Disc two features the second set, as Simple Minds like to have a break in their 2+ hour concerts. And their go-to song upon returning from said break was their instrumental classic, “Theme For Great Cities.” Of course, the ulterior motive is to give Jim Kerr a wee bit longer to chill out, but anything that insures that in every Simple Minds concert one can get this powerful song served up is more than fine with me. The longer ambient intro lent this one a slight difference from the last time. Any you can get it, be thankful that this amazing “Sister Feelings Call” track was now afforded must-play status.
The version of “She’s A River” here was surprisingly svelte at a trim 3:34 when even the 7″ edit was 4:29! This was the song that I heard on the radio in 1995 that got me turning the corner after washing my hands of Simple Minds after their aim towards the stadium. It’s a commercial rock track, certainly, but one with merit. Charlie Burchill’s guitar hook retains a power even 24 years later. Hearing it edited down to a minute less than the 7″ mix [which was already a minute less than the LP version] gave new credence to the showbiz bromide “always keep ’em wanting more.”
The title track to the new album was a treat. It was the last of three songs in the short form of the album, but we’re here with the Full Monty. Fortunately, there were three more from “Walk Between Worlds” awaiting our ears. There followed a quartet of durable Minds material that encompassed classic status for “Someone, Somewhere In Summertime” and approaching near classic for “Hypnotised” and “See The Lights.” “All The Things She Said” was one of the better songs from “Once Upon A Time,” and I’m never shocked to see it figuring in any US Minds dates I see since it was one of their Top 40 successes.
But after that song we got a real deep cut curveball with the sublime “Dolphins” dating back to “Black + White 050505;” an album that even got more than a promo release in The States. It was gratifying to hear material from this underlooked [especially in America, obviously] album given a seat right in the middle of their second set, when it was time to take the energy levels down before the Big Finish. “Dolphins” value as a pacing element in their set can’t be underestimated, and Kerr’s delivery of the somber tune was right on the money here.
Of course, following that one was the high five [especially in America] of “Don’t You [Forget About Me].” Is there a more over exposed song in the band’s quiver of tunes than that one? I have to say that I have heard over the last 35 years plenty of versions, live and studio of the crusty teen classic, but it shocked me at how adroit and understated this most overplayed and often over emoted song was on this performance. The first time I was listening to this album, I was driving down the road to our home and I pulled in the driveway and parked my car just as Jim Kerr was leading the audience in a sing-along near the end of this one and by jingo, I was actually enjoying it. I didn’t want to turn the engine off [although I did].
Yes, you heard that right. This isn’t a fantasy or imaginary story! Kerr sounded robust and committed here on the one song he has license to coast through in every one of its 1766…1767… performances. He gave the audience plenty of unencroached space to sing their hearts out on their teenaged favorite fave rave tune by by singing only the first of several “la-las” and letting them have their fun. The audience sounded committed as well, and the whole thing was confined just to this side of good taste in terms of the time spent here. This was actually 6:00 reasonably tight minutes with this song; the best performance [audience and otherwise] that I have ever heard of it. And brother, I have heard way too many live recordings of this one. Eleven minute monstrosities that would count as torture on the UN scale of such things. Well, this was not one of those. And there was not even a single “Let Me See Your Hands®!”
It speaks volumes that following their megasmash chart-topping single that the final song of their set was the ever awe-inspiring “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84].” How delightful that this song is now seen as the one to cap a show off with. One of their most beguiling songs ever. When I saw the band in Atlanta a few weeks prior to this show, I was moved by what I thought was the best performance of the song I’d ever heard live; on disc or otherwise.
What I liked about it was the sense that Kerr was singing in a lower register for the first time I had ever heard live. Usually, his live vocal is an ocatave or two up from the deep baritone on the album version which is to me, the emotional key to the song. Another factor that made the Atlanta performance best of breed was also down to Sarah Brown playing the crucial cowbell that gave the motorik beat that kick that made it work like a fiend. Well, this performance/mix didn’t go there. Kerr was singing higher than I remembered Atlanta, and Gavin Goldberg had mixed the cowbell almost out of the song. Sigh. So this recording is like all of the other live versions of the song I’ve heard. Shy of the perfection to be found in the album version.
And then it was time for the encore. We all know what that meant: “Alive + Kicking” [#2 US] and “Sanctify Yourself” [#14 US]. Fortunately, the band like to throw in a [slight] curve ball in that kind of encore, so the great title track to the “Once Upon A Time” album [the best song on offer there, really] got delivered as well. I have to say that I actually enjoy that one live.
Next: …The Reason To Buy This Version Of The Album