Record Shopping Road Trip: Atlanta, April 2018 – Day 2

Criminal Records is always worth a trawl!

[…continued from last post]

So the plan was that the wives of Mr. Ware and I had scheduled high tea at Tipple + Rose, an Atlanta tearoom for Sunday at noon. This left the gentlemen to their own devices, so I reasoned that this would be ideal record shopping time. While Mr. Ware and I have last shopped together in Atlanta on the occasion of chasinvictoria’s 50th celebration in 2012, Echorich did not really have a background in the classic Atlanta record stores. So I felt it cogent that we go to Wax ‘N Facts in Little Five Points. And when you go there, you’d be crazy not to also shop in Criminal Records just around the corner from the iconic Danny Beard store. The beauty of the lodgings we secures was that all three parties were no more than a mile or two away from each other.

Our M.O. was to swing by and pick up Echorich in the morning hours and we’d head to The Ware compound a few minutes away. On Sunday we did this and the ladies took off for high tea. The Ware compound, ideally, was situated on the corners of Sinclair Ave. NE and Seminole Ave NE, so Little Five Points was a 200 yard stroll away. We didn’t have to duke it out for parking in the hotly contested lot of the hipster magnet that was Little Five Points. We went to Wax ‘N Facts first but since it was only barely noon, the store wasn’t quite open for business. You know how it is in the record store biz! Showbiz hours. We tried Criminal Records instead.

Criminal Records | Atlanta, GA

We entered the large, well-lit store and Mr. Ware and I took pains to immediately point out the record we had seen there the last time we were there together. On the high wall behind the checkout was a sacred copy of the US only compilation, “Themes For Great Cities” by Simple Minds as signed by Jim and Charlie. Possibly on their last visit to the city in 1994, I’m venturing to guess. Any store with such a curated object placed so prominently undoubtedly had taste to spare!

All of that vinyl in the foreground is the new stuff… untouched by Ye Olde Monk

Criminal Records also had comic books, Blu-Rays and tchatkes. We ignored those. The three of us went right for the 12″ used vinyl in the back of the store. Which looked to be about half the size of the last visit I made there in 2013 while seeing Sparks in the Variety Playhouse just down the street. Gulp. We trolled through the old vinyl without seeing too much to quicken the pulse. But as I check my records [thank goodness for those!] I see that I have never bought any 12″ vinyl in the store. No, my purchases were relegated strictly to CD and …DVD! So I guess I can’t complain about shrinking 12″ used vinyl stock today. Thought I did appreciate seeing the Icehouse records that I already had.

A great want list item I have never seen

After about a half an hour, we moved to the CDs and I quickly struck pay dirt! Laying out of alphabetized order was a copy of the second, buried treasure album by The Photos of “Crystal Tips + Mighty Mice!” Chaerry Red issued this in 2008 following the success of reissuing their eponymous debut, and only released album. This was the followup [produced by T0ny Visconti] that was shelved until Cherry Red licensed it from whoever owns CBS now. And at a healthy $4.97 price, it could not be beat. Mr. Ware saw the next item to raise our collective eyebrows.

The US CD of “Walk Between Worlds”Of course

He and I had the DLX UK edition with the hardback cover book and three bonus tracks, so it was only of academic interest, but Echorich just had the DL and with albums he really favors, of course he prefers to have a hard copy, so that went home with him for only $2.97. I next saw the new Tracey Thorn CD and pulled it before deciding to put it back. I only have the first three Everything But The Girl albums and then I went off of the band during their MOR and dance periods. If I was spending freely I would have gone for it, but I was trying to stick to a budget of $64 that I arbitrarily set before making the trip. And when I saw the Hindu Love Gods album I just had to go with that instead. Since this summer I have finished my Warren Zevon collection – with the exception of this off the cuff cover album of blues and folk tunes and… Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” by Zevon and R.E.M. [minus Stipe].

I later saw that a copy of the Infinite Zero Gang of Four “Songs Of The Free” album was there for the premium of $6.97. I had no truck with the price, it’s worth more, but I could not remember which GO4 Infinite Zero DLX RMs I had at home in the Record Cell. In a moment of techno inferiority, I asked Mr. Ware if we could access my Discogs collection on his iPhone. After I logged in, I saw that I had “Entertainment” and “Solid Gold,” so yes, this one finished off the trio of Marxist Art-Funk every home needs in excess!

Yow! Headboys and Kissing The Pink amongst other delights

We next turned out attention to the 7″ vinyl [well organized] and that was full of enough delights to make me forget that I have never bought any 12″ vinyl here. Had I ever looked at the 7″ers before??! Maybe not as in large groups we tend to move quickly. I immediately found a Headboys UK 7″ that I need for a bonus track before I can remaster my sealed copy of their debut album. I’m more than fine with the <$5.00 pricing here for all of these fine import 7″ers. The “Kickin’ The Kans” 7″ had a non-LP B-side and I never see it for sale from US dealers in Discogs. Can you remember a time when you saw the “Watching Their Eyes” UK 7″ from Kissing The Pink?! Me neither. The B-side is from the LP so I passed… but even so, a rare bird for sure.

Another record I’ve never seen

I next found a record I am now experiencing misgivings over not buying on principle, even thought I was trying to curtail excessive spending. How about the “Weekend Twist” UK 7″ from Gina X Performance? I can’t say I’ve ever seen more than ’85 onward singles from Ms. Kikoine. Hell, the LP that this came from  took 15+ years to track down. Of course the $4.50 price was very nice indeed. The B-side was the seminal “Nice Mover” from their debut album and Ms. K was looking very DEVO on that cover, non? This store was shaping up to have some of the better 7″ stock I’d seen in years.

Echorich offered me a copy of the “Kitchen At Parties” UK 7″ by Jona Lewie, and while I have lots of Lewie 7″ and even a 6″ singles, those were bought before the advent of Lewie on CD and I had both tracks on CD now, even though the Barney Bubbles sleeve was certainly ace it would be redundant in these budget-conscious times. In the end Echorich opted to take away the copy for himself. He also weighed an Altered Images single with David Band cover over in his mind before moving onward.

Could it be an omen on this weekend?

Then we saw a sighting so rare, I could hardly believe it. When was the last time that you ran across a copy of Zoom Records ZUM 11 – the “Chelsea Girl” picture sleeve by our heroes Simple Minds. I had to buy mine from a mail order catalog in the mid 80s and I’ve never seen one out in the wilds. As you can see the $7.95 price has been marked down to… I can’t tell from my blurry iPod photo, but whatever it is, it’s worth the asking! “Garden Of Hate” was a top B-side. Memo to self: the next time I’m in Criminal Records, just look at the 7″ bins and don’t waste time perusing the 12″ stock!

Okay, so only one of these was on the actual want list, but the other sightings boded well for the caliber of stock that drifts through this store. After about an hour or so, we started to gather up our merch and see what was staying with us. Mr. Ware was there for the ride; amused by the running commentary that Echorich and I made during the browsing. Is there anything better than shopping with records with friends? I say thee, nay! While I did drop about $20+ on some fine things here, the real value was in looking and talking with Echorich + Mr. Ware about the sightings. I’ve got plenty of store time with Mr. Ware as we lived in Orlando for 16 years, but this was only my second excursion with Echorich and we were making up for lost time. Is there anything more enjoyable? I don’t think so.

As we prepared to head over to Wax N’ Facts, Mr. Ware held up a twofer CD of Guadalcanal Diary’s “Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man + Jamboree.” The latter was  only on vinyl in my Record Cell but the disc was unpriced. I took it to the register for a price check. The clerk asked the manager? “$2.97″ He replied” Sold, American! I already had “Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man” courtesy of a birthday gift from Mr. Ware ages ago, but I had to have “Jamboree” on the shiny silver disc! So what did I take with me out of the store?

  1. The Headboys: Kickin’ The Kans – RSO ‎– RSO 56 – UK – 7″ – Criminal Records/$4.50
  2. The Photos: Crystal Tips And Mighty Mice – Cherry Red ‎– CDMRED 366 – UK – CD – Criminal Records/$4.97
  3. Gang Of Four: Songs Of The Free DLX RM – Infinite Zero ‎– 9 43067-2 – US – CD – Criminal Records/$6.97
  4. Hindu Love Gods: Hindu Love Gods – Giant Records ‎– 9 24406 2 – US – CD – Criminal Records/$4.97
  5. Guadalcanal Diary: Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man + Jamboree – COL-CD-7486 – US – CD – Criminal Records/$2.97

SUBTOTAL: $24.38 or 38% of the mooted $64 music budget.

NEXT: …The Anchor Store of Little Five Points

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Record Shopping Road Trip: Atlanta, April 2018 – Day 1

So while the recent Simple Minds trip was all about seeing the band behind their stellar new album, and hanging out with The Wares and Echorich, there was going to be some record shopping to happen along the way. I have gone on record as wanting to trim my purchasing back down to moderate levels. The horse has already left that barn because I have already spent more than my outlay last year. Ideally the $60 zone was my mental target for the three stores we had planned on visiting. Quite frankly, I am buying too much music and I want to cut way back. besides, just looking at records is enough fun; particularly with good company. Since the ladies were going off on their own adventures on Sunday and Monday, the guys would be putting a brave front on in three of the better stores in Atlanta. But the first record store I visited was not even a hundred miles away from Atlanta city limits.

The familiar exterior of the Georgia Mountain Market on US-441 in Clayton, Georgia

Eric’s Records in Georgia Mountain Market | Clayton, GA

We take the scenic route to Atlanta from our Western North Carolina home. This entails driving down the far west edge of the state into North Georgia towards Atlanta. It is faster than the interstates more commonly used for this purpose. The trip takes about 3:30 overall. And it’s certainly a lot more picturesque as we run through the Appalachians into the mountains of North Georgia. As we take many trips to Atlanta, for years we have passed by the huge indoor flea market in Clayton, GA, near Dillard. My wife will mention it and I’ll note it, but we never have stopped. Until this day. We had time to spare so why not? We used to be inveterate Flea Market junkies and it had been a long time.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I noted the emphasis made on the records to be found within, so we entered the enclosed building, which was a former warehouse or some such. The facility was an actual flea market, which means that it is basically stuff that people have dug up or are selling off from their stashes. This is an “old timey” classic flea market. Not one stocked with the same Chinese tchatkes new in plastic bags that every other vendor is hawking. The modern so-called “flea market” is a vastly depressing place but this once seemed to be genuine, though nothing in it was calling out to us. I didn’t have to wonder very long where the records were because it was apparent upon entering that there was a vast expanse of LPs for sale dominating the center width of the site.

The actual spread of Eric’s Records was far beyond the scope of my 4th gen iPod Touch camera to capture

There were large, vertical displays of records as seen in the photo above, that are usually “high ticket” items and therefore of little interest to me. I went to the boxes, which were neatly ordered with title cards for most artists and everything was bagged. There actually seemed to be title cards for artists that I liked. If a flea market in North Georgia had a Boomtown Rats section in the in-house record store, you could do a lot worse!

Eric’s Records claims inventory of over 20,000 albums and I believe them

All your records are belong to Eric’s

The photo above that I found online gives a better impression of the vast quantity of stock at Eric’s. Most stand-alone record stores don’t come close to this size of a layout. I have no doubt that every record extant in a 50 mile radius [see left] eventually finds its way into the stock at Eric’s Records. So where would I begin to start looking at this immense mountain of stock? When presented with a conundrum like that, I generally try to get my bearings at first, so I’ll look at what is on offer from an artist I have an interest in. Why not start with David Bowie? Even though there’s almost nothing by him that I need?

That’s right – $50 for a copy of “Pinups!”

Gaaaaaaahh!!!! The copy of the “Pinups” album was a little “soft around the edges,” but that didn’t stop Eric from pricing it out at a crippling $50.00 price point!! My normally reticent lips easily let loose with a reflexive profane outburst as I shared my shock and disbelief with my wife. Could this be an anomaly? I looked further in the bins and found a gold stamped promo of David Bowie’s worst album [this week – it changes all the time for me] and responded again with some more colorfully salty language. You could buy “Never Let Me Down Again” for a scant [in comparison to “Pinups”] $28.00!!

Even three dollars is too much for this one!

Bear in mind that this one will set you back about $8.00 on Discogs.com in comparable condition. So my head was spinning as I stumbled through the stock, noticing that there were actually some halfway decent records here, if this was your only record store to shop at you could do a lot worse when it came strictly to stock, but the choice between a week’s worth of groceries and an LP was one that I’d bet not too many locals could find themselves making. But golly, they actually had some Ultravox records as low as $10.00. That seemed to be the lowest price point in evidence here. Insane! I stumbled to the Prince section …just because.

So, early Prince is worth two dollars less than subprime imperial Bowie?

Yow! The second Prince album was only $48.00 here.  Discogs median price? $12.65. Even if they gouged you on shipping we’re looking at a bargain next to this overpriced clip joint that made me table-flipping mad!

Doing a “Simon LeBon”

So I thought I’d seen it bad when venturing into a similar “record store” within an antiques mall in Asheville earlier this year, but this was beyond the pale! Truth be told, the whole “vinyl renaissance” hype has been picked up by the tourists out to make a fast buck with laughable pricing in antique malls, thrift stores, and flea markets. I see a lot of this. It’s bad when record stores are your bastion of cheap vinyl but there we are. I spent maybe a total of 8 minutes drifting though this insane space filled with records that were priced 5-6x their real world value. We spent another 45 minutes checking out the other stuff here to only shake our heads and realize that we were right not to stop here for so many years prior. It may have been a real flea market, but it still was not a good one.

The nice upside, beyond giving my spleen a good workout, was that I would not be eating into my modest music buying budget before our arrival in Atlanta. I knew for a fact that the stores we’d be visiting would be priced at the extreme low end as compared to this rip off.

Next: … Back to Little Five Points – by foot

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Simple Minds @ The Tabernacle – Atlanta 10-8-18 [part 5]

Sarah Brown has now been a member of the band for nearly a decade

[…continued from last post]

This fourth Simple Minds concert was quite a different proposition from my perspective. I boarded the bus in 1981, when the third single from “Sons + Fascination” hit the streets. From the emergence of “New Gold Dream [81,82,83,84],” I began buying everything and working my way backwards and forwards simultaneously. Their next album, “Sparkle In The Rain,” managed to keep the flames lit at full force while veering straight into rock territory, but for a decade after that, the band’s stadium moves alienated me. Then, my second, longer run as a booster happened with the release of “Good News From The Next World” in 1995. It was from that point that I was actually pining to see the band live again after the disappointment of the “Once Upon A Time Tour” of 1986 and the subsequent years that saw them fall even further out of my favor. But the desire to see the band live came afoul of the sagging commercial fortunes that saw the band waiting eight years before their next tour of The States.

The band I saw in 2002 was remarkably energized to hit much closer to the mark of their earlier sound and after that show, my fandom really hit fever pitch. Hearing songs like “Love Song,” “Themes For Great Cities,” and “I Travel” live for the first time [and played very well] would have such an effect. That’s when I began compiling my second cut at a Simple Minds boxed set of god. I discovered online bootlegs of the band [courtesy of links from the band’s official site] at their ’81-’84 peak and my previous admiration for the band grew prodigiously. I was now convinced that Simple Minds were the best live band ever, and they still had potential even decades later. As the band released three more albums in the ‘2005-2009” period I was itching to see them again. 

As it turned out, they didn’t hit these shores for a tour for an agonizing eleven years that time! Like a parched man crawling in the desert, I finally saw them again in 2013, and they were the most exciting concert I’ve ever seen, since the eleven years saw me intensify my fandom due not only to great live recordings and set lists littered with the material that I really wanted to hear, but a series of albums where the band were continually improving their approach to make ever better albums that really satisfied. And then when I saw them that year, they casually pulled out the best possible “Empires + Dance” deep cut with “This Fear Of Gods” utterly rocking my world.

This was the level that Simple Minds performances and my fandom had led me to. Against all odds, the band next made an acoustic album and tour that I wanted nothing to do with before decamping to make their best album since “Sparkle In The Rain,” though that’s the sixth time I’ve said that since 1995. That this latest tour came only five years [almost to the day] on the heels of my last, transcendental experience of the band meant that the pent up fandom was not quite on such an active boil. This meant that I did not lose myself in the moment in the same way that the last concert achieved. I’m a pretty analytical guy, and that, really, only ever happened to me at a concert for that last Simple Minds show in ’13.

With that I came to this show thinking more about it rather than simply reacting. And my thoughts led me to consider that the loss of Andy Gillespie had affected the band to a larger degree than I had prepared for. All Simple Minds tours from as soon as they counted Michael McNeil among their members has had a dedicated keyboard player. Certain eras of the band have relied very heavily on synthesizers for their coloration. On this tour, the keyboard duties were split between Charlie Burchill, who had played most of the keys on the album, and Gord Goudy, who had played acoustic guitars on the album. This was a worst of both worlds approach, I think. For one, it meant that both of the keyboardists were being distracted from their guitars.

Charlie playing to stage left as Gord manned the synth

The difference in Burchill’s focus from the last time, where he was on fire with incisive, questing playing [Echorich will testify, I’m sure], and this show, where he seemed distracted by the need to also play synths was noticeable. Most of the time there was nothing definite, but on a track such as “Love Song” it made a difference. And
“Love Song” is a song that should be overpowering live since it is built on a simple, anthemic riff that needs to come across as all-powerful. Moreover, by having just Goudy carry the synths, that would relegate him to acoustics for the scant few songs where they seemed welcome to me: “Stand By Love,” “Dirty Old Town,” or “See The Lights.” Goudy just posed with the acoustic during “Waterfront.” Then the band would have the full synth power they needed throughout the show instead of having half a synth player vacillating back and forth.

That was my main complaint, such as it was. In other aspects, the show was great. Sarah Brown is a great singer who adds a lot to the show. I love how Jim shares the spotlight with her and they really incorporate her into the band rather than just bolting her on. Cherrise Osei was a nice change from Mel Gaynor. She’s a different style of drummer, less heavy and Bonham influenced, which freshens up the set to these ears. Mel always had a problem with the lighter touch needed for the earlier material.

Ged Grimes is the tall guy on stage who locks down the all important bass lines that their best material thrive upon. He carries a lot of weight and fulfills an important function in this band. Gord Goudy was new to me. Even though he pulled a lot of weight on the “Cry” album of 2002 that we loved so much, he was not on the “Floating World” tour, so I never saw him until now. His gangling figure was rail thin, making even the svelte Grimes seem beefy. I’d like to see him stick to synths, if that’s a comfort zone for him. Otherwise, you know me. I’d prefer to really minimize the dreaded acoustic sound of this band onstage and the acoustic guitar he totes makes that always a possibility.

Nothing in the main sets was as weak as the fully acoustic “Speed Your Love To Me” we got in the soundcheck, but the fact remains that this band did pursue an acoustic album and tour to my dismay. And I would say that the acoustic tour informed the weaker arrangements that “Glittering Prize,” “Promised You A Miracle,” and “Love Song” delivered this evening.

Jim Kerr as a 58 year old singer works way better for me than the guy half that age. He needed to grown into his frontman role and the last three tours were way more enjoyable than the still unformed sprout who fronted the band [badly] in 1986. Kerr knows how to sing and maintain his voice now, thank you very much. He exhibits none of the ragged singing that had “graced” many a live B-side from the mid 80s-mid 90s. He dresses more simply and comfortably. He favors a backbend stage floor move that shows he’s keeping flexible and while we can still get 6-7 “let me see your hands” throughout a 2:15 show, I’m willing to not charge him too many fines for it. But rest assured it’s still in the Monastic comments on his report card.

Finally, the set list itself was, as it should be, the real star of the show. Songs I’d never heard live before are in boldface.

Simple Minds | The Tabernacle – Atlanta, GA | 10-8-18

Soundcheck

Speed Your Love To Me [acoustic]
Glittering Prize
Let The Day Begin [Sarah]

First Set

The Signal + The Noise
Waterfront
Love Song
Let There Be Love
Up On The Catwalk
Sense Of Discovery
Promised You A Miracle
The American
Hunter + the Hunted
Stand By Love
Dirty Old Town [Sarah] 

Second Set

Themes For Great Cities
She’s A River
Walk Between Worlds
Someone, Somewhere [In Summertime]
See The Lights
All The Things She Said
Dolphins
Don’t You [Forget About Me]
New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]

Encore

Let The Day Begin [Sarah]
Alive + Kicking
Sanctify Yourself

So that’s a pretty well balanced set list. Eight songs were new to me with three [I would have liked five] from the excellent new album. Not having a set that dipped into “Once Upon A Time” save for the three US singles was a real treat. The last time it was 5/8 songs played. It was nice not to hear “Ghostdancing” again. It always make me resent it’s not “I Travel!” Speaking of which, the sole disappointment this evening was not hearing that song. Mr. Ware had told me that he could die a happy man if he herd that one so he’s still got his work cut out for him, it seems.

Otherwise, have two of the other decent singles from “Real Life” aired with the stalwart “See The Lights” was a pleasant surprise. And the big wildcard for me was definitely “Dolphins” from “Black + White 050505.” How does the set stack up?

1 song

2 songs

5 songs

3 songs

3 songs

3 songs

1 song

1 song

1 song [2x]

4 songs

So that works out to eleven songs from the strongest era of their career. Six songs from the weakest era [though four songs were among the best to choose from the lot]. And seven songs from the robust modern era of the band. That’s a pretty good balance of material.  Analysis of the set lists from this tour reveals the following: 19 songs are played at every concert:

Guaranteed Set

  1. The Signal + The Noise
  2. Waterfront
  3. Up On The Catwalk
  4. Sense Of Discovery
  5. Promised You A Miracle
  6. The American
  7. Hunter + The Hunted
  8. Dirty Old Town
  9. Theme For Great Cities
  10. She’s A River
  11. Walk Between Worlds
  12. Someone Somewhere [In Summertime]
  13. See The Lights
  14. All the Things She Said
  15. Dolphins
  16. Don’t You [Forget About Me]
  17. New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]
  18. Alive + Kicking
  19. Sanctify Yourself

That’s a good mixture that ascribes classic status to a track like “The American,” which pleasingly shocks me! And the same goes for “Themes For Great Cities,” since they’ve played it every time I have seen the band for the last three tours. It makes a tremendous “return to stage” song for the second set or encore, doesn’t it? [and gives Jim a few extra minutes to chill out]. The fact that these numbers were being given parity with the bigger selling ones that made their fortune I guess was down to the lessons learned on the 5×5 Live tour I wish I’d gone into debt for.

Then there’s the list of 4-5 wildcards that slot into gaps in the well programmed arcs of the main setlist. There are some interesting numbers there as well. Nothing I would dislike hearing, that’s for sure, while some of these are Top 5 Simple Minds songs for yours truly.

Wild Cards

  1. Love Song [7 plays]
  2. Let There Be Love [6 plays]
  3. Stand By Love [12 plays]
  4. Hypnotised [8 plays]
  5. Book Of Brilliant Things [10 plays]
  6. Once Upon A Time [5 plays]
  7. Midnight Walking [5 plays]
  8. I Travel [5 plays]
  9. Celebrate [2 plays]
  10. Glittering Prize [4 plays]
  11. Let The Day Begin [4 plays]
  12. Moscow Underground [1 play]

Yow! There a pair of rare flowers in that greenhouse! “Celebrate” was only played on the Canadian dates, comrades. So you in the lower 48 can all calm down. Then, “Moscow Underground,” the best track on “Graffiti Soul,” has only gotten a single play in Washington D.C. thus far! The rarest song in this tour thus far. There are still a hefty 16 dates left in the tour, so who knows what other tunes may join the wildcards as part of the luck of the draw for the remaining audiences.


Now that I have finally seen the band with Mr. Ware, I think I will be content to have my Simple Minds memories. Three great shows have permanently diminished the trauma of 1986. I saw “I Travel” at least once, and will never forget the effect of hearing “This Fear Of Gods” live in 2013! While the latest show had some [not fatal] issues, I was also gifted with a handful of memorable peaks with the following songs that distinguished themselves within the set.

  • “The Signal + The Noise” – A modern Simple Minds classic that picked up where “Sons + Fascination” left off! A tremendous show opener!
  • “Up On The Catwalk” – I can’t believe that this was the first time I ever heard this one!
  • “The Hunter + the Hunted” – This was played the last time I saw them and it still thrilled tremendously.
  • “Themes For Great Cities” – I was smiling so hard on this one my face hurt! Did Simple Minds ever top this? I’ve seen it the last three tours and it’s a bulletproof thrill that always delivers!
  • “Dolphins” – The cinematic song from their “forgotten” album that never got the US release [even though I own a US promo CD with the street date that never came] was a surprise inclusion.
  • “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” – I have seen this on the last three tours but this time it had that special something that was the only live version I’d ever heard that could compare to the studio take. Magic!

So I think the days of driving halfway up the East Coast to Washington D.C. for a Simple Minds show are finally behind me. I need to curtail out of town trips as well so unless Simple Minds hit Asheville, NC or Greenville, SC [the latter with a 60 minute transit time] I think I’ll be sitting out any further Simple Minds tours. Their latest album was bulletproof to these ears. I now feel sated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Unless they decide to stage”5×5 Live” in America, or reunite the original lineup!

– 30 –

Posted in Concert Review, Core Collection, Scots Rock | 12 Comments

Simple Minds @ The Tabernacle – Atlanta 10-8-18 [part 4]

“Dolphins” certainly didn’t drag me down!

[…continued from last post]

I was impressed that the concert was entering the third act and only then did the band dip into their top selling “Once Upon A Time” album for the first time! That was actually impressive to me, but they played what I found to be the best single from that album, “All The Things She Said.” This gave Sarah Brown another chance to shine in a duet with Jim and where the band went next was truly unexpected. The lighting shifted dramatically to become otherworldly as they began playing the downbeat, haunting “Dolphins” from “Black + White 050505.” This was the first time that I had heard any material from that album; one which seemed to get lost in the shuffle between the long years between US tours.

The tune was a good choice to take the energy levels down before hitting the home stretch of the show. The lighting was subdued with the stage in shadows while spots rained down from above with a few banks of light lighting the stage from the side. Jim Kerr was offstage for the first part of the song which lent the performance yet another eerie aspect. If the band wanted to pace the energy levels down by that point, I would have expected perhaps the gorgeous “Utopia” from “Walk Between Worlds,” but I was not going to look this gift horse in the mouth. 

“Now sing it in Japanese!”

Given the severity of the energy ebb that accompanied “Dolphins,” it made all of the sense in the world that they would then follow it with “Don’t You [Forget About Me],” which gave the show a real burst of energy, even if It came via the most overplayed song in the band’s canon. Just as in the last time I had seen them in 2013, Jim Kerr led the singalong portion of the song by saying “now sing it in Japanese, etc.” I was grateful that the days of the band stretching it out to 10+ minutes or more were thankfully behind them, but I imagined now that we were in the home stretch of the show, that it would be more or less songs I was indifferent to ahead of them. I could not have been more wrong.

Sarah on cowbell gave this one the boost that it had always needed

Following this the band brilliantly took my interest level way up again by kicking into my favorite song from “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84],” the thrilling title song. Better yet, the rendition this evening was the best I have ever heard from the band! Jim seemed to be pitching his voice lower on the intro, hitting the vibe that was present on the original recording for the first time for me. And the factor that took the song over the top with perfection was the steady cowbell that Sarah Brown played throughout it. It approximated that motorik drum machine chugging through the original just perfectly! They let the song stretch out a little further than in the last two times I had seen them and this was definitely the most awesome version of one of my very top Simple Minds songs that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. This was hitting a plateau for me.

“Alive + Kicking” only made it to #2 but they still get bragging rights on it…and all of the royalties

And with that the second set was over. The band took as much as a minute before returning to the stage for a second play of one of the songs that we had heard in the sound check. That’s right; Echorich got to hear “Let The Day Begin…twice.  It was just like we had seen earlier in the sound check. I really felt that this song needed to have the heavy injection of sawtooth synths that the version on the “Big Music” album had won me over with. The walloping drums were only half of the equation. Sadly, this was the only “Big Music” song in the set this evening. It would have been great to have heard “Blindfolded” or “Midnight Walking” but it seems like the previous “greatest hits” tour was my taste of “Big Music” with three of the songs from it played at least six months in advance of the album’s release.

The band left the stage to the strains of… what else? “The Jean Genie.” As usual Kerr was the last man off the stage as he grooved to the namesake song of the band

At that point, it was time to trot out the big guns to end the show. We got “Alive + Kicking” and the more energetic “Sanctify Yourself” to finish the night out. A Simple Minds encore is never going to be a peak experience for this fan, but overall, the selection of a set list this evening was fairly well balanced and considered. That they only played three songs from “Once Upon A Time” was a surprise that I appreciated.

Hearing hfter the show, we stuck around by the semi that the road crew were loading so that Mr. and Mrs. Ware could perhaps get a photo with Jim. Coincidentally, earlier in the year they were discussing what plans they might make for their 30th anniversary and Mrs. Ware offered the notion of seeing Simple Minds as an option in advance of the tour announcement. It was kismet that it played out so perfectly.

As the small crown built up around the band’s 18-wheler, which was getting ready to receive the stage gear, we saw an elderly man in a Simple Minds soccer scarf lighting his pipe and talking with the road crew. that was Jim Kerr’s father, whom he had pointed out during the soundcheck. Apparently, the elder Kerr was a big country music fan, so he had come over to The States to see his son play the world famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville the next night. Mr. Kerr eventually made his way over to the barrier where a fan began speaking with him. He said that Jim was likely to come out but that Charlie was more shy. Sure enough, it was only after waiting about 20 minutes that the younger Kerr came over to speak with the 30 or so fans who had waited by the loading area.

I wanted this shirt ever since Tim Pope loaned it to Neil Young for the “Wonderin'” video. In the 90s I got it!

Appropriately, it was Mr. Ware who had taught me the technique of waiting by the stage exit to meet one’s favorite musicians and that was a game changer for this Monk. As Kerr spoke briefly with the fans, we waited our turn to get the desired pic of The Wares and Jim Kerr for their 30th anniversary. Of course, Kerr was pleased to take the time. I took the shot with the actual camera and the flash had been turned off so there was a little blur in the night shot, but nothing fatal! Kerr even complimented me on my shirt. Minds fans would say that it was a bit redolent of the “Sparkle In The Rain” inner sleeve.

SITR inner sleeve

I had considered wearing my Magazine tee but Simple Minds merited something a little more rarefied, so I wore my Tim Pope shirt. You may remember seeing it first the same way I did, on Neil Young when the director loaned it to Young to wear in the great “Wonderin'” video. A decade later my friend Tristan was getting ready for a garage sale and begorrah! There is was in the sale pile, so yes, Tristan once gave me the shirt off of his back [in a manner of speaking].

We have now seen Simple Minds for the fourth time, once again with the stalwart Echorich in our company but for the first time, I had Mr. Ware in my company, filling the berth that had been empty for three previous shows across a thirty year span. Not that I didn’t try to make it happen! This was a final correction of a problem by my reckoning that had finally been worked out. This weekend had been a relaxing time with Mr. Ware and our wives with the significant enhancement that Echorich brought to the table. Our lodgings were within a mile of each other and we stayed together for three days before leaving for home on Tuesday after the show and we tried to keep the schedule as free and open as possible, so there were many hours spent just hanging out and talking. This was a fine time in great company with a great show by one of our favorite bands touring behind a superb album. But how did it compare to the other three shows I’d seen?

Next: …Findings Shared

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Simple Minds @ The Tabernacle – Atlanta 10-8-18 [part 3]

Bassist Ged Grimes attacked those iconic bass lines with gusto

[…continued from last post]

The familiar bass rondo that heralded “The Hunter + The Hunted” brought forth a shot of recognition from the crowd. This was one of the best deep cuts on “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” and though it also made the last set list I had seen the band with in 2013, this evening it was really taking off and fulfilling its boundless promise in the best way possible! The dreamy Romanticism of the lyric found a perfect foundation in the band’s rendition which skirted the edge between lush and powerful in a way that most cannot follow. This was the third peak of the evening thus far for me.

Next was a curveball I would not have anticipated. They pulled “Stand By Love” out of their hat. The band’s stab at a “Pinball Wizard” [albeit with a soul stomp added to it] was one of the more agreeable tracks from “Real Life” and this marked the second time that I had heard a song from that album this evening, and none of these were even my favorite “See The Lights.” While I would not say no to an electro arrangement of this tune, Goudie’s acoustic strumming really had an appropriate berth here.

Sarah and Jim shared the spotlight quite often during the show

Then they took the bus further down the folkie road with their cover of “Dirty Old Town,” by Ewen MacColl. This divisive number I know to be alienating to Echorich and a few other Simple Minds fans I encounter online. I bear it on the album because vocalist Sarah Brown sings it so profoundly well. I tend to ignore Kerr’s verses and wait for her to sing again. In concert this evening, Kerr wisely sat the song out, only adding his dulcet tones to the chorus. And with Sarah carrying the whole song it simply sounded fantastic. Kerr says she sings it like Mahalia Jackson and I can’t argue with that statement! With that song, the first set ended.

I can never tire of ‘Theme For Great Cities!’

After a 10-15 minute break the band, minus Kerr, strode onstage and laid into another peak experience; “Theme For Great Cities,” our second track from “Sister Feelings Call” this evening! Needless to say, Goudie stuck to the synths [good boy] and left the fret mangling to Burchill and the rhythms hammered onward courtesy of Ossei and Grimes;

who anchored the whole thing with his bass. Wow. The track is always a stormer and this evening was no different. They’ve played it the last three times I’ve seen them and its bulletproof. There’s no way I could ever get tired or jaded hearing its magnificence.

“She’s A River” was the song that welcomed me back to Simple Minds in 1995

It was in 1995 when I chanced to hear a song on the radio that let me know that it was okay to listen to Simple Minds again. “She’s a River” would not be mistaken for an “Empires + Dance” outtake, but it was an undeniably successful, if mainstream, vision for the band who had flailed away for a decade by that point without impressing me much. I went right out and got the “Good News From The Next World” album, and hairstyles notwithstanding, it made me want to see the band live from that point onward. I didn’t think that would ever happen following the 1986 debacle I’d witnessed. It took me seven years before I saw the band in 2002, but they’ve played “She’s A River” each time I’ve seen them since then and it remains a fixture in their set that reminds me how the band have honed their direction from that point onward to the point where they are touring this year on an album with no missteps to these ears at all.

We finally got another track from said album when the title track was the next song played. I loved Charlie’s insistent riff which seemed to be channeling his fiery playing on the cover of “Needle + The Damage Done” that had recorded in 2001. Next came Burchill once again taking the lead with the distinctively funky [it really is] intro to the wondrous “Someone, Somewhere [In Summertime]” as on the band’s 12″ version of the song. It was another song from “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” rendered brilliantly by this band and there’s nothing quite as exciting as that solo setting the fans up for something luxurious. That was followed by the always dignified beauty of the band’s final US Top 40 hit from 1991, “See The Lights.” It’s always the best song the band had made in a decade to me and I appreciate its direct honesty and subtlety. Two factors largely missing from this band during that period.

Next: …Wildcard

 

 

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Simple Minds @ The Tabernacle – Atlanta 10-8-18 [part 2]

They did it again! Simple Minds began the show with a fantastic new song instead of older material.

[continued from last post]

When I had last seen Simple Minds, in 2013, they pulled a rabbit out of their hat by starting the show with “Broken Glass Park,” a vibrant new song I didn’t expect. This time they were touring behind their best album since 1983, so naturally, they pulled the top quality “Signal And The Noise” out of their quiver of songs first. The song was a hugely successful throwback to the driving, motorik sound of “Sons + Fascination” coupled with a tremendous lyric that would have been alien to the abstract imagery they favored back then, so naturally we all immediately got very excited! There’s nothing wrong with giving your best shot right up front, is there?

Charlie Burchill – guitar hero

Like the 2013 show, they then followed this up with the expansive statement of intent that was “Waterfront.” Either Charlie or Gordon Goudie triggered the bass loop [they each had synths adjacent] and then we were off and bouncing. If ever there was a song made for live performance, it’s this one with its monolithic, four-to-the-floor beat and its series of crescendoes that plateau ever upward. Then the distinctive random wave intro of what could only be “Love Song” hit the PA and we were treated to the first of the hits from what we’ll call the Monk-zone of Minds fandom that pre-dated “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84].” This is one of my top Simple Minds songs but tonight the energy was not focused. The lack of a dedicated keyboard player as well as [I’m going to say it] the recent experience of the acoustic tour has apparently rubbed off on the band to its detriment. Both Charlie and Gord Goudy had synth rigs onstage, but that meant that sometimes Charlie split between synths and lead guitar and Goudy did the same with his acoustic guitars.

Now this wasn’t the fully acoustic performance like “Speed Your Love To Me” had been in the soundcheck; the song had the vibrancy of rock music, but what I found critical to the potency of “Love Song” was the doubling of the guitars and synths together on the iconic riff. In every other performance of this song I had seen, it had all of the impact that the song has always had in listening to the album version. Tonight, the lack of synths piling on that riff led to the dissipation of its energy. So while it wasn’t a flat out disaster, it did stand as weak as compared to the last two shows I had seen where they had played it in 2002 and 2013.

This band was tailor made for cherry picking the cream of the “Real Life” album

Next, something happened that was shocking to me. The last time I had seen the band they leaned heavily on their breakthrough “Once Upon A Time” album with five of its eight songs played. That I still had a thrilling time was down to everything else about the set. That would not happen this evening. Instead, other albums that had been under represented in the live sets I had seen would get the nod. I’m not crazy about “Real Life” but I did think that there was an EP worth of goods there. One of the songs from that album that delivered was “Let There Be Love,” which I had not had the pleasure of hearing live before. This version of the band were well suited to do it up right, with new drummer Cherisse Osei backing off from the John Bonham-influenced Mel Gaynor sound for something a little more dynamic. There were four songs from that album that stood apart from the mishaps. Would I hear more of them tonight?

Charlie and Sarah

From that nice surprise, the band worked their way backward, skipping the troubling middle 80s period of the band for something that built on the platform that “Let There Be Love” provided and took the energy higher. Much higher. Good gravy, it’s hard to believe, but I have never heard this band lay into the propulsive “Up On The Catwalk” live before! Until this evening! They really scored a goal with this one! This gave Ms. Osei a change to really work out the chunky rhythms so crucial to the song’s success.

Then, afterward, Jim Kerr brought her to the front of the stage and introduced her to the audience. It’s fascinating to see this band incorporate women, especially women of color, into their makeup with no regard for conventions or expectations. I’m up for anything as long as the band honor their sound or build on it in coherent ways. Kerr asked Osei what her favorite song from the “Walk Between Worlds” album was and she replied “A Sense Of Discovery.” The band then played the dreamlike track, which cheekily incorporated the bridge vocal structure of “Alive + Kicking” into what I found to be a much better song. Charlie has a great solo on this one and for once, Goudy’s acoustic guitars had a welcome place here where they made more sense. They then launched into a version of “Promised You A Miracle” that felt a little diffuse without the heavy synths that the original recording was so heavily dependent on. Truth be told, the arrangement here seemed to recall the version of “Live In The City Of Lights.” The last two times I had seen the band, they had not made that choice, but at least they kept the energy level of the song up without the unnecessary downbeat coda of that 1986 version of the song.

“The American” really gets the Monk blood pumping!

They next dipped in to The Monk Zone for “The American.” I was fantastically excited to hear this finally in 2013 and tonight was not any different! This song was tailor made for chanting along to the brilliant chorus and I was thrilled that Mr. Ware, who was next to me, was hearing it with me this time. I should mention that the audience were standing [as you can see in the shots of the show] all night long, so we tried our best not to careen into our adjacent spouses. That’s hard to do when your favorite band [did I just say that?] is playing one of your top three songs and doing a great job of it. My only regret was that they played the 7″ version since less than seven minutes on this one always feels like a tease!

Next: …New Peaks Ahead

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Simple Minds @ The Tabernacle – Atlanta 10-8-18 [part 1]

You might think that this was an easy photo to take…and you’d be wrong. All good pix by Ms. Monk, Ms. Ware, + Echorich. Bad pix by yours truly.

So I have already discussed the pain and degradation of buying the tickets for this Simple Minds show earlier. I was no fan of the fact that if I wanted a block of five tickets for Simple Minds in Atlanta on October 8th, I pretty much had to lay out for VIP tickets due to the lovely ‘bots of Ticketmobster [and their third party partners in scalping] eliminating 80% of the seating within seconds of the opening of sales. Read all about it here, if you have a strong constitution.

Having made a kind of peace with that fact over the months prior to the show, by the time we rolled into Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, we linked up with Echorich and Mr. + Mrs. Ware for a weekend of fun and good fellowship that involved dining, plenty of sitting around conversing, and yes, record shopping for the gentlemen. The ladies had high tea and glassblowing; two far more elegant pursuits to engage them. The tales of the record store are yet to come. Today we’ll get right down to the nitty gritty on the hot topic of the 40th Anniversary “Walk Between Worlds” North American tour from the band. The band had booked a mind-staggering 24 date tour, only to add an additional seven dates at the end for a pulse-pounding 31 dates on the road. The biggest tour since 1986, surely? Heck, their last North American tour was just seven dates!


The scarf was reversible and very colorful

We arrived at 5:15 for the appointed time for VIP check-in. We were immediately issued our poster/soccer scarf, lanyard and wristbands. The soccer scarf [Kerr is often prone to wearing these in concert, hence their appearance here] was much nicer than I had been anticipating. We later looked at the poster which was custom printed on top quality stock with the show date/location and it too, was of a very high caliber. So no Scot thrift shortchanging us. We waited in the concession area of the venue. The full-Monty VIPers [we opted for the “student package”] got a meet and greet first as well as a signed set list, so they were called up the stairs earlier. About 15 minutes later, we were all called up to the seating area where the band would soundcheck two exclusive songs.

VIPers awaited the band for the soundcheck

I had visions of “Empires + Dance” deep cuts roiling through my brain for the last few months, because to my thinking, anyone who would spend $160-$250 for a ticket didn’t need to hear “Oh Jungleland!” With that 5×5 tour experience under their belts, and having heard “This Fear Of Gods”[!] on their brief, seven date “Greatest Hits” tour in 2013, I had set my expectations fairly high!

The band ambled out onstage as Kerr got the ball rolling

Jim played the host in an amiable, low-key manner. There would be some Q&A with questions presubmitted by email a week or two before the tour actually began. And two songs not on the set list played, but Jim told us right off that we would be getting an extra song this soundcheck of something they really wanted to take another pass at before it would be showing up in the final set list that evening, so three cheers for a bonus round. The first question picked was “if you were not in Simple Minds, what would you be doing?” Kerr passed the mic to each member for their answer before talking about how the only job he ever had apart from when he was a teen was Simple Minds. He didn’t think too much of mopping up a butcher shop.  With the band on stage, they launched into a “different version” of “Speed Your Love To Me,” and while I hoped briefly for the famous “electro” arrangement of that, what we got instead was an acoustic duet between singer Sarah Brown and Kerr. <SFX: foghorn>. Oh my. This was not starting off on a good foot.

The “Big Music” tour of Europe that never crossed the pond was where they first started making these stage moves, much to my dismay. Every thing I had read about that tour made me glad that it hadn’t. How they could miss the boat on the tour for such a solid album stymied me. Then, to manifest my darkest fears, they recorded an acoustic album and did a further acoustic tour [also mercifully absent in America] before turning around and recording their best album since 1983 as if to make my head spin from the aesthetic whiplash.

Jim talked up Magazine to hoots from Mr. Ware, Echorich, and I 

Then they broke for a few questions. One fan has asked about the best bands that had never made it and drummer Cherisse Osei talked about Mika, a performer she had drummed with earlier. Bassist Gen Grimes mentioned Danny Wilson, whom he had played bass with on two fine albums [though “Mary’s Prayer” was actually a US Top 30 hit]. 2nd guitarist/keys man Gord Goudie had played for years with Echo + The Bunnymen; surely a band who had “made it” in almost any sense of the word. But leave it to Jim and Charlie to conclude that Magazine were the best band that had failed to ignite. Jim mentioned how they were trying to live up to the Magazine ideals early in their career. I’d say that “Empires + Dance” was their own “Secondhand Daylight.”

Charlie agreed with Jim on Magazine

Then they played their next song, which thankfully, was electrified, though no synths were used. The uptick in energy was welcome, but this was the weakest version of “Glittering Prize” that I’d ever heard.  Then they broke for a few for the last of the questions from the audience. Strangely enough, one woman whose question was picked was not in attendance. Then they got ready to perform the bonus third song of the soundcheck. The one that would be later in the show. As soon as Jim mentioned touring in America, I spotted it as The Call’s “Let The Day Begin” coming right up to inflame Echorich’s gall bladder. He’s not a fan of this song in their repertoire, to put it mildly. They did it the last time we saw the band together in 2013, but that was before they had locked down the arrangement on the “Big Music” album to come. They had not yet given the tune it’s walloping “Waterfront” drum sound, or its buzzing synths. This evening it was performed as a duet between Sarah Brown, who took lead, and Kerr. The walloping drums were at least in but the tune was bereft of any synths, though certainly electrified. It was not the “Big Music” version, which is the only version of this song that I’m actually down with.

Only 1/3 into the tour and the merch was thin on the ground

And then it was over and they said their goodbyes, and drifted offstage until showtime. Leaving us to exit the stage to head back to the concession area. It was near seven with an 8:00 showtime. The standard admissions were not yet in so we checked out the merch table. The pickings were slim. There were, I kid you not, new versions of the 1986 tour shirt that I was still trying to forget for sale! Half the shirts had than damned Claddagh on it. This does not fly in Monktown. There was a gray shirt with the album art in negative on it but the clear winner was the shirt with the “Summer” single artwork on it [see left]. When I got there there were only XS, M, and 3X sizes available! Then they blacked out the M leaving only the drastic extremes for sale! Too bad since it was the one to get. I settled for the gray album art shirt [see right], as did Echorich, who also had his heart set on the “Summer” design. At least the prices were fair – $25 for shirts and $45 for the hoodie. But no tour book was in evidence either. They seem to have one on the webstore so maybe they were sold out on the road. Mr. Ware also wanted the “Summer” design so maybe we’ll all lean heavily on Echorich, who is seeing the show in nearby Tampa in November.

So I have to say that this evening had gotten off to an underwhelming start for the VIP outlay. Had I any choice in the matter, I would have been annoyed that paying 2x cover for tickets merely got me uninspiring versions of songs I’d heard earlier under better circumstances. Of course, I simply bought VIP because it was the only way to get a block of five seats as the seats were evaporating 20-40 a second as the sale opened! Since I saw two synth rigs onstage, I knew that we’d get have to get some synthesizer in the program, but it seemed like the acoustic tour had colored Simple Minds attitudes, and not for what I’d consider the better. Whenever there had been acoustic guitars in their music in the past, they’d really lost me. I was fervently hoping that this VIP soundcheck would not be representative of the main event.

Next: …Fingers Crossed

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