If there was one resounding image from tonight’s gig, it was Jim Kerr, alone on stage after the band had exited following a silky Don’t you forget about me, dancing alone to Roxy Music on the PA, like the teenager so in love with music he still can’t stop.
Guitarist Charlie Burchill is the same. No one’s told him not to smile like he is the band’s biggest fan been allowed on stage. He’s one of music’s underrated players, utterly intrinsic to the Glasgow band’s sound, even if it’s music now appealing to men who’d get thrown out of their golf club for the leather jacket they’re wearing,
Simple Minds have played 3000 gigs since their first at Glasgow’s discotheque Satellite City 40 years and sometimes you want a band that once sound-tracked your bedroom posturing to play new songs. The songs you imagined they might write all those years ago; new songs in which to sink your still-bruised soul and discover understanding. Well tonight they did. Simple Minds are so pleased with their new album Walk Between Worlds they are playing it live. The entire thing. To a crowd who are probably wishing they’d bought it. For those hoping to skip and instead bounce in new ways to old songs were destined for disappointment, although the band did start with the haunting European trance of I Travel, and hopes were raised by swamp funk morphing into the proto trance of a pulsating Love Song.
With a new line-up joining Kerr and Burchill, inc. drummer Cherisse Osei, the band look like the upper deck of a night bus, however their prize still glitters. Kerr is in awe of Osei, although where one goes after describing previous drummer (long-standing Mel Gaynor) as ‘the greatest drummer in the world’ is beyond even Kerr’s hyperbole.
There’s a steel-tight riff of Magic, which is so new even Charlie isn’t mouthing along to every lyric, and although not everything sticks it’s fascinating to hear the band as you might a new group. Most songs feel like growers, although Summer sounds like an ill-advised Chris Rea remix.
They break after side 1 of the new record for a brief chat, ‘so we can have a sit down’ Kerr jokes. He enjoys the stage like a seal enjoys water. Of the new songs side 2 is better: Barrowland Star hits like a classic and they know it. Kerr points at his old school friend with another ‘Charlie!’ who unleashes swelling waves of guitar chops. Kerr’s final words will either be ‘Let me see your hands’ or ‘Charlie…’ Sense of Discovery succeeds in not only referencing Alive and Kicking (which they later play to rapturous reception) but does so with a beautifully segued new riff. They revisit synth new wave with the title track, before a pause to announce the godly Waterfront, announcing the victory lap of a joyous Someone, Somewhere, in Summertime and The American. However, there remains the inexplicable absence of All the things she said.
A subtly spruced up New Gold Dream is perfection as-ever and still illustrates how they found their ambition before U2 had recovered from New Year’s Day. The crowd leave; grinning as Kerr still dad dances alone on the stage, miming the lyrics of Roxy Music, reluctant to allow the night to end.
My novel, The Life Assistance Agency – selected by WHSmith Fresh Talent 2017 – featuring Simple Minds and Bruce Springsteen is available here – http://myBook.to/lifeassistance
and on ebook here –