The magnificent Audley End House and Gardens welcomed a trio of Scottish bands as part of the Heritage Live series of summer live events, headliners Simple Minds having first been scheduled to appear back in 2020. One of England’s finest and grandest Victorian mansions, Audley End boasts spacious grounds which, when combined with glorious weather, made for the perfect environment to enjoy some top quality music in the open air.
Brothers Pat and Greg Kane aka Hue & Cry are best remembered for 1987’s ‘Labour of Love’, surprisingly their only Top 10 hit. Performing as a duo their set was mostly drawn from their late 80’s albums along with a somewhat unlikely cover of Kate Bush’s ‘The Man With the Child in His Eyes’. Vocalist Pat still possesses a strong voice and they received a warm welcome, even if it did all seem very pedestrian and sedate.
There was nothing sedate about Big Country who came straight out of the blocks all guns blazing, Bruce and Jamie Watson’s wailing guitars ushering in ‘Harvest Home’. ‘Look Away’, ‘In a Big Country’ and the call and response of ‘Chance’ had the crowd on their feet and fully engaged. Simon Hough has been fronting the band for almost a decade and does a superb job filling the shoes of the much missed Stuart Adamson. And in Mark Brzezicki, Big Country can still boast one of the finest drummers around. Hough took his leave after introducing Richard Jobson to the stage and the band went though a mini Skids set that seemed to raise the bar even higher; the sonic assault of ‘The Saints are Coming’, ‘Masquerade’ and ‘Into the Valley’ bridging the gap between punk and new wave.
Celebrating forty years of hits, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill are supported by an impressive bunch of musicians to ensure that Simple Minds remain an irresistible live attraction. And with a new album, Direction of the Heart, due in October they are by no means done yet. Show opener ‘Act of Love’ and the funky groove of ‘Vision Thing’ are both taken from the upcoming release and suggest it will most definitely be worth checking out.
The new songs are well received but inevitably it is the songs the audience grew up with that provide show stopping moments. ‘Love Song’ has everyone bouncing along, Kerr as animated as ever, and followed by ‘Glittering Prize’, ‘Promised You a Miracle’ and ‘Waterfront’ makes for a rock solid quartet that reminds you Simple Minds have a multitude of anthems at their disposal. The mood shifts as Kerr trades places with backing vocalist Sarah Brown and she steps front and centre for the sublime ‘Book of Brilliant Things’.
Always known for their huge drum sound provided by Mel Gaynor, replacement Cherisse Osei possesses a similarly energetic style, leading the band through ‘Theme For Great Cities’ which leads into her dynamic solo spot. With this being a more truncated set than their arena tour earlier this year they are all too soon into the closing trio of ‘See the Lights’, ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ and ‘Alive and Kicking’ and send everyone home happy after what was a wonderful show from start to finish. Here’s looking forward to Simple Minds celebrating a half century of hits in 2030!
Act of Love
Promised You a Miracle
Book of Brilliant Things
Let There Be Love
Theme For Great Cities
Someone Somewhere in Summertime
See the Lights
Don’t You (Forget About Me)
Alive and Kicking