Simply Red performing their 25 Years Of Stars Tour at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Wednesday 23rd November 2016

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Mike Hucknall disbanded Simply Red in 2010 with a farewell tour, but returned to tour last year on the back of their eleventh studio album, Big Love. Last night’s outing was to mark the 25th anniversary of fourth album, Stars and it was a packed Motorpoint Arena who turned out to help celebrate.

Interestingly splitting the set in two, the first half was given to Hucknall’s favourite songs, and whilst technically faultless, the selected songs were not ones that automatically came to mind. Opening with instrumental Jelly Head, the band showcased their capabilities, but when Hucknall casually walked onto the stage, the Arena erupted.

Beginning with Home, they flicked through their back catalogue of less famous songs, such as Mellow My Mind, You’ve Got It and the unforgettable So Beautiful. The cover of The Hollies The Air That I Breathe had the audience on their toes as they were encouraged to sing along to the chorus, whilst the cover of Talking Heads’ Heaven was shamelessly luxurious with Ian Kirkham stealing the limelight with his subliminal saxophone playing.

Finishing a laid back first half with Enough, Hucknall showed that his voice hasn’t diminished over the years. He still has that unique tenor tone mixing melody with a touch of Northern grit that encapsulated this Arena. The sound was crystal clear; the best that has been heard at the Arena in a very long time.

But it was Stars that stole the night. Because this is no ordinary album; it being one of the biggest selling albums of all times in the UK. With the first notes of Something Got Me Started, the audience were up on their feet for the first time. Working through the album, the title track was very well received, as was Thrill Me and Your Mirror.

With the running order obviously structured it did seem to be a little rushed, but it was entertaining none the less. With an effortlessly tight band and Kenji Suzuki’s excellent guitar work along with Steve Lewinson’s classy bass lines, they all did justice to Hucknall’s soulful voice.

Too soon the album had been brought to its conclusion. Happily, Fairground was included in the encore, because noticeably absent was the iconic Money’s Too Tight To Mention and If You Don’t Know Me By Now. That aside, no doubt many of this audience went straight home to dig out the album from their record collection to play it all over again.