Whilst the years have seen competitors, imitators and a slew of ‘influenced-bys’ come and go, Simply Red have not lost a smidgen of any of the qualities that launched them into the stratosphere more years ago than they’d probably care to remember.
They return to the newly refurbished, ber-intimate legendary surroundings of Ronnie Scott’s. The purpose of the evening was not a gig per se, more of a showcase for forthcoming album Stay which will be hitting the shelves in March.
Mick Hucknall’s vocals and overall performance are still flawless, and his ability to entrance and enthral a crowd remains as strong as ever. World in You Tonight displayed the signature jazz-funk sound many have come to know and love them for. Followed immediately by So Not Over You, which will be the first single, it catalogues the traumas of a relationship break-up that any listening adult will be familiar with.
Stay, the title track of said new album (which they went through track by track) needs no other description; it is Simply Red at their best. Oh What A Girl will already be familiar to fans having been released as a download last year, and the sight of a guitar-wielding and gyrating Herr Hucknall earned a suitable round of applause. Also on offer was Good Times Have Done Me Wrong, which showcases the talents of the rest of the band with its amazing instrumentals.
You know you’re in for a treat when the greats pay homage to their own musical influences and a cover of Debris, written by the late Ronnie Lane of the Small Faces, merits full credit being given to all involved. Lady, co-written with Jools Holland, was the final new track and adds some Latin rhythms to the classic Simply Red sound.
The mark of a true showman is to leave the public wanting more, and the rest of the album remains under wraps until its release. No one wants to take all the fun out the suspense. Although it’s unlikely there will be any surprises. The final song was a rendition of the title track from previous album Home, which needs no introduction, save to comment that the best stories never lose anything in retelling them.
Madonna may have a habit of reinventing herself every 10 minutes, but for Simply Red it’s not necessary. Not everyone needs a change of style and image to catch the public’s interest again. Welcome back guys.