After the release of the “5×5 Live” boxed set, the band’s next move was to… keep working the legacy action. This time, Virgin was preparing yet another boxed set with what is now the definitive Simple Minds compilation album. “Celebrate” was available in two and three disc formats, for a granular fit to the level of ardor potential purchasers might have. The three disc set was particularly impressive in that it contained really every single the band ever released in most territories, with new material recorded during the last year or two, salting the pot nicely. As mentioned earlier, Jim Kerr posted to simpleminds.com at least once a month on the band’s activities, and the tales of new sessions recorded with the likes of Steve Hillage couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow or two along the way.
Several new songs had already been rolled into the endless tour setlist, and some of these tracks had been kicking around for as long as since 2010. “Broken Glass Park” had even begun as a holdover from the Lostboy! project before ultimately getting assimilated into the Simple Minds brand. Kerr’s writing sessions with Iain Cook, of CHVRCHES had yielded the reflective [get it?] “Broken Glass Park” as well as “Blood Diamonds,”which had been kicked around for quite some time. Another new Kerr/Burchill song, “Stagefright,” was given away as a free download by the band. All three of these songs were added to the “Celebrate” package in varying degrees. “Stagefright” only graced the 3xCD box version.
The one amazing thing about that 3xCD box, was that one could buy it, use disc two as a frisbee, and then have a very tight representation of everything that I considered valuable by the band, with the exception of losing “See The Lights,” but that would be a sacrifice I would be willing to make! The band then undertook, yet another “Greatest Hits +” tour, keeping in mind that they had been emphasizing hits live on their 2009 “30 Years Live” tour, and most of their numerous summer festival gigs were heavily nostalgic. Only the “Graffiti Soul” tour had trafficked in contemporary sounds in late 2009.
Of course, the 5×5 tour was a kind of alternate nostalgia with absolutely nothing past 1982 being played, so the notion of the band heading out for yet another jaunt of playing the hits would seem to be diminishing returns.Fortunately, the effect on the band of 5×5 was galvanizing. When that tour wrapped up in late Spring of 2012, the rest of the year’s dates managed to incorporate some of that now hot, older material to varying degrees. While one would hear a show with “This Fear Of Gods” jostling for airtime with “Alive + Kicking,” this still constituted a huge leap of progress.
By March of 2013, Virgin released “Celebrate” and found it well regarded and popular enough to crack the top 20 UK LP chart. “Broken Glass Park” and “Blood Diamonds” were released as radio promos and received UK airplay. For Record Store Day in 2013, Virgin released 1000 copies of a 12″ featuring the Mylo remix of “Promised You A Miracle” on the A-side b/w “Broken Glass Park” on the B-side. This was matched in the USA by the release here of the “Celebrate” set in a single disc format, yet still sporting “Broken Glass Park” and “Blood Diamonds” as evidence of forward movement. Simple Minds pre-announced their year end arena concerts and this found erstwhile influence and now reactivated Ultravox relegated to opening act status.
As if to underscore this news with slashing irony, “Blood Diamonds” was given a wonderful remix by John Foxx + The Maths. This was released as a download in the UK at first, but this eventually found its way into US download stores, much to my delight. By the late Summer of 2013, I finally got the news that I had been waiting diligently for since 2002; the band were undertaking a brief North American tour, their first in 11 years! I might not have had the funds to catch the 5×5 tour, but I wasted no time in planning an excursion to see the band live at the same Washington D.C. venue that I had caught them at in 2002. Full disclosure on this wondrous event here. This show was even better than in 2002 for numerous reasons, primarily that my wife [who is a fan] was with me and chasinvictoria this time, and that I finally got to meet the sterling Echorich; no stranger to this blog’s comments. Echorich and I even partook of vinyl communion in Georgetown’s record stores without being reduced to fighting and grabbing! Suffice to say, that October of 2013 was a long time coming for this Simple Minds fan.
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