[…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
I saw them in Charleston SC in 1986. They were staying at the same hotel I was and they wandered into the lounge. Me and two of my friends ended up drinking a great deal of beer with them. They were all so personable and it was a great thrill to talk to them about their music. I started talking to them about Sons and Fascination as well as New Gold Dream. They appeared surprised when I told them that New Gold Dream was my fave. I do not think they expected that reaction back them. Great memories!
Mel Creighton – Well, that sounds like a hell of a great way to spend time in a Charleston, SC hotel! I would not have wanted to have met Simple Minds in 1986. I was so down on their changes at that time I would have been a real dour cuss. Plus, with 32 further years of [wildly variable] fandom, I would be in a much better space now to chew the fat with the band intelligently. Would that it were so simple.
I reckon this seems like the right moment to check in. I’ve held off as I wanted to let Mr. Monk have the story unfold at a leisurely pace. It was indeed a superb show and a wonderful weekend with friends both old and new. Mr. Monk has summarized the show perfectly and I really can’t say much more. Yeah, I so would have loved to have heard “I Travel”, but maybe it was just as well. I probably would have burst into flames. Or fainted.
Between this past summer’s RonKon event and this anniversary celebration with Simple Minds, I’ve had two deeply immersive trips that have been absolutely perfect. And let me say this, if you enjoy Mr. Monk and Echorich’s eloquent comments here, you should spend a couple of hours browsing a record store with them. Or with Chasinvictoria. The running commentary is part music history lesson, part comedy routine, and always highly entertaining. I witnessed other patrons in every store we visited pause their browsing and just take time to listen.
And our conversations continue…
Mr. Ware – This has definitely been a most enjoyable summer for your company! The pace of the L.A. trip was diametrically opposed to the Simple Minds trip but both were very enjoyable and ultimately rewarding. So we didn’t get “I Travel,” but at least you got a snap with the agreeable Mr. Kerr – even though we didn’t go for top dollar VIP. I’m also happy that you got to meet Echorich in person since he’s a stellar gent not only online, but especially in person! I wish I could hang out with him on a regular basis. And for the record there’s nothing I enjoy more than shopping for music with my friends, so I’m glad it’s not tiresome for you.
For me, having that great picture with Jim has an authenticity and sincerity that is far more satisfying than if we had paid top dollar just to stand in line for the obligatory VIP photo op.
Yes, it is very easy to slip into a bit of tunnel-vision where all that is reality floats between waxing lyrical and pontificating on music of ages gone by.
It was wonderful to be a part of you and your Missus having such a wonderful experience. One of the best things about bands from our “era” still out there plying their trade is that the audience seems to be so invested in their performance. I’ve been to “Dinosaur” bands’ tours and sure there are some rabid fans, but those artists don’t play to the intimacy, not just of venue size, but intimacy of importance that they recognize the music has for their fans.
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Ahhh….Dolphins…I’m still reliving that performance. Black + White 050505 is the album that cemented, in my mind, that Simple Minds had returned in full strength. Dolphins closes the album with an emotional heaviness, relying heavily on treated guitar and synths that approximate the “weight” of falling through deep waters. It is some of Charlie Burchill’s most evocative playing for the last 30 years. At the show, this was truly a moment. When JK came up to us after the show I made sure to thank him for it’s inclusion in the set which prompted was seemed to me to be a heart felt “your welcome.”
I have to say my real disappointment was not getting more from Big Music. It can’t be considered anything but a triumphant album and, yes we were treated to 3 tracks 5 years ago, but if we could have just have had Midnight Walking or Liaison, two songs that would have held up well with the less synth oriented show, it would have gone a long way to level the playing field when I knew I’d get Alive and Kicking and Sanctify Yourself. I understand, that even though it was Atlanta, this was more “heartland, radio friendly” America and playing the songs which appealed to that American demographic 30+ years ago made sense for the band. But I can and always will dream/hope.
The Atlanta show was a wonderful weekend + of fellowship – renewing old and making new friendships. There was laughter, wonderfully shared and diverging musical thoughts and opinions and loads of laughter. Jim and I did our best to educate anyone within earshot to our opinions on records we thumbed through and welcomed all who ventured to join us on our soap box. Making the acquaintance of Mr. + Ms. Ware was a delight and I look forward to sharing more time with them in future.
In the end – to quote C.S. Lewis, A Good Time Was Had By All.
Echorich – Fortunately, everyone seeing this tour will be getting that spectacular set piece. Not only was the music gorgeous, but the lighting was perfection. The last two Simple Minds tours have had top quality lighting in my estimation. Lighting is something I usually don’t notice unless it’s great enough to make an impression, and the last two tours certainly did. It’s funny that we got previews from “Big Music” the last time, but nothing this time except for your bete noir track “Let The Day Begin” – twice! At least the other dates seem to be getting “Midnight Walking” played quite a lot, and since Kerr is on the record as liking that song best, I suppose it’s down to that. But yeah, “Liaison” and “Blindfolded” would play really well nest to [more] songs from “Walk Between Worlds!” After I analyzed the set lists I was pleasantly surprised at how they measured up, all things considered. That they play “Celebrate” in Canada shows that they think hard about trying to get the right balance.
I like hanging out with you since I’m just a rube from the sticks while you grew up in the heart of the city that never sleeps. Your knowledge goes a lot deeper than mine so I get to soak up some of your knowledge when we shop together. Like that WAH! comp I had no knowledge of. I never see his stuff in the bins, but you knew the whole story of the “fake bootleg” so I could buy with confidence. I’m glad you got to meet some more of my oldest friends in The Wares. I love mixing my friends up when at all possible.
I saw that Midnight Walking was in the set for a while and now Book of Brilliant Things, which works SO much better for this lineup than Glittering Prize, has been added to the setlist. Kudos to SM for mining their catalogue. Thank goodness for those 5X5 shows and the focus on being prepared.
While I’m very sorry I could not be there, I’m so happy to read of the concert and fellowship amongst people I hold in very high regard indeed. Glad Mr. Kerr and company put on a sufficiently pleasing show for such knowledgable guests!
chasinvictoria – Merely “knowledgable?!” My good man, we are exacting guests! We are the standard by which exacting guests are measured… and found wanting!