Simple Minds at the Roundhouse
Legendary 1980s alternative pop rockers Simple Minds return to London, celebrating 40 years since their debut gig. Tonight, they perform a two hour set, alternating interviews with tracks from their 18th studio album, Walk Between Worlds, which is played in its entirety.
A band that has an expansive back catalogue, Simple Minds begin with I Travel, a single from their 1982 album Celebration. The track rings true to Donna Summe: an upbeat disco hit, parts pop fun, parts new wave. Despite singer Jim Kerr’s vocals being buried within the pounding percussion, the song is somewhat salvaged by the electrifying guitar and synthesiser. Celebrate, from 2013 The Greatest Hits, is a jumpy synth-backed number, with qualities of the post-punk era. The electric guitar – played superbly by original Simple Minds member Charlie Burchill – intensifies with the climax, the solos reminiscent of the group’s signature riffs. Red lighting and the powerhouse drumming by percussionist Cherisse Osei lend an energetic feel to the atmosphere. One of the highlights of the evening, the gorgeously understated This Earth That You Walk Upon, from the band’s fourth album, Sons and Fascination, becomes transformed by the talkbox, a device which, when breathed into, modifies the frequencies of an instrument. It is this particular sound that heralded the Scots to stardom: art rock, combined with an alternative twist.
Magic, the first track performed tonight from the ensemble’s latest album, has the stadium filler sounds of anthem rock stars U2, but lyrically, it is not as strong as Simple Minds’ earlier work. Burchill states that the musicians have a “new lease of life”, accompanied by additional, younger band members, whilst Kerr rouses the audience by demanding to see everybody’s hands, an attempt to waken the otherwise stationary viewers. Waterfront has a similar effect, fans perking up to sing along, while Sense of Discovery sees lead backing vocalist Sarah Brown really come into her own, with a striking voice, complemented by Simple Minds’ guitar instrumentals. Live favourite, Someone Somewhere in Summertime, takes on a new sound, modern and slowed in tempo, and when New Gold Dream (81 82 83 84) plays, fast paced and filled with fervour, it reminds us how their compositions were ahead of their time. Both Sanctify Yourself and Alive and Kicking are crowd-pleasers, but it is the massive number one single, Don’t You Forget About Me, that joyously ends the night with everyone singing the now famous lines, the concert coinciding with the 33rd anniversary of The Breakfast Club, in which the number was featured.
Simple Minds’ stage setup is fluid, and they present their songs with a renewed vigour, bringing a fresh interpretation to their performance. Fans are lucky to still be receiving new material from a legendary band, though it doesn’t compare to their older work, making the latter half of the set more appealing. Both new and original members play well together, engaged and energetic, Kerr making full use of the venue, mouthing to everyone, while Burchill and the gang enjoy every minute, ecstatic to be playing in one of the greatest ensembles of the 1980s.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit Simple Minds’s website here.
Watch the video for Magic here: