Simple Minds at the Hackney Empire
Last night, the two remaining original members of Simple Minds officially inaugurated their new acoustic set at the Hackney Empire, with BBC Radio 2 covering the event live on air. With a long and eventful career behind them, the band have decided to take on a new direction using their old hits.
After a short introduction from Jo Whiley of the BBC, the curtain rose to reveal blazing white lights, a fantastically kitsch chandelier and a boisterous seven-piece band that launched straight into an energetic arrangement of New Gold Dream, with the powerfully flamboyant Cherisse Osei playing a stand-up drum kit in the centre. A spacious section of the stage in front of the instrumentalists had been cleared out to accommodate the original lead singer, Jim Kerr.
He pointed out from the start that he was new to “all this acoustic malarkey” – then proceeded to deliver the material like the stadium rocker that he is. Fortunately for Kerr and Burchill, their fans’ support has always been rock solid – but there is something unappealing about an ageing rock band playing acoustically while the frontman hangs off the side of the stage beckoning to a fawning audience, and kneels passionately to bask in his fading glory.
The Scottish rock combo played a bundle of their old classics as well as paying homage to a few of the musicians that had inspired them, from David Bowie to Patti Smith. Charlie Burchill, also part of the original line-up, really showed off his skills on the acoustic guitar that night with solo after cracking solo, notably using the bottleneck technique in Stand by Love to great effect. There was even a surprise appearance by Steve Harley of the Cockney Rebels, who came on stage during the encore to duly, albeit belatedly, revitalise a performance that had dipped somewhat in energy throughout its second half with a smouldering rendition of Make Me Smile.
The first part of the show, however, was quite lively. The crystal chandelier beamed rays of white light like a disco ball through the magnificent theatre over exalted, nostalgic admirers cheering and singing along to almost every tune. Most of the people sat in the stalls hardly used their cushioned velvet seats, and there were a good few enthusiastic dancers up in the dress circle.
While the acoustic rehash of Simple Minds’ old hits is certainly no improvement upon the originals, it was solidly executed and clearly a valuable experience for the long-lived lovers of the band.
Photo: Laura Palmer/BBC
For further information about Simple Minds and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Promised You a Miracle here: