Simple Minds 1978-2008 Live Anniversary Celebration

With an upcoming tour to be followed by a new studio Album, Simple Minds are not merely celebrating their 30th anniversary as they are working right through it and beyond.
Charlie Burchill and Jim Kerr formed a band back in 1977. The first decade of this partnership alone would see many collaborators, artists and producers come and go – leaving a wake of material that was wide in berth and certainly fuelled with experimentation.

‘Life in a Day’ was the debut album which, in 1979, was much more of a Post-Punk sounding Simple Minds. Their work didn’t make too heavy an impact until they took a diversion from this sound with the more electronic and playful ‘Empire and Dance’ the following year. Looking back now the earlier catalogue of music has become much more appreciated through new romanticism and electro pop groups. The tracks such as ‘Changeling’ and even ‘Film Theme’ from the second album ‘Real to Real Cacophony’ as well as ‘I Travel’ from ‘Empires and Dance’ have become cult songs from the era. These are appreciated along with the instrumental ‘Theme for Great Cities’ and ‘Love Song’ (which was to be re-released again years later as a B-Side to ‘Alive and Kicking’ to promote their singles album in the early 90’s).

Although at this stage they were still very experimental it was the beginning of what would shape the work to come in the following three albums which culminated in the highly rated and much more commercial sounding ‘New gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’. This album marked almost a much more recognized, and possibly an unfairly definitive view of what Simple Minds would sound like to listeners all over the world. It is of course their earliest triumph in terms of commercial success, and would be one that would be repeated three years later when they released their possibly most highly recognized work ‘Once Upon a Time.’ Although at this time they had already released the Keith Forsey penned ‘Don’t You (Forget about me)’ for the motion picture ‘The Breakfast Club,’ many of the singles from this latter album including ‘Alive and Kicking,’ ‘All the Things She Said’ and ‘Ghost Dancing’ are just as instantly recognizable. ‘Once Upon a time’ was also the first album to prominently feature photography of the band members themselves on the cover of an album.

The huge success and global awareness of the band led to their biggest live tour. It would be four years until they would return to the studio with their next effort. The 80’s commercial status hit its greatest height with the single ‘Belfast Child’ from their next album ‘Street Fighting Years.’ The song hit the bands only UK Singles number 1. Far from being an upbeat pop song, it was praised for its slow and soulful opening as well as its crescendo. The song was a wonderful novel blend of Celtic folk and mainstream Rock-Pop. The remainder of the album may have had trouble keeping up, but there are certainly moments of sheer political and musical genius and the album also charted at number 1 as well.

1991 saw the release of ‘Real Life’ an album still with its own political concerns, it seemed a much more globally concerned love letter to the planet with singles such as ‘Real Life and ‘Let there Be Love.’ The album charted well in the UK but less so abroad. Although the songs were well written, like ‘Street Fighting Years’ before it there was perhaps more material on the album than was actually needed unlike the very prim ‘Once Upon a Time’ which only had 8 songs to its credit.

The following year quite correctly saw the release of the hugely successful ‘Glittering Prize’ which contained 14 of their most successful tracks in their career so far. It marked a huge achievement by the band, opened ears to the odd forgotten classic and also marked the end of what most people recognize as the Simple Minds Pop Era. What was to follow would be very different.

With rock, grunge and indie really taking off into the 1990’s – Simple Minds very cleverly managed to tailor a more rock friendly album in ‘Good News from the Next World.’ The album itself was the biggest departure yet from what they had done before, yet totally in tune with the movement of music around them at the time. Far from a commercial knock off, ‘Good News…’ contained two instant Simple Minds favorites in ‘She’s A River’ and ‘Hypnotized.’ With Kerr and Burchill the only remaining members of the band they had taken a look back at their more rock friendly aspects and development that for the mid-90’s; both even growing their hair much longer than was commonly seen from them. Reviews and response from Europe was great even if the US seemed to have its attention elsewhere.

The band perhaps becoming too adept at changing their music image with each album possibly went a step too far in the wrong direction with their following effort ‘Neopolis.’ The album quickly came and went from public view and to this day still doesn’t leave any hallmark of their music writing skills. It was more notable for the return of two former band members to the line up. The work continued for the remainder of the 90’s. Other trends seemed to take over and the band had trouble keeping their music in public view, although it is worth noting that their live concerts were always well received as well as attended. A much better and fuller 2-Disc compilation album entitled simple “The Best of Simple Minds” was also released.

The new century saw the band continue on as ever with the rapid output of several albums in 3 years. This culminated with the rather poorly received yet underrated ‘Cry’ in 2002. This album successfully experimented with the past, and more aptly their own past with such electro pop vitality as ‘Sleeping Girl.’ Keeping themselves up with and sometimes ahead of the times Simple Minds' 2005 effort ‘Black & White 050505’ was previewed on the bands website for several weeks which is now a practice taken on by many a rock and pop icon including electronic influenced Nine Inch Nails. The new album generated good reviews and seemed to finally show an incline in the bands reputation and popularity.

The new as yet to be titled album is due for release in 2009. Taking things beyond their 30 years and towards their 5th decade as music makers. The few concerts they are playing in the UK later this year sees their ‘New Gold Dream’ album to be played in its entirety as well as a host of classics from the whole of their back catalogue. There’s bound top be little criticism of the choice of full album they are set to play as it is undoubtedly one of there most beloved by fans and will work well as a full set piece. Whether they will be playing new material from the as yet to be released new album remains to be seen. To conjoin with this celebration, and highlight of ‘New gold Dream’ it would be nice to see the band return to these electronic roots. Like the reputation of their live performances it is material that is embedded with raw electro power.

Simple Minds 30th Live Anniversary dates include:

Thursday Nov 27th – Manchester MEN Arena
Friday November 28th – Birmingham NEC
Saturday November 29th – London Wembley Arena
Monday December 1st – Sheffield Arena
Tuesday December 2nd – Cardiff International Arena
Wednesday December 3rd – Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
Thursday December 4th – Glasgow SECC
Saturday December 6th – Belfast Odyssey Arena

Deacon blue will be supporting on all dates except the Glasgow date which will have The Alarm supporting.
Image by Tony Mott

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