When I found out Simple Minds were planning to celebrate 30 years in the business with a landmark tour, I leaped at the chance to review tonight’s performance. Although, I confess I was less certain of how I felt about reviewing special quests Deacon Blue, knowing only their most popular songs and having a tendency to be a little apprehensive about support bands in general.
I was really pleased to find that I had been allocated a seat in one of the best positions in the house; a few rows back from centre stage. Taking a quick look around as Deacon Blue took to the stage I could see the 10,000 capacity arena was nowhere near full as yet. However, during their opening songs ‘Circus Lights’ and ‘Your Town’ people started filtering their way in.
I admit all my initial fears had been unfounded — we were just a few songs in and the crowd were warming up, Deacon Blue fans were singing along, Lorraine McIntosh was swirling around on stage and Ricky Ross provided some additional entertainment with a genuinely funny moment during ‘Raintown’, where with a literal translation of the lyrics, he spewed a mouthful of water up into the air only for it to land on a security guard standing in front of the barrier!
With more instantly recognisable songs in the form of ‘Twist and Shout’, ‘Real Gone Kid’ and ‘Fergus Sings The Blues’, along with Ricky Ross sporadically throwing in some witty banter, the crowd were won over and now most of the arena were on their feet showing their appreciation. They indeed deserved the rapturous applause and wolf whistling which followed their final song ‘Dignity’. All in all, Deacon Blue produced an enjoyable and incredibly solid sounding 40 minute set.
After what seemed like an eternity (well sometimes a 30 minute interval by yourself tapping your toes to random tunes can seem a bit lengthy!) the lights were dimmed and there was an incredible build up as everyone sprang to their feet, whooping and stomping waiting for Simple Minds to emerge.
As it dawned on the crowd that they could hear the opening bars of ‘Waterfront’ it was as if someone had let loose a herd of excitable hyenas – people were sproinging up and down, arms were flailing and some sort of mass hysteria had kicked in as Jim Kerr’s voice swept out over the arena. Without so much as a let-up Jim and the boys trounced through song after song, amongst them some golden oldies including ‘Speed Your Love To Me’, ‘Love Song’, ‘The American’ and ‘Chelsea Girl’.
The lighting up on stage was simple but very effective — ever changing, brightly coloured fluorescent tubing in straight vertical lines and the sound in the arena was near perfect.
Jim’s voice is ever so slightly huskier these days but still holds such clarity. There was only one slightly dodgy vocal moment for me when the band launch into ‘Hypnotised’ — I actually love this mid 90’s Simple Minds offering but something wasn’t quite right with the vocals on this song tonight — to me it sounded almost off key in places.
I would not be doing this review justice if I did not mention how talented the rest of the band are — co-founding member Charlie Burchill with his soulful and melodic riffs, Eddie Duffy playing the most fantastically funky bass I have heard in a long time and amazing performances from Andy Gillespie on Keyboards and Mel Gaynor on drums who also briefly left his drum stool to show off his vocal talents on ‘Chelsea Girl’.
Now some might think that it is a tad risky to play a whole album almost in its original recorded sequence mid-set but that is exactly what Simple Minds did – I am guessing dependant on which era you became a fan you may disagree with me but I honestly thought this was a stroke of genius!
The album ‘New Gold Dream’ was released in 1982 and is no stranger to controversy. At the time some fans felt it had a much smoother, more polished sound in comparison to their earlier albums – in short some felt that the band had tried to appeal to a much more commercial audience. However, I would defy anyone now looking back to admit that ‘New Gold Dream’ is not a great album and indeed played a huge part in the on-going success of this band. It boasts many fine songs and I felt privileged to hear them come to life onstage as we were treated to ‘Promised You A Miracle’, ‘Glittering Prize’, ‘New Gold Dream’ and one of my all-time favourite tracks ‘Someone, Somewhere in Summertime’ as well as lesser played ‘Colours Fly and Catherine Wheels’ and ‘Big Sleep’ to name but a few.
And as if that wasn’t quite enough, we all had a chance to prove our own vocal talents by joining in with ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ followed by a stunning rendition of ‘Belfast Child’ before a final encore of ‘Sanctify Yourself’ and of course the night would not have been complete without the climax of the show ‘Alive and Kicking’.
This was a truly great night which offered something for everybody, if you only wanted to hear the greatest hits you would have been more than pleased with the set-list and if you were a fan at the time when Simple Minds released quite arguably their definitive album then you will have left LG Arena tonight an extremely satisfied customer. This is most certainly a performance that I am unlikely to forget for a long time to come – the set took us on a historic journey of Simple Minds works, a collection of their greatest songs and proved to be a truly nostalgic experience.
Simple Minds Set-list
2. Speed Your Love To Me
3. Mandela Day
4. Love Song
5. The American
6. Simple Minds
7. Chelsea Girl — with Mel Gaynor
9. Someone Somewhere In Summertime
10. Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel
11. Promised You A Miracle
12. Big Sleep
13. Somebody Up There Likes You
14. New Gold Dream
15. Hunter And The Hunted
16. Glittering Prize
17. King Is White And In The Crowd
18. Up On The Catwalk
19. Don’t You Forget About Me
20. All The Things She Said
21. Belfast Child
22. Sanctify Yourself
23. Alive & Kicking
*I have just heard that fans will get one more chance to see the ’30 Years Live’ Tour – the band have scheduled a date to play at Edinburgh Castle on 18th July 2009 where the concert will be filmed for a DVD release. Pre-sale tickets are available for members of simpleminds.com from 10th December and on general release from 12th December at tickets.com – I would seriously recommend getting your hands on some tickets!
Review – Amanda Jones
Photos – Dave Musson