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
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.
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.
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.
Glasgow 1st December 2003
- 'The Scotsman' (UK)
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
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.
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
(3 out of
Auditorium, 2nd December 2003
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Glasgow 2nd December 2003
- '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
Hall, Nottingham 3rd December 2003
Party For Fans'
- '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
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.
Hall, Nottingham 3rd December 2003
Les Linyard -
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
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
Apollo, London 6th December 2003
- 'Sunday Times' (UK)
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
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.
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
(3 out of
Centre, Bournemouth 9th December 2003
'A mind blowing
- '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.
ultra-energised front man Jim Kerr gave 100
per cent and more throughout almost two-and
a-half hours on stage.
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
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.
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.
Hall, Bristol 10th December 2003
- 'Bristol Evening Post' (UK)
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
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
Alive & Kicking
- '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."
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
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
"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
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
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."
Alive and Kicking in 2003 Friday 12th December
2003 Birmingham NEC
on Jim's Mind
Riazat Butt -
THINK of Simple
Minds and you think of Patsy Kensit, white
shirts, leather trousers and soundtracks to
Brat Pack movies starring Molly Ringwald and
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,
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.
to open a hotel on the island. It will be
a family-run establishment, not a snobby boutique
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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
Manchester 13th December 2003
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.
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
Aberdeen 20th December 2003
hitch fails to dampen concert fun
Alan Gorham -
Simple Minds fans were forced out into pouring
rain when fire alarms sounded at the Music
Hall in Aberdeen at the weekend.
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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
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.
and Rescue Service confirmed the evacuation
had come about due to a false alarm, triggered
by the use of smoke machines.