- 'Melody Maker' 19th May 1990 (UK)
Simple Minds' first full-length live concert
video, is the group's answer to U2's "Rattle
And Hum", a 90-minute amalgam of concert
footage and behind-the-scenes documentary filmed
in a Roman ampthitheatre in Verona, Italy, during
the final few days of the band's "Street
Fighting Years" World Tour last September.
And, as you'd expect, the build-up to this has
been typically pretentious. Adverts in th music
press have consisted of a photo of Kerr with
the words: "Simple Minds The Video - Live
And On The Streets May 18th." The accompanying
press release describes it as "the music
event of the year". Yet, even given Virgin
video's vested interest in plugging the thing,
the hyperbole is, for once, fully justified.
Directed by pop
promo merchant Andy Morahan, the emphasis here
is on the visuals. It's a concert video (both
words are of equal importance) not a video of
a concert, that manages to capture the essence
of a live show with all the energy and techniques
associated with slickest of today's opo videos,
turning a proficient, if admittedly slightly
dull, stage sgow into a spectacle thanks to
the miracles of modern editing. It's not exactly
Simple Minds "live" since the video
for "Belfast Child" and snippets of
the first Mandela day gig are included, and
Kerr changes costume mid-song at least half
a dozen times, but technically it's stunning.
The editing is frighteningly fast (too fast
perhaps) even for those of us reared on MTV,
images flashing on and off screen in a frenzy
of delirious cutting. Morahan and his 16 cameras
cover every conceivable angle, arty black and
white photgraphy merging colour, super-eight
with 16mm, to produce a remarkable visual feast,
a lavish document of a band and their fans at
perhaps the peak of their powers.
If Kerr's vocals
sound at times strained, at times wishy-washy,
at times overdubbed, it was a long tour. For
your money you get 14 songs culled mainly from
"Street Fighting Years" and "Once
Upon A Time" albums (only "Waterfront"
with it's hard-edged guitar sound appears from
the pre-"Breakfast Club" era) with
lots of audience footage - preening, good looking
Italians - before, during and after the show.
Kerr opens his
mouth only to sing. We get "Mandela Day"
(Kerr draped in an ANC flag) and "Belfast
Child" but we get none of the pompous pontificating,
fist clenching and shouts for sanctions that
have recently soured his reputation. If only
it could always be like this. With his mind
concentrating solely on musical matters, Kerr
proves himself one of rock's elite frontamen.
He's engaging, athletic, heroic, stoic even.
You understand exactly what an ego trip it is
to be a rock star, standing on stage in front
of thousands of adoring fans. Kerr's face when
the crowd chants "Don't You Forget About
Me" "la-la-la-las" is the face
of a man given over with something tantamount
to orgasmic pleasure. Morahan chucks in a few
interviews with the band along the way but you
can barely understand a word anybody's saying.
It doesn't matter, it's the music and the look
that are important.
For Minds fans
"Verona" is as compelling and near
perfect a record of the band circa 1989 as is
possible to capture on film. For purists of
the live-in-concert form it may not possess
the panorama of "The Cure In Orange"
(shot on 35mm with Tim Pope directing) nor the
extravagance of Prince's "Sign 'O' The
Times", but it's far better than the multitude
of similar videos currently occupying the shelves.