Simple Minds @ the Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, UK – 5 April 2103

Posted by Wayne Fox on Friday Apr 5, 2013 Under 80s, Photoless, Pop

Gig Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown / Gig Photos by Ken Harrison

Simple Minds flatly refuse to give up and go away. Na no. Stadia shows may be a few years ago (although arenas are a’ beckoning later in the year) this is the second time in just over 12 months they’ve played a mid-sized venue, playing all their hits from days gone by. And by all accounts it’s a great idea – tonight’s gig is totally sold out.

Last trip out was ‘5 from 5’ – five tracks from their first five albums. This time we have the full spread of hits – from the classic cult dance hit ‘I Travel’ right through to brand new tracks on their new greatest hits release ‘Celebrate.’ The 2 set CD features 36 songs, from 12 albums over 34 years. Go up a notch – the 3 set CD features 50 songs off 13 albums over 36 years. As you do. According to Mr. Kerr as part of the press release: “One of the things I’m most proud of is that people say to me what Simple Minds are you talking about? The avant-garde, the art-rock, the pop, the ambient, the instrumental group, the political, the folk, the stadium band? We’ve been on one hell of a journey. To play all those different styles but at the same time be quintessentially Simple Minds is an amazing thing.”

Tonight is indeed a time warp, go back to the time of the ‘New Romantics’ when mobile phones were those red telephone kiosks on street corners, Apple had just released the Macintosh computer, you brought an album on cassette tape and on the round black stuff and social media entailed a pen, paper, a stamp and a few days to get a response. We’ve all come a long way since then – tonight is an opportunity to put on the rose tinted glasses and remember those ‘fab’ good old days. I would suspect many who attempted the new 7 shades of social class calculator probably come out in the category of ‘New Affluent Worker or above – average age 44, economically secure, go to gigs, live in the Midlands….

To a potted bit of Simple Minds history – formed way back in ’78, they took an eclectic journey up to ’82, from the dance classic cult ‘I Travel’ right through the big sound of the ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’ album, with splashing of arena-filling 80’s hits. Success became stratospheric – by the mid/late eighties Simple Minds were huge, playing not just arenas, but stadia, comparable to U2 in success.

According to their Twitter profile: “Simple Minds are Scotland’s most successful rock group to date. Having topped America’s Billboard chart, the Glasgow band have achieved six UK No.1 albums.” But for Simple Minds this ridiculously huge commercial success began to wane, not that has stopped them; they’ve continued to this day, both recording and playing live, and tonight here, once again in an intimate venue to celebrate with their loyal fans.

The Simple Minds of today are made up of original members Jim Kerr (vocals) and Charlie Burchill (guitar/keyboards), Mel Gaynor (drummer – who’s been in the line up pretty much since ’82), Andy Gillespie (keyboards – ditto since 2002) and Ged Grimes (bass – newbie and formerly a founding member of Danny Wilson). And tonight it’s just them, no support. Times for a double-setted gig – 7.45pm-9pm – twenty minute break (we need one as we’re all getting on I guess) – then 9.20pm til 10.30pm.

So 15 minutes late (according to the above released times) on a darkened dry ice covered stage, to a dramatic entrance Simple Minds appear through the clouds. Encouraging the crowd to clap, Kerr dressed in black, draped in pink scarf, starts off the set with new song ‘Broken Glass Park.’ “We’re please to come and visit you in Wolverhampton… let me see your hands…. say hello to…. Charlie Burchill….. 1…2….3….4…” and we’re into ‘Waterfront.’ The crowd buzzed as the track rambles with that bass riff. Huge cheer as we’re then plunged into total darkness. Kerr’s voice emerges with “Everything okay?” before we’re into ‘Once Upon A Time’ which merges seamlessly into ‘Up On The Catwalk’. The crowd chant back the chorus “I will be there, I will be there, I will be there” as we’re all transported back to early 80s memories of ‘being there.’ ‘Catwalk’ is the standout track so far.

Kerr: “How are you? Thanks every one of you for coming to see Simple Minds…. We’ll do this set and then take a little break so you can get your energy back…. First time in Wolverhampton, unless anyone can tell me otherwise. We’ve been in Dudley…..” (a reference to the OLD blackened ‘garage’ that was the legendary JB’s methinks). And then we start to roll, to the dance track that achieved cult like status in it’s time, when as kids we went to discos…. “I Travel”. 12″ (vinyl) extended edition.

First part of the set over, we take the break. Then after around 15-20 minutes, they’re back – instrumental ‘Book of Brilliant Things’, followed by their cover of Kraftwerk’s ‘Neon Lights.’ It’s song three before a white floppy shirted Kerr is back on stage for the song with the S’s ‘Someone Somewhere in Summertime.’

Couple of later career hits and then the new – ‘Blood Diamonds’ – before back to the old – ‘The American’ – as the crowd chant the chorus – this is what they crave for. Again from Kerr: “Everyone okay” as we return to the bass riff and ‘Love Song’ another standout track. And then we get to dream about watching movies, curled up with pop and popcorn – ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ theme to The Breakfast Club. And a kinda interlude as Kerr has a go at some over-enthusiastic fans pushing too much and crushing others at the front. Fair play by all accounts.

The set finished on a smattering of time-warp – ‘Promised You A Miracle’, ‘Glittering Prize’ and ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’. The crowd are loving it. Break and then an encore – ‘Sanctify Yourself’, ‘Space’ and to finish up ‘Alive and Kicking’. And as the set finishes Bowie’s ‘The Jean Jeanie’ blasts from the speakers – the line “So simple minded” the inspiration for the band’s name.

Simple Minds were indeed mega-huge, but unlike U2 who conquered the world and then some, it didn’t quite play out in the same way. The major hits were certainly mostly during the 80’s and so tonight was a celebration of true nostalgia and most were here to hear tracks from a couple of decades past. And very probably for most here tonight – the older the track the better.

Tonight’s gig wasn’t cheap – tickets were between about £38 and £48 each, then you could buy the T-shirt (£20), the program (£10) and the regularly plugged ‘limited edition’ CD recording (£20 on the night) of tonight’s performance (only available at this and two other gigs on this tour). Putting this aside – it was clear everyone in the audience had a blast. And if you are an avid fan undoubtedly you already have a ticket to their NIA gig in Birmingham on 29th November 13 (tickets up to £55) with support – superstars of moody electronica the reformed and resurgent Ultravox. So another opportunity to timewarp – it’ll be a New Romantic electronic extravaganza.

1. Broken Glass Park [New]
2. Waterfront
3. Once Upon A Time
4. Up On the Catwalk
5. Let There Be Love
6. All The Things She Said
7. War Babies
8. I Travel

9. Book of Brilliant Things
10. Neon Lights (Kraftwerk Cover)
11. Someone Somewhere in Summertime
12. She’s a River
13. This is Your Land
14. Blood Diamonds [New]
15. The American
16. Love Song
17. See the Lights
18. Don’t You (Forget About Me)
19. Promised You A Miracle
20. Glittering Prize
21. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

22. Sanctify Yourself
23. Space
24. Alive and Kicking

Celebrate (Greatest Hits + Collection) [2013]
Sons and Fascination / Sister Feelings Call [1981]
New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) [1982]


Footnote: We would have loved to have featured photos to accompany the review. Our photographer and others from other publications were there – however they were presented with terms and conditions which were extreme and we believe no photographers agreed to them, hence no pictures.

3 Responses to “Simple Minds @ the Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, UK – 5 April 2103”

  1. john bentley Says:

    It is a real shame that promoters like these try to impose ridiculous conditions on photographers in a few cases and their folly should be highlighted. The photographers were entirely right to refuse to agree the conditions. Most bands and their agents are very reasonable it should be said and these cases are fortunately rare.

  2. Paul Crutchley Says:

    Great review, shame that photographs couldn’t accompany it.

  3. paula carpenter Says:

    Totally brilliant gig, Simple Minds are totally on fire.
    Such a shame no pictures could be published, was really looking forward to seeing them!!

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