Rather like Jim Kerr’s beloved Celtic did in the late 1990s, Simple Minds have undergone something of a career renaissance.
Rising from the fallow ground of their less impressive turn of the century albums, they have made a much more coherent piece of work in the recent record Black & White 050505.
It’s a point demonstrated by the integration of the new material into the band’s live set, which of course contained a good number of the old classics.
Importantly the whole band looked fired up for the challenge of a solid two hour set, and their instruments were certainly built to sustain the impact. Kerr’s voice continues to move, retaining its anthemic qualities, and he was quickly into his element, although noticeably more than happy to let the crowd take over for Don’t You Forget About Me – perhaps something to do with the fact that it’s not his favourite song.
The imperious Charlie Burchill delivered the group’s trademark rousing guitar lines with evident relish, while bassist Eddie Duffy provided solid support at both ends of the musical scale, some quality backing vocals heightening a resilient Alive And Kicking.
Drummer Mel Gaynor made a late appearance to those on the ground floor, due mostly to the fact that he had spent the entire gig encased in a Perspex vault, rather like one of those smokers consoles at a British airport, with his huge kit and giant dinner-plate cymbals for company. Mark Taylor, too, went big with no fewer than four keyboards to choose from, while Burchill sported a large white Gibson guitar.
In this setting, even the less convincing album tracks acquitted themselves extremely well, the previously awkward Underneath The Ice now securing more gravitas, while a brave choice found Dolphins closing the set proper, the stage bathed in aqua blue. The programming was odd at times, with the lesser known album tracks sandwiching the big hits, but by and large it worked.
As you’d expect the old classics got the biggest crowd reaction – a magisterial Waterfront, a pumped-up See The Lights, and a joyously warm rendition of Someone, Somewhere In Summertime. A real highlight was the appearance of New Gold Dream in the first of two encores, a wonderful performance with much finger pointing from the lead singer, by now bathed in sweat.
Any doubts about the venue’s suitability were quelled, the band affirming their status once again with a formidable quantity of anthems and a fine light show. Not only that, but musically they had provided strong evidence in their new material that the creative fires were burning strongly once again.