The end of the “Graffiti Soul” tour in September 2010 offered a bombshell of sorts with the sudden departure of bassist Eddie Duffy, who had held down the low frequency position in the band since their “Floating World Tour” of 2002. He eventually decamped to The States, where he’s working as a Realtor in Boston! His replacement in Simple Minds didn’t take long to be chosen, given the urgency of the situation. Ged Grimes [ex-Danny Wilson] had played on some of Kerr’s radio promo dates for his Lostboy! project, so he was dropped into the deep end and managed to absorb an awful lot of Simple Minds music in time for their Paris date.
After Jim Kerr’s Lostboy! tour was cancelled following his mother’s decline and death, the mothership came calling for the singer once more. The Summer of 2011 was spent performing a Greatest Hits Forest Tour, which was a fund raiser for the Forestry Commission. The band were performing the usual hits in an al fresco setting which couldn’t have hurt any. Going back to the usual hits till so soon after the band’s “30 Years Live” Summer tour of 2009 seemed like the band’s hit legacy was exerting an ever tighter grip on the band’s throat. Only the “Graffiti Soul” tour of Winter 2009 offered any respite. Still, the Summer ’11 gigs would probably be a lot more hospitable than the usual sheds and arenas. The tour hit the following forests in the UK:
Fri 10 June – Bedgebury Pinetum & Forest, Nr Goudhurst, Kent.
Sat 11 June – Thetford Forest, Nr Brandon, Suffolk.
Fri 17 June – Westonbirt Arboretum, Nr Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
Sat 18 June – Sherwood Pines Forest Park, Nr Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire.
Fri 24 June – Dalby Forest, Nr Pickering, North Yorks.
Sat 25 June – Cannock Chase Forest, Nr Rugeley, Staffordshire.
Sun 3 July – Delamere Forest, Delamere, Cheshire.
After the Forest Tour rolled into a more typical Summer European Tour, the thought occurred that just how long were Simple Minds going to milk their hit legacy? As it turned out, not for very much longer. By 2011, the band’s management surely must have noticed that early Simple Minds were finally beginning to overshadow their arena-filling years due to the march of time and musical fashion. Not only were contemporary Simple Minds and even Lostboy! more in sync with the band’s Post-Punk era than the group had been in a long time, but other bands like The Horrors, or their by now cheerleaders Manic Street Preachers, were drawing from the sort of sounds that Simple Minds had pioneered over thirty years earlier. Press had finally owed up to the band’s pre-arena legacy as being the thrilling music that it was. The old adage that if you stick around long enough, you’ll bask in the aura of fashion as it cycles back to meet you was coming true, and the group’s management wisely told the band they should work that action.
How they did this was an unprecedented and thrilling event called 5X5. The group would first release a boxed set of their first five albums [six, really, if you count “Sister Feelings Call”] finally packaged as they should have been nearly 30 years earlier and abetted with most of the appropriate bonus tracks that had been long since missing in the digital realm. All of those appropriate non-LP B-sides and remixes from the band’s Arista history would finally make the journey to the silver disc. Adding benefit to bounty, this box would retail for a modest amount of money. I recall paying about $22 for six CDs packed with the bonus material that I had been waiting decades for. All good, but that was only the prelude.
Soon after the news of the reissues dropped, the band announced that they would be undertaking a special tour of the UK and Europe where they would be not just playing their well-regarded “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” album along with a selection of hits filling the show out. How pedestrian that might have been, Instead, they were playing five tracks each from the first five albums incorporating songs from “Life in A Day” all the way up to the aforementioned “New Gold Dream.” I wrote about this at the time, regretting that I did not have the funds to drop on a trip abroad to see one [or more] of these shows in the European Theatre. It just didn’t seem realistic of me to expect to attend this, the ultimate concert I could have scarcely imagined my favorite band ever undertaking. Music rags like Mojo and Q went into overdrive and when the shows began in February, I began the pointless exercise of mentally kicking myself for not going deep into debt to attend at least one of these shows. Three years later, it remains a true musical regret.
I can only imagine that it was a bittersweet event for Eddie Duffy, who had pressed the band to include material from the early days and saw rarities like “Chelsea Girl” or “Factory” added to the band’s “Black + White” tour like rare gifts from the gods. Now, the band were giving an embarrassment of riches, the likes of which, had not been heard since 1981 at the very least. April saw the band issuing a 12″ for Record Store Day featuring a Moby remix of “Theme For Great Cities” and a 2012 John Leckie remix of the classic “I Travel.” the new mixes were certainly worth the time and effort, with Leckie going much further to please my Monastic ear than the flawed-as-ever Moby.
While the 5×5 Tour was turning heads, another thread that would affect future Simple Minds development was revealed, when the Dark Flowers project was released. Jim Kerr had a single song on the Lostboy! album that had been co-written with ex-B-Movie/Associates guitarist Paul Statham [“Return Of the King”] and now he had contributed to Statham’s project, along with others, such as Peter Murphy, who had employed Statham for many years in his band, The 100 Men. It made perfect sense for Kerr to be working with a musical peer like Statham, who had kept very busy in the years following the implosion of the not-entirely-unlike-Simple-Minds B-Movie.
Then, as 2012 was wrapping up, a year of unprecedented focus by the band on exactly what I had loved about the group for over 30 years, they unleashed the news that there would be another boxed set from Virgin Records this year, featuring the full compliment of all 30 tracks that were played during the “5×5 Live” tour. This second live album in the band’s official discography would go along way in erasing the painful legacy that their last live effort had engendered back in 1987.
Next: …The Ultimate Simple Minds Live Album