Simple Minds performing their Big Music Tour at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Sunday 3rd May 2015
Images and Review by Kevin Cooper
As the sound of Ravels’ Bolero came to its magnificent conclusion, this packed Royal Concert Hall was swathed in darkness as Simple Minds took to the stage to a welcome that is rarely seen (or heard). With arms aloft, 55 year old Jim Kerr had the audience on their feet before even a single note had been played.
With the cover of their sixteenth studio album, Big Music being flashed around the auditorium, and a light show that made the set look like the Starship Enterprise, Simple Minds opened with new track Let The Day Begin, and the party started. Flanked by a five piece band that included co-founder Charlie Burhill on guitar and long term drummer, Mel Gaynor, Kerr, dressed in green tartan had this audience in the palm of his hand.
With this being the penultimate gig on a 29 date tour, you would have thought that they would have been a little frazzled, but not so. Whilst frontman Kerr admitted that most of the band were suffering with the flu, he told this lively audience that he would be alright on the loud shouty numbers but that they would have to bear with him for the more gentle ones. The alternative, he said would have been to cancel the gig, something which he informed the audience they had never done in their entire career. If truth be told, the voice was a little raspy and sometimes difficult to hear, but for this crowd, he could do no wrong.
With no support and a mountain of a back catalogue, Simple Minds were predicted to play a lengthy set. Actually the set was split into two halves and extensively revisited the hits, with the crunching early cult favourites I Travel, New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) and Love Song. There were new atmospheric songs such as Blindfolded and Honest Town which seamlessly blended in with the classics.
The tempo was brought down a little with acoustic versions of The American and Real Life and a solo piano performance of Rivers Of Ice by Catherine Davies; but the undoubted star of the show, Kerr, got it all back on track and brought the first set to a close with committed anthems, Waterfront and Don’t You (Forget About Me).
Flu withstanding, the second set saw the same boundless energy. A Book Of Brilliant Things was beautifully delivered by the delightful Sarah Brown, as hits East Of Easter, Let There Be Love and Someone Somewhere (In Summertime), saw Kerr bouncing around the stage twirling the mic stand and leaning out to hold it into the audience to conduct mass sing-a-longs. New tracks, Midnight Walking and Big Music were the forerunners for the big finish of Sanctify Yourself, and they did not disappoint, although unfortunately, the flu did seem to be taking its toll as Kerr’s voice seemed to be struggling towards the end, and much reliance was placed upon the crowd to help him along.
Despite that, a much demanded encore produced an exuberantly reverential cover of The Door’s Riders On The Storm before the evening was brought to end with a frenzied sing-a-long to Alive And Kicking.
With some bands of the 80’s now firmly ensconced in the dustbin of obscurity, not so Simple Minds. With Kerr and co-founder Charlie Burchill having been together now for some 38 years, they are definitely alive and very much still kicking, and on this showing, will be for some time to come.