Live Music + Gig Reviews

Simple Minds @ Roundhouse, London

2 March 2012

Simple Minds fans are a fervent bunch – and getting them assembled in the Roundhouse on a Friday night for a concert of their favourite music from the band’s early albums was always likely to be a home banker.

And so it proves, with Jim Kerr and co delivering five songs each from their first five albums – part of a series not so imaginatively designated as the ‘5×5’ tour. The band are on stage just past eight o’clock, and give 27 songs in total – bonus tracks are welcome here as well as on the box set, it seems. That they are as pumped up at the end as at the beginning says much for the band’s commitment to these songs, some written as long as 35 years ago.

The gig follows a pleasing pattern, largely chronological as it charts the Simple Minds’ early history from 1979 debut Life In A Day through to the rabble rousing New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). On their journey the band reveal through their music a transition from the small, underground clubs of their early gigs to the ever-increasing size of the arenas they played in the 1980s, and joyous anthems Promised You A Miracle and Someone, Somewhere In Summertime reach for the skies.

Yet while these songs are inevitably the crowning glory of the gig, there is much to be found in the earlier edginess and introspection that are finally being associated with the band once again. Kerr and co keep the austerity evident in the early songs, with the likes of Hunter And The Hunted, This Fear Of Gods and Pleasantly Disturbed treading a stately path, the latter lent a slightly weird air by the addition of Charlie Burchill’s violin.

Jim Kerr is on typically effusive form, with many of the gestures of his live persona present and correct – the microphone over the back of the shoulder, the kneeling posture as he sings to the sky, the walk over to the side of the stage before singing directly at one fan in particular – all are known traits but, on this occasion, endearing ones as he keeps the lid on anything outrageous. The rest of the band are studious but tight as anything, with an impressive array of keyboards from Andy Gillespie stabbing out counterpoints to the busy basslines of Ged Grimes, superb in Love Song, and the increasingly frenetic guitar of Burchill.

Towards the end we are reminded of the band’s lasting influence on rave and house music, not just in the music but in the ever increasing frequency of the light changes. Theme For Great Cities soars with Balearic beauty, while New Gold Dream displays the shimmering colours that lit the flames of many a warehouse party.

Here it lights the end of a particularly impressive set, charting why Simple Minds are a band that should be remembered in the greater scheme of things, not just as a marker of 1980s excess. They deserve much better than that.

Simple Minds played: I Travel, Thirty Frames a Second, Today I Died Again, Calling Your Name, Scar, Life in a Day, Hunter and the Hunted, Premonition, Wasteland, Love Song, Pleasantly Disturbed, Room; Second half: The American, In Trance as Mission, 70 Cities as Love Brings the Fall, Celebrate, Changeling, Factory, This Fear of Gods, Promised You A Miracle, Someone Somewhere in Summertime; Encore: Theme For Great Cities, Someone, Chelsea Girl, Glittering Prize, New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

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Interview: Simple Minds