Review by Rich Ward
Billed as the ‘Greatest Hits + Tour’ you don’t have to be too astute to know what’s likely to be played. The tour is quite an undertaking for the band and rather than choosing to do a handful of arena shows, they have instead headed out to tour the more intimate halls which sees a 30 date UK tour. While undoubtedly a gruelling task for the band, it must be a rewarding one, and even more so for the fans who can get more up close and personal.
The first of two sets kicks off with a new song ‘Broken Glass Park’ before visiting the more familiar territory of ‘Waterfront’. One of the first things that strikes me is the sound – It’s nice and loud, but not excessive and it’s exceptionally clear and fills the Civic Hall. The set then picks out key hits from across their career; ‘Once Upon A Time’, ‘All The Things She Said’, the relatively recent ‘War Babies’ and the first set closes with heavily synth and bass led ‘I Travel’. Having missed their 5×5 Live tour last year, it was great to hear this tonight.
The second half of the show starts in a somewhat peculiar fashion. Guitarist Charlie Burchill and Andy Gillespie on keyboards are the only two to take the stage and start with an instrumental ‘Book Of Brilliant Things’ backed by a drum machine – whilst an opportunity to give the guitarist his moment, it seems an odd choice when you’ve got Mel Gaynor waiting to take back the drum stool. Next up is a spot for backing singer Sarah Brown to take centre stage for a rendition of Kraftwerk’s ‘Neon Lights’. This faltering moment is quickly forgotten as the rest of the band take the stage and regain momentum with a rousing version of ‘Someone, Somewhere, In Summertime’. A cursory glance around the venue shows a packed hall with everybody thoroughly enjoying themselves.
The hits then start to flow at full force; Mel Gaynor particularly impressing on a rendition of ‘The American’ which sees the whole ground floor singing along with hands aloft. Another new track ‘Blood Diamonds’ slots in very nicely before a run through of ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’, ‘Promised You A Miracle’ and ‘Glittering Prize’. The hair and stage clothes may have diminished a little over the years, but Jim Kerr’s stage presence and flamboyant mannerisms haven’t changed and the songs have lost none of their charm. The main set closes with ‘New Gold Dream’.
Even after two hours and an encore including ‘Sanctify Yourself’ and ‘Alive and Kicking’, it’s testament to the band’s catalogue that they could have played dozens more. For some tonight was a chance to relive the songs of their youth, for others it was just another excellent Simple Minds concert. One thing is certain, Simple Minds are still Alive and Kicking and still have much to offer.
Simple Minds return to the Midlands in December with a date at the NIA on 29th November.