[…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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After collecting our merch from the locker we had rented [money well spent] before the 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 Kerr. 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 crowd 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.
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 an 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.
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 it 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 along too, 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