.50 - $79.75 and Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey on October 17th.

Simple Minds are touring behind a new 3CD / 50-song greatest hits collection, Celebrate, and had been playing 25 of these songs (with no variations) each night during the UK leg of the Celebrate tour which took place earlier in the spring.

Celebrate is an interesting and enjoyable listen as the thress discs trace the band's evolution from the jittery 'art school' punk of the band's first recording to the experimental, minimalistic post-punk sounds of the following albums to a brief sojourn through New Romantic, finally breaking big in the US with bombastic stadium rock. This evolution of the band's sound is full captured on Disc One this disc ends with the band shaking off the last bits of new wave.

In an interview last year with The Guardian UK, Jim Kerr talked about the band's move to stadium rock:

Does he regret that? "Regret is a strong word because it implies that you carry it around, and I wouldn't say I do. I'd hate to seem begrudging of success, but at the same time I'd like to be honest enough to say maybe we shouldn't have cashed in all the chips. It's a bit overwhelming when your band is no longer your own, you become an industry within an industry, but I'm very wary of going 'poor us'. C'mon, it's what you dream of. We wanted to be a great band and take it around the world, that's still what we work for."

Disc Two starts with "Don't You Forget About Me" and, after getting past the radio hits of Once Upon a Time, the band seemingly tries to follow Bono, Mike Peters (The Alarm) and others down a path of bombastic activism. Simple Minds lost their mojo with Street Fighting Years (along with long-time keyboardist Mick MacNeil) and Disc Two ends with two tracks from 1991's snooze fest Real Life.

Disc Three is a great compilation as it pulls out the best tracks from Simple Minds' somewhat hit and miss early 90's – mid 00's releases. This disc ends on a strong note as Simple Minds seemed to hit a second wind with albums like 2005's Black and White 050505 and 2009's Graffiti Soul. [Q Magazine said that Graffiti Soul "…might be the best album Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill have put together since 1984's "Sparkle In The Rain."] The final two tracks on the disc, "Blood Diamonds" and "Broken Glass Park", are new and follow in the spirit and sound of Graffiti Soul.

Given the recent flood of Simple Minds' box sets and compilations, I think the real question with this release is whether the world needs yet another 'best of' compilation as the two new tracks can be purchased individually from iTunes. As points of comparison: this CD is available for $22.82 on Amazon, last year's X5 release (the first five [best] Simple Minds albums + some non-LP singles] is on Amazon for $33.99, Live 5x5documents the band's 2012 tour with five songs from each of the band's first five albums (essentially a live greatest hits compilation). This 2CD set is available on Amazon for $17.21. Lastly, there is the 2CD + DVD set, The Best of Simple Minds, which is available from Amazon.UK for £8.43 (which shouldn't be more than $16, with shipping). The DVD included with this set is the "Live in Verona" show, which include 13 songs recorded in Paris in 1989 and 6 songs recorded in Newcastle in 1982.

Return To South Africa 'Special' For Simple Minds
Evan Milton - '' - 19th August 2013 (SA)

As Simple Minds enter their fourth decade of making and performing music, Scotland's most successful rock band return to South Africa to play hits like Alive and Kicking, Don't You (Forget About Me) and Waterfront – and visit a country they helped reach democracy.

Simple Minds have topped the charts for decades with songs like 1985's smash hit Don't You (Forget About Me) from the film, The Breakfast Club, to the album Graffiti Soul, which hit the UK Top 10 in 2009.

Alongside the feel-good, slow-dance and stadium anthem songs were political works like Belfast Child and Mandela Day, and the band headlined the Nelson Mandela – An International Tribute for a Free South Africa event at Britain's Wembley Stadium in 1990, alongside Peter Gabriel, Tracey Chapman and Hugh Masekela, with the recently freed Nelson Mandela in attendance.

Musically, the band have straddled art-rock and avant garde inclinations, pop and stadium rock hits as well as folk and instrumental pieces.

They're listed as key influencers by artists as diverse as Moby and Primal Scream, and have been sampled by a new generation of artist like David Guetta and Nicky Minaj.

hrough it all, though, Simple Minds have always aimed to be an unforgettable live band experience and, following the success of their 5x5 international tour (playing five songs each from their first five albums), frontman Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill return to South Africa after shows in 1995 as part of their international Greatest Hits tour.

Co-founder and frontman Kerr answers the telephone at his hotel in Italy with a confession.

"Here we are, me and Charlie Burchill, my songwriting partner, behaving like kids, riding around on Vespas and eating one too many ice-creams. But all that will change in a few days time when we start listening to our drummer banging away on a snare for hours at a time.

"Then, we're looking forward to coming to South Africa. It's belated. It's been a long time, and we only had one opportunity to play in your country, and we enjoyed it immensely. I imagine that everyone says that, but it's true for us."

Part of Kerr and company's happiness at playing in South Africa is their involvement in the cultural boycott against this country's apartheid government, part of chipping away to achieve change and democracy.

"Chipping away," says Kerr. "I think that's a good way to put it. We definitely did do a bit to try and change things, and that obviously makes it more special for us, because we've got some sort of dialogue with the country. We're looking forward to getting there, and giving it 100 percent. Because that's what we do and, because of that, we've managed to have a lengthy career, that I hope will continue."

"Then, we're looking forward to coming to South Africa. It's belated. It's been a long time, and we only had one opportunity to play in your country, and we enjoyed it immensely. I imagine that everyone says that, but it's true for us."

Simple Minds were born in 1977 when Kerr and Burchill formed the band following the demise of their first project, a Glaswegian punk outfit called Johnny and the Self Abusers. Since then, there have been countless nights on stage, in stadiums, then back to smaller venues, and then filling stadiums again – with countless repetitions of the same songs. What is it like for Kerr to have done that and still be doing it today?

"I think you've got to be a special type of person to do that, talent apart," he says.

"There are a lot of talented people who hate touring, and singing the songs that an audience wants to hear. Maybe they see it as routine, or whatever. We don't feel like that. When we're on stage, we are there to be of service. If it was just about you, then you'd stay in the garage and play the songs for yourself.

"Here, we're playing for people who have maybe grown up with the songs, or maybe never seen you, or maybe they're seeing you for the fifth time.

"We looked at people who've been in the game a long time, the real greats. I remember something that Neil Young said once, and he's always full of great quotes and who knows which ones he's more or less serious about, but he said: 'It doesn't count what you do when you're a young man. That's easy. It's what you do when you're older that really comes into play'."

So, with a successful 5x5 tour in the bag, and an international Greatest Hits album and tour under way, what's next for Simple Minds.

"There's an amazing momentum, actually," says Kerr. "We're not only doing more shows than you could imagine at this stage of the game but, over the last two years when we've not been playing, lo and behold there's a new chapter. We've been writing songs and – whisper it – it might even be a double album."

With dozens of song and album hits in Britain, America, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand, and with seminal albums like Once Upon A Time, Street Fighting Years and a hallmark of live recordings, Live In The City Of Light, what is it like being on the cusp of releasing new material to the mercy of the critics and the fans?

"What can we do?" says Kerr. "You can only do what you know, which is write the songs, and play them and produce them as well as you can. Then, once it leaves you, it's all a bit of a lottery"

Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles 15/10/2013
'' - 19th October 2013 (USA)

Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr was pretty direct when they announced their short North American tour earlier this year: If you want to see a bigger tour, come see this one. Some people took that as an ultimatum but let's be realistic - the economics have to be there to interest promoters. Last night at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles the band did more than enough to make their case.

There is no opening act for this tour and so when the lobby lights flashed the crowd streamed into the hall to the opening strains of Broken Glass Park, one of two new tracks on the recent Greatest Hits + release. The stage filled with fog and suddenly there was Jim Kerr, weaving and gliding around the stage like he had been transported in from 1985 - a little older, maybe a little wiser, but no less potent a singer or showman.

With a 50-track greatest hits package to promote, the set list was impressive. After opening with one of the two new tracks on the collection, they moved into more familiar territory with a block of tunes including Waterfront, Up On The Catwalk, and All the Things She Said before stepping it down a notch for Mandela Day.

During this track large swaths of the audience stepped out to refresh their drinks or themselves, leading Kerr to thank the rest of the audience for sticking with them before pointing out that we should save some energy because there was, in his words, "a lot of music left." Another highlight of their first set was a cover of Let The Day Begin, originally performed by The Call. Perhaps it's strange to find a cover in the midst of a set like this, but I enjoy a glimpse into what tracks a band likes or feels connected to, and Simple Minds gave the song great flavor.

The second set opened with I Travel and moved through another litany of mainstay songs, playing Someone Somewhere in Summertime, She's A River, and Love Song before arriving at what I thought was the most powerful performance of the evening, See The Lights.

The ringing, open chords and the lyrics bemoaning a lost love seemed to soak into the audience, Jim Kerr and '80s Nation acknowledging together that summer is perhaps gone. On the heels of this soaring anthem to heartbreak, it was fitting that the bridge led into Don't You (Forget About Me). You could feel the crowd exhale as we all surged to our feet to sing along with Jim Kerr, who cheerfully led us all through a singalong of what may be the definitive anthem of the '80s. They closed the set with Promised You A Miracle before quickly vanishing from stage in preparation for the obligatory encore.

The encore opened with the instrumental Theme for Great Cities (which of course I personally interpreted as a nod to Los Angeles), presumably to give Kerr a moment for a costume change and a sip or two of water, before closing out the night with Sanctify Yourself and Alive And Kicking.

Bottom line, this was a great concert by a band that is absolutely hitting their spots and having a great time doing it. The band was tight and seemed to be enjoying themselves; Jim Kerr not only sounds great but was an absolute presence onstage, working the crowd like a seasoned pro, tossing his microphone cable over his shoulder to strike a pose or lead the clapping. He waved, shook hands, and shouted out "Thank you for making us feel so welcome!"

No Jim, thank you. Thank you for caring enough to do justice to your music.

9.30 Club, Washington 18/10/2013
'' - 20th October 2013 (USA)

A representative of a music production company once told my favorite lady Yasmin that Simple Minds would not be about to mount a tour of the United States. They wanted too much money for their current place in the echelon of UK bands, the rep said.

It was quite satisfying then to see this fellow proved wrong as the 9:30 Club solidly sold out its $40-a-ticket show of the Glasgow quintet, who were in fine form for a 35th anniversary greatest hits tour. Vocalist Jim Kerr and company only hit seven dates in North America, so it was doubly satisfying that D.C. was on the tour bill.

I went to the show hoping that the band would not neglect its earlier material in favor of radio staples that got them noticed in the United States after "Don't You (Forget About Me)," the number one hit they logged from The Breakfast Club soundtrack. As the band broke through here, their sound shifted direction to my ear away from the synth-driven music they embraced in their earlier albums toward soulful arena rock. While pleasing nevertheless, I do not find those radio hits like "Alive and Kicking" as satisfying as some of the material more obscure to Americans.

Well, I was not disappointed! Kerr and the band struck up new song "Broken Glass Park" and followed it up with "Waterfront," a classic from their fifth album. But it was really the stretch of "Glittering Prize," "New Gold Dream" and "Theme for Great Cities," near the halfway mark, that really got me excited. A significant part of the audience actually knew the words to "Glittering Prize" and sung along to it. A strong selection of songs from my favorite album, New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84), was more than enough to make the show for me. The band was in great form–they sounded polished and they had some strong interpersonal chemistry.

Kerr was able to take a break during the soaring "Theme for Great Cities," as well as during the follow-up, a cover of Kraftwerk's "Neon Lights" that allowed backup singer Sarah Brown to steal the spotlight for a bit. She sounded terrific, and I was very pleased that this lineup of Simple Minds had embraced the band's New Romantic legacy.

Simple Minds continued to showcase New Gold Dream with a stirring rendition of "Someone Somewhere in Summertime" and even closed the set with "Promised You a Miracle," an amazing classic. Before that closing number, however, the band played "Don't You (Forget About Me)" to the delight of the audience. I too was actually relieved to hear it as I previously heard that Kerr harbored distaste for the song for years, as Simple Minds did not write it.

The encore put a spotlight on the US hit album Once Upon a Time with "Sanctify Yourself," "Alive and Kicking" and "Ghostdancing." Although I came listening for slightly earlier material, these songs sounded really great — and the audience ate them up. The band closed with a cover of "Gloria" by Them (mixed with a medley of Al Green's "Take Me to the River"), which allows Ms. Brown to shine again and permits Kerr to provide proper introductions to members of his band.

With the success of this short tour, it seems that Simple Minds may be back in the United States after a touring absence of 11 years! A charming and confident Kerr seemed elated by the response to all of the songs from across his career, and his enthusiasm was carried in his Scottish brogue as he thanked the audience for its warm reception.

Simple Minds surely will return again soon, and I hope that they will address my only complaint from this show–no performance of the cult favorite "I Travel" from their third album, Empires and Dance! So I have a reason to see them again. You should see them as well if you can when they play Canadian dates Monday and Tuesday and close out the tour in New York City on Thursday.

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Hydro Arena, Glasgow 27/10/2013
Jill Sinclair - 'Glasgow Evening Times' - 28th October 2013 (UK)

Simple Minds never knowingly underperform. Jim Kerr was sure-footed and relaxed as they opened with Waterfront.

"I can't tell you how good it feels to be back in Glasgow," he said by way of introduction to Broken Glass Park.

This was a greatest hits show to accompany a compilation album and there wasn't an ounce of slack in the running order. Wall to wall classics were performed with steely accuracy by Kerr, Charlie Burchill - whose birthday it was - and their session musician stalwarts, awash in sumptuous lighting and stalked by cameras filming for a DVD.

"You're my partners in crime" Kerr told the audience. "I want to show the world what makes Glasgow audiences great."

'They finished with an emotional version of Alive and Kicking and it's a fact worth celebrating that both Simple Minds and Midge Ure left Glasgow as gauche young hopefuls, with rather uncertain futures and that, despite some well documented ups and downs, they took to the stage here, quite properly, as elder statesmen of Scots rock.

(5 out of 5)

Hydro Arena, Glasgow 27/10/2013
Fiona Shepherd - 'The Scotsman' - 28th October 2013 (UK)

Simple Minds, meanwhile, chose their first visit to their hometown's bespoke concert arena as the occasion to film a promo for self-referential new song Big Music. Discreetly deployed cameras sprang into action as they launched into a thunderous Waterfront, inspired by the very shoreline beside which the Hydro sits. "We're just warming up," declared frontman Jim Kerr. Then, five minutes later, following a supercharged I Travel, "we're knackered already".

Mid-80s stadium rocker All The Things She Said may have been written for such environments as this, but came across as more of a shouty din than the hook-laden likes of Promised You A Miracle and Glittering Prize, the latter majestically played by birthday boy Charlie Burchill.

Being a Simple Minds show, there were incidences of pretension, some a bit arty and some verging on the corny, but the brawny electro-funky Love Song came along at just the right point to cut through the mid-set bloat, the singalong Don't You (Forget About Me) brought the crowd back into the game and New Gold Dream made for a suitably epic finale.

Hydro Arena, Glasgow 27/10/2013
Lauren Greig - '' - 29th October 2013 (UK)

The last time Simple Minds played Glasgow was nearly two years ago, so it wasn't surprising to see a good turn out at the Hydro on a Wednesday night.

They claimed they were out to the make Simple Minds concert history, and that's exactly what they did.

After opening with 'Waterfront' lead singer, Jim Kerr informs the crowd that they would be filming the gig so people could see just how good their gigs in Glasgow are.

This gets a great reaction, especially with fan favourites 'Someone Somewhere In Summertime' and 'Don't You (Forget About Me)', everyone seems to be having the night of their lives, dancing and singing back the lyrics.

Watching the band perform with such a high level of energy, you would never guess they were all over 50, the only complaint that the crowd can have tonight is the fact it ended.

Birmingham NIA 29/10/2013
Fionnuala Bourke - 'Birmingham Mail' - 30th October 2013 (UK)

There were ra ra skirts, leg warmers, yuppies and Maggie Thatcher – oh, and Simple Minds.

The legacy left by much of the 80s is often found among the 'bad taste' searches on google.

But that is not where you will find Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill's Glaswegian outfit.

Simple Minds were one of the best bands to see live back in the day.

And they proved that they have still got it when they appeared at Birmingham's National Arena on Friday night.

The show was packed full of passion and punch as the band played a selection of their greatest hits.

And the audience, which included many loyal followers, equalled the rock band's enthusiasm for their music.

They opened the set to cheers of delight with Waterfront and closed it with Alive and Kicking, playing hits including Mandela Day and Theme For Great Cities (Kerr told the crowds he was heading off for a whisky during the latter).

But the real show stopper was the 1985 hit Don't You Forget About Me, which had everyone up out of their seats and dancing.

Simple Minds were supported by another 80s favourite, Ultravox.

4 out of 5

Birmingham NIA 29/10/2013
Fionnuala Bourke - 'Coventry Telegraph' - 2nd December 2013 (UK)

They were known as one of the best bands to see live in the 80s.

And Simple Minds proved they have still got what it takes when they got back on stage to perform at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena on Friday night.

The show was packed full of passion and punch as the band played a selection of their greatest hits.

And the audience, which included many loyal followers, equalled the rock band's enthusiasm for their music.

They opened the set to cheers of delight with Waterfront and closed it with Alive and Kicking, playing hits including Mandela Day and Theme For Great Cities (Kerr told the crowds he was heading off for a whisky during the latter).

But the real show stopper was the 1985 hit Don't You Forget About Me, which had everyone up out of their seats and dancing.

4 out of 5

London O2 Arena 30/10/2013
Lorenzo Cibrari - '' - 2nd December 2013 (UK)

But it was Simple Minds' night, and they were celebrated by a warm and welcoming audience. Starting with a mighty version of Waterfront, Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Mel Gaynor from the classic line up, plus Andy Gillespie on keyboards and Ged Grimes on bass, played for two hours with four encores.

All the big hits had been played (I Travel, All the Things She Said, Love Song, Don't You, New Gold Dream, Alive and Kicking among others) and band's live boost pushed the songs into a new light, with more energy and more grit. Kerr brought passion and love to create a sensational mood on stage: running, jumping and singing.

This Scottish band has been around for thirty years, and sadly it has never been as popular as its peers, like New Order, Spandau Ballet or Tears for Fears, but this is actually one of the finest live acts of them all, catching everyone by surprise with a pure energy charge.

3 out of 5

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Simple Minds Canvas Art