Alive & Kicking Tour 2003 Articles & Reviews

Life In A Day
Real To Real Cacophony
Empires & Dance
Sons & Fascination
New Gold Dream
Sparkle In The Rain
Once Upon A Time
Live In The City Of Light
Hollywood Rock Festival
Nelson Mandela Concert
Street Fighting Years
Themes (Volumes 1-4)
Real Life
Glittering Prize 81/92
Good News The Next World
Neon Lights
The Best Of Simple Minds
Early Gold
Alive & Kicking Tour 2003
Summer Tour 2004
Silver Box
Black & White 050505
46664 Concert
30 Years Live Tour
Graffiti Soul

Kings Dock Arena, Liverpool 22nd July 2003

Lee Bennion -


It could have been 1987 all over again, except in those days these boys used to play stadiums all over Europe, not tents!

And the crowd, the biggest collection of mid-life crisis aged men I've ever seen in one place outside of a Harley Davidson convention, have a little less hair and a bit more round the waist. But Simple Minds are still here, Alive and Kicking...obviously!

Their old stuff sounds as fresh today as it did back then and they're the tunes that make up most of tonights set. The die-hards wouldn't settle for anything less.

Local heroes China Crisis get things off to a cracking start and get an unbelievable ovation. So when Jim Kerr and co come on stage it seems to take a while for things to get going. They pull out a couple of old, and rarely heard gems like Love Song and East at Easter....perhaps not surprising when you consider they've got an album of early tunes to promote.

By the time they rip into Alive and Kicking the crowd are going mad. Favourites like Waterfront, Mandela Day and a fantastic version of Ghost Dancing mixed with Gloria go down a storm.

But the biggest cheer of the night is reserved for Don't you forget about Me, a bit ironic when you consider its a song Jim Kerr never wanted to record. When it was used in the teen film The Breakfast Club, it became Simple Minds biggest hit and I think he's learnt to love it over the years.

Glaswegian Kerr seems as up for it tonight as he did 20 years ago, bouncing around the stage and leading the crowd in a chorus of 'laa la la la laa'. The days of stadiums may be behind them, but with this much energy and songs this good.....and fans this loyal....Simple Minds could still be heading for that Glittering Prize.



Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow 1st December 2003

Graeme Green - 'The Scotsman' (UK)


Simple Minds were clearly delighted to be in front of a home crowd last night on the first date of their UK tour. Musically, little has changed for them in the two decades since their critical and commercial peak. Each of their stadium-sized songs recalled late-80s U2, but it's a formula the band and their fans seemed happy to stick with.

Despite claiming to be exhausted, the band kept their energy levels high. Front man Jim Kerr bounded around the stage with Bono-like theatricality as they reeled off one after another of their anthems. But over two and a half hours, the bombast began to grate, the slower numbers like Hypnotised were a little embarrassing, like seeing your parents disco-dance, but Belfast Child showed what the fuss was about all those years ago.

Kerr quipped that Simple Minds are "a young, up-and-coming band". While their glory days are behind them, they seemed keen to prove they are still alive and kicking.

(3 out of 5)



Clyde Auditorium, 2nd December 2003

'Fans for the memories: Don't You Forget About Us'

Allan Brown - 'The Times' (UK)


You look at a Simple Minds audience these days and only one thought occurs: who's manning Glasgow's kebab shops tonight? Every jowly, unskilled labourer in the city must be here. The forecourts of petrol stations go unstaffed. Those districts in which lardy, tattooed men gather to discuss gaskets and complain about their wives will be deserted.

Every performer gets the audience they deserve and Simple Minds were always the most charmless of groups. They weren't good-looking or faintly cool. They weren't actually a group in the conventional sense at all, merely a rota of interchangeable hirelings supplementing the two core members, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill, a fact which merely compounded the functional nature of all their endeavours. So how did they manage to parlay these deficits into a career and two well-attended nights at the Clyde Auditorium? The answer in a word (or a combination of letters and numbers) is U2. Simple Minds were always the Irish band's Mini-me, their stunt doubles, supply teachers to these headmasters of ultra-earnest pomp-rock.

Every rocking-liberal attitude and stylistic trope that U2 patented - vague, wide-eyed allusions to pride and passion, heavy deployment of meteorological imagery, a certain reliance on aerobic bombast - found its echo in the work of the Minds. In the days when they could rely on the overspill from U2's audience, the Minds prospered. Albums like New Gold Dream chimed acceptably with a People Power/Live Aid era when audiences combated the worldÕs evils by letting girlfriends sit on their shoulders at concerts. Roughly between 1984-1994, the Minds were a viably huge draw, albeit on the back, rather bathetically, of the US success of Don't You (Forget About Me), a song written for them and which they quickly came to hate.

Since the fall of communism and the sudden unpopularity of eye make-up for men, things have been noticeably quieter for the Minds. For a decade now they have loitered in career limbo: part Eighties nostalgia act, part delusional old troupers who won't take the hint. Tuesday's show was an uneasy meld of both modes. Can there be a more melancholy sight in the world than fans absenting a concert hall when some lame, indulgent slab of tosh from a justifiably obscure recent album is smuggled between the hits? Yes there can. It was the convoy of white stretch limos outside the venue; hired, no doubt, by married couples anticipating a nostalgic party evening, and obliged to suffer unfamiliar material because the band were determined to demonstrate what a vital creative force they remain.

There should be some manner of trades description legislation against this. If you're a performer over 40 you must accept that your audience wishes to hear only the songs that have been embossed on their synapses. This may not be artistically satisfying for the performer but their cut on the £30 ticket price should provide some comfort. Instead, the Minds pursued a kind of tit-for-tat arrangement in which one "classic" was traded for some piece of windy nonsense from twilight albums like Neapolis.

This occasionally served to remind what an interesting, supple band the Minds were. As the back catalogue evolved through to the 1990s, however, the material became increasingly club-footed, replacing melodic nimbleness with ceaselessly crashing chords.

Nonetheless, this was a tight, efficient, energetic show. Kerr and Burchill still clearly want to be loved, and their loyal audience were prepared to oblige: but wholly for old times' sake. Unless the band capitulate to their own history the forecourts and plumbing office might be less deserted next time round.



Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow 2nd December 2003

Alan Hamilton - 'The Razz' (UK)


The Minds said goodbye to Glasgow at the start of their British tour with a so-so performance.

Singer Jim Kerr had the fans in the palm of his hand only to let them slip through his fingers.

All the hits were there Ghost Dancing, Santicfy, Alive and Kicking, Don't You Forget About Me, but sadly, their new material just doesn't cut the mustard, Cry being one that deflated the crowd from adancing, handclapping frenzy to a subdued audience waiting for the main event. You can't fault the lads for effort though. Mecurial Jim Kerr, the wrong side of 40, but he dances, sway and kicks his way through a two hour set that would leave a man half his age on his knees.

His voice still has all the range from yesteryear. Kerr wished the crowd a Merry Christmas at the end of the gig. Hurry back lads but stick to the classics.



Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham 3rd December 2003

'Jim's Reunion Party For Fans'

Scott Fisher - 'Nottingham Review' (UK)


Where did those 15 or so years go? Last time I saw Simple Minds it was the tail end of the 80s, I was a mere slip of a boy and Jim Kerr was in his pomp.

Last night I saw the band again, at the Royal Concert Hall, and for large portions of the evening it felt as though time had stood still. True, neither of us look quite like we did back then, although of the two I think Jim's fared slightly better.

And the band's changed significantly - only good old Charlie Burchill, lead guitarist, and drummer Mel Gaynor remain from the Streetfighting Years. But we're still as we were: Jim belts out the hits and I listen in wonder. Although the audience looked like a giant PTA get-together, once the band had dispensed with their half dozen tracks of 'modern' material and got stuck into the 'standards' we were off, rocking back to the 80s, the glory days of stadium gigs and chart-topping success. Hit followed hit as Kerr and Burchill wound back the years.We lapped it up. This wasn't so much a gig as a reunion party at Jim and Charlie's. Kerr thanked us for coming to see him "again and again... and again". Think nothing of it mate, it's our pleasure.



Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham 3rd December 2003

Les Linyard - (UK)


Simple Minds blasted onto the stage with a careering opening of Book Of Brilliant Things, Jim Kerr dancing around stage in his normal fashion. Kerr remains one of the most charismatic and energetic front-men in the business - it is hard to take your eyes off him as he struts around stage, tempting the audience into impromptu singalongs and bossing the arena with his sheer presence. That shouldn't take anything away from an excellent backing band who provided great support throughout the show, introduced as the greatest drummer in the world Mel Gaynor (not quite but bloody good all the same!), bassist - Eddie Duffy, Keyboards - Andy Gillespie and Guitarist - Charlie Burchill (who like Jim has been with the band from the start way back in 1977).

Any set by this band will have to have omissions but in reality this was a greatest hits selection that was only One Step Closer and Belfast Child from being definitive. 24 tracks were ripped out over approximately two hours with barely a breath drawn, audience participation was of Premier league status, choir like on DonÕt You Forget About Me and hitting crescendos when the obvious favourites Waterfront, Sanctify Yourself, Promised You A Miracle and finally Alive And Kicking were played out before their receptive eyes.

Other highlights were a lovely version of See The Lights and a crackerjack take of Street Fighting Years. The only complaint (and this is being picky I know) is that occasionally when the band were at total full throttle Jim' s vocal got slightly lost in the mix but this is rock'n'roll so play it loud. He said towards the end it was the second best experience on Earth - he might just be right... though a few here tonight would claim it's the best...

(4 out of 5)



Hammersmith Apollo, London 6th December 2003

Lisa Verrico - 'Sunday Times' (UK)


THE current tour by Simple Minds has been dubbed Alive and Kicking after one of their biggest hits, but possibly also to remind former fans that they still exist. In their 1980s heyday the Glaswegian group sold more than 20 million albums but there has been little commercial success since then and last year's all-new album, Cry, sunk without trace.

Yet the 1980s nostalgia bandwagon has resurrected the careers of umpteen unlikely pop stars of late and Simple Minds could be next. Certainly, Hammersmith Apollo was packed with people eager for a blast of the band's passe pomp rock. They had to wait a while to hear it, though.

First came several early tracks, featured on the band's current Early Gold compilation. Back then, the group that had formed as punks in the late 1970s were among the first rockers to experiment with electronics and some of the songs had simple, Depeche Mode - style synths and basic beats. In fact, before they became a stadium act, Simple Minds were quite cool and while their old numbers have definitely dated, you could still hear why they were once considered cutting-edge.

It was the huge mid-1980s hits that the crowd had come to hear, of course, but they were not averse to lesser-known songs. Men in their thirties and forties - there were only a handful of women, most with their husbands - punched the air and clapped along between nipping to the bar for another pint.

All came conservatively dressed and were clearly reliving a wilder time in their lives. Few, however, had aged as well as singer Jim Kerr. When the crowd jumped about, their beer bellies moved with them. When Kerr did his trademark silly dance moves - arms flailing in slow motion was a favourite - it could have been 1984. Kerr's hair may have receded slightly, but heÕs still in good shape. And, yes, he's still wearing a flowing white shirt unbuttoned to his navel.

The other original band member was guitarist Charlie Burchill - the rest was made up of younger newcomers - who came into his own on such classic hits as Waterfront and Don't You Forget About Me. Burchill's twangy guitar lines were a big part of Simple Minds success and he was indulged with several solos.

Finally, fans had the chance to chant along and they loved it. The highlight was a 15-minute cover of Van Morrison's Gloria, which briefly morphed into the Door's Light My Fire. Stadium-like lights were flashing, there was a wall of dry ice and you could hardly hear Kerr above the crowd. Alive? Yes. Kicking? Some of the time.

(3 out of 5)



International Centre, Bournemouth 9th December 2003

'A mind blowing performance'

Hilary Porter - 'This Is Bournemouth' (UK)


Alive and Kicking...that was the BIC last night as Simple Minds delivered an electrifying show.

This cult band with a global following satisfied both the die-hard fans who have stuck with them from the 70s and 80s as well as those who were there just to hear the hits.

Charismatic, ultra-energised front man Jim Kerr gave 100 per cent and more throughout almost two-and a-half hours on stage.

Continually taking hold of some of the sea of hands that reached out to touch him he appeared to create an electric circuit between himself and the fans. This was bombastic stadium rock within Britain's smallest arena venue and while the bass bounced off your eardrums and the sheer volume shook your very bones this was a rare and brilliant reminder of how live bands should be.

The on-stage energy, the spectacular atmospheric lights and a repertoire that took us through the ever-evolving catalogue of Simple Minds hits, from electro-pop to harder edged rock, the fans could not want for more.

Tracks from the most recent Cry album had the crowd singing along to every word.

This and epic, enduring hits like Don't You Forget About Me, the anthemic Waterfront, Sanctify Yourself, Promised You a Miracle and the final Alive and Kicking have ensured the band will outlast their many contemporaries already assigned to the slag heap of nostalgia package tours.



Colston Hall, Bristol 10th December 2003

'Minds please the faithful'

Francis Harvey - 'Bristol Evening Post' (UK)


Glasgow's epic rockers Simple Minds have entitled their tour Alive And Kicking in 2003, as a reference to their 1985 hit.

The Minds still release new material, but last year's low-selling album Cry was a far cry from their glory days.

The two remaining original members - frontman Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill - are now joined by youngsters on keyboards, bass and drums.

This was a big-value, feelgood show that sustained the shimmering widescreen sound and included most of their hits.

The performance was intimate and well received, with particular crowd-pleasers including Waterfront and Don't You (Forget About Me).

As with Suede at Bristol Academy the previous night, the show couldn't be faulted musically but somehow lacked edge or arty significance.

(4 out of 5)



Jim's still Alive & Kicking

Diane Parkes - 'Evening Mail' (UK)


If the autumn is feeling chilly for us, spare a thought for Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr. He is having to swop the warm sunshine of Sicily for the colder climes of Glasgow.

Jim has made the town of Taormina in Sicily his second home and was enjoying some very warm sunshine when the Evening Mail contacted him.

But he's now back in the UK as part of a European tour which takes in Birmingham NEC.

His love affair with Sicily began 20 years ago - and it is a relationships which has continued ever since.

"I have always loved to travel - that is one of the big advantages of doing my type of work," he says. "I came here and it just had everything about it that I love. It is really beautiful. I tend to live here for about half the year now and it is lovely to have the sunshine."

And 44-year-old Jim is honing his language skills.

"I did some classes but tend to learn it as I go along," he says. "But you have to try. If people start to talk to you in English you have to say, 'Hang on, we are speaking Italian here. The dialect here is a bit like speaking with an Aberdeen accent - a bit different from the traditional Italian."

But Jim still keeps his roots firmly in his home city of Glasgow and is a fervent Celtic supporter.

"It is something which you have in common when you are away from home," he says. "You get on the internet and start talking about football. There is something very special about following a football team.

"I was very fortunate this year as I made it to the UEFA Cup Final in Seville which was amazing. But I must tell you one anecdote. I was with my dad and we were having to get there from here which involved umpteen changes. We ended up stuck in Barcelona for five hours and I had a rock star style strop about the wait. My dad said ' I don't know why you are complaining about five hours - I have waited 30 years for this!'"

Which is something many Simple Minds fans will be saying about the concert at the NEC. The band has been in business for 25 years and are promising a mix of greatest hits and new material at the concert.

And they have plenty of hits to choose from with a back catalogue including top tenners like Don't You (Forget About Me), Love Song, Belfast Child and Alive and Kicking.

Says Jim: "We would never be arrogant and say we don't want to play something. You are there to entertain the fans and I am sure we will be able to give them the hits they like and some new stuff for the die-hard fans."

Simple Minds: Alive and Kicking in 2003 Friday 12th December 2003 Birmingham NEC



Simple Life on Jim's Mind

Riazat Butt - (UK)


THINK of Simple Minds and you think of Patsy Kensit, white shirts, leather trousers and soundtracks to Brat Pack movies starring Molly Ringwald and Emilio Estevez.

For much of the eighties, the Scottish band shifted an obscene amount of records and hogged the musical landscape to great effect with their bellowing, quasi-political anthems.

But what to do when you're ousted from the top of the tree by dance music and grunge? Does your life become an endless circuit of celebrity parties and reality TV shows, like Tony Hadley's?

If you're Jim Kerr, then you'll have fingers in other pies.

The lead singer of Simple Minds is based in Sicily, which he considers a "home from home", and could well be the location for a new venture.

"I'm hoping to open a hotel on the island. It will be a family-run establishment, not a snobby boutique hotel.

"It will be romantic," he intones in his gravely Scottish burr. "I came to Sicily 20 years ago and I fell in love with it.

"There is a feeling about this place. It's the weather, the culture and the beautiful countryside. Sometimes I wake up and think I've been dreaming."

Happiness: Rousing himself from this shut-eye, he adds that the key to happiness is striking a balance between touring and the good life.

"I feel very fortunate to be in the position I'm in and I take advantage of that. I like to be spontaneous. For example, I might toy with the idea of going to India in the morning and be there by the evening."

By the way, the grizzled-but-charming Kerr, 44, is single - an exciting prospect even though he looks like Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke did before the plastic surgery.

Impromptu long-haul holidays aside, Kerr is not terribly rock 'n' roll, although he once asked for a curry to be couriered from a Glasgow restaurant to Aberdeen, where he was performing.

But that's as far as his diva tendencies go, and you won't find him gracing the gossip columns of the tabloid press, even though his private life has been suitably colourful.

Kerr married rocker Chrissie Hynde in 1985, after a whirlwind romance. He was 24 and she was 32, with a one-year-old daughter, Natalie, from her relationship with Ray Davies of The Kinks, and Hynde later gave birth to Kerr's daughter, Yasmin.

Shortly after the wedding, Kerr embarked on a two-year world tour and Simple Minds went to Number One with Don't You (Forget About Me), from the soundtrack of the film, The Breakfast Club.

The marriage collapsed in 1990 and, two years later, Kerr tied the knot with serial wife-to-the-stars Patsy Kensit, but this marriage ended in divorce, too.

Pitfalls: Although he doesn't spill the beans on his high-profile relationships, he does talk about the pitfalls that come with being famous.

"There was a period in my life where I behaved like a pools winner. Having that much money and fame does get to you and you end up making a prat of yourself.

"I'm practical and realistic, I know that the Press will have an interest in me and sometimes you get out of your depth. But I've never been part of the 'celebrity' circuit. In my day you never heard the C-word."

In his day there were other bands, too, such as Duran Duran, who, in October, wowed the London glitterati with a gig at an intimate venue. It was perhaps proof of the band's staying power that the gig sold out in four minutes.

But Kerr is nonchalant about this achievement.

"There will always be a big interest in something if you hype it up enough. It's where they [Duran] go from here that I'm interested in. As for selling 200 seats, well, my granny could do that!"



Apollo, Manchester 13th December 2003 (UK)


IT'S exactly 20 years since I fell out of love with Simple Minds. It was like leaving an old girlfriend and it wasn't an amicable split. To me, they had lost their unique beauty and become loud, vulgar and flabby. I gave my heart to others and they won many, many more admirers. So, the Apollo on Saturday night could have been proof of the old saying that you should never go back. But I did, and I liked what I saw.

True, we've both put on a little weight in the intervening years. But older efforts like Premonition and Sweat In Bullet had my heart fluttering early on and made it easy to forgive other less attractive habits. Cosy It's a while since Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill and co. regularly played theatres, and not everything from their stadium years worked well in the more cosy Apollo. But as Kerr executed his usual wobbly dance moves and Burchill's chiming guitar carried the crowd, it was refreshing to see they had dropped the pomposity that blighted them in their mid-eighties peak. The beam on Kerr's face and the sparkle in his eyes made it clear he is enjoying himself. And so was everyone else. New Gold Dream and Theme For Great Cities were as captivating as ever, Glittering Prize an elegant high point and by Someone Somewhere In The Summertime it was like the last two decades had never happened.

After a two-hour reunion, I was wondering whether I had been right to walk out all those years ago. But better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

(4 out of 5)



Music Hall, Aberdeen 20th December 2003

Fire-alarm hitch fails to dampen concert fun

Alan Gorham - (UK)


Hundreds of Simple Minds fans were forced out into pouring rain when fire alarms sounded at the Music Hall in Aberdeen at the weekend.

Cosmetic smoke used during the Glasgow band's performance on Saturday night had caused the alarm and forced an evacuation.

Fans kept themselves entertained during the 15-minute wait outside the venue, singing an impromptu version of the tune which ended as the alarm was signalled - Don't You Forget About Me.

Purveyors of some of the finest anthemic rock to come out of the 80s, Jim Kerr and co did not forget their obligation to their supporters and came back to the stage in fine form.

Despite dance moves reminiscent of the embarrassing dad at a wedding, Kerr continues to convince as a bona-fide star singer.

He trooped on to the Music Hall stage alongside fellow band founder, Charlie Burchill, to a cracking reception.

Clearly enjoying the adulation, they treated the near-capacity crowd to an initial hour's worth of tunes spanning two decades. After the brief, enforced break in proceedings - during which many fans unwisely went elsewhere to avoid the rain and did not return - the band were back with a bang.

Bouncing back to the stage Kerr, recalling a Doors reference earlier in the set, said: "That'll teach us to sing Come on Baby Light My Fire."

Standout tracks were their best-known hits - Waterfront, Promised You a Miracle, the earlier Don't You... and the stunning set-closer, Alive & Kicking.

With the chords of that last song ringing in my ears en-route home, one thought I couldn't escape is that had they more drive when the musical climate changed, this lot could have been bigger than U2.

The songs are of a similar quality and with Belfast Child (sadly missing from Saturday's set list) they spoke with a political voice previously unnoticed. Thankfully, there is still time for a resurgence.

Grampian Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the evacuation had come about due to a false alarm, triggered by the use of smoke machines.



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