wed 22/05/2024

Simple Minds and Ultravox, NIA, Birmingham | reviews, news & interviews

Simple Minds and Ultravox, NIA, Birmingham

Simple Minds and Ultravox, NIA, Birmingham

New wave heritage show flavoured with some tasty treats

Simple Minds step out of the shadows once again

Age can do interesting things to musicians who have once been regular fixtures in the media and who reappear in the public consciousness some years later. Time, it has to be said, has been kind to the two remaining members of Simple Minds’ original line-up. The band’s guitarist, Charlie Burchill, may look like Stan Smith, the star of the cartoon American Dad but he looks good with it. Jim Kerr also seems to be ageing gracefully.

In fact, he looks better than he did almost 30 years ago, having dumped the dress-sense that seemed to take pointers from Blackadder the First, with a beret.

Support band, Ultravox, on the other hand, are unrecognisable from the time of their commercial peak in the Eighties. In fact, I wasn’t sure that some session musicians hadn’t been drafted in when the band first took to the stage. Playing a hit-heavy set from their glory years, we were treated to the still magnificent “Vienna” early on. However, from that point things got less interesting as the band ploughed through guitar-heavy versions of the likes of “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes”, from 1984’s Lament, and “The Voice”, from 1981’s Rage in Eden

Simple Minds are often portrayed by journalists as having been almost two separate bands. Firstly, there were the five albums of motorik-influenced, art-rock, from 1979 to 1983. However, this was followed by a dash for cash and years of U2-esque, air-punching stadium-rock pompousness. This lasted well into the Nineties, after which the band seemed to just fade away until a recent re-evaluation in the media seemed to fire them up again.

He lassoed his microphone around his head and pointed it at the crowd

Both sides of Simple Minds were on show tonight, as the latest line-up of the band treated Birmingham to most of 1983’s New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), a magnificent album that marked the dividing line between the band’s two styles, and a smattering of gems from earlier in their career. They also presented us with some more recent delights, however, such as the cod-U2 of 1988’s “Mandela Day”.

Some 18 months ago, Simple Minds re-released their early material in its entirety, as the 5x5 box set, and then toured a show that limited itself to tunes from this period. The whole exercise met with considerable acclaim and it seems that this has influenced the present tour. From “I Travel” to “The American” and “Theme for Great Cities”, the pulsating experimentalism of these tunes was a tonic.

However, Birmingham’s crowd of predominantly 40- and 50-somethings was gagging for the stadium stuff. While most stood and stared at the stage, and even occasionally clapped along, to classics like “Love Song” from 1981’s Sons and Fascination album, what they really wanted to hear was the likes of “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” and “Sanctify Yourself”.

Towards the end of their two-hour set, the band gave them their wish and Jim Kerr threw in more than a taste of the stage-presence, learned in the stadiums of the world during the late Eighties for good measure. He lassoed his microphone around his head and pointed it at the crowd, so that they could sing some of the big choruses for him, and gave out frequent cries of “Let me see your hands in the air”. The crowd lapped it up and by the last bars of final encore, “Alive and Kicking”, there was some serious dad-dancing going on in the NIA.

Simple Minds put on an energised show this evening that trawled a broad spectrum of their Eighties and Nineties output. It just has to be hoped that they don’t take to heart the relative indifference that the audience displayed towards their best tunes and return exclusively to their stadium rock persona on their next outing.

Birmingham’s crowd of predominantly 40- and 50-somethings was gagging for the stadium stuff


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Absolute rubbish that Simple Minds fans were gagging for the stadium stuff.... the SIMPLY have to play Alive and Kicking and Don't You Forget About Me - real fans want the likes of This Fear of Gods which the writer has spectacularly failed to even mention. The reason fans stand still is because they are in awe on how good these early songs actually were and how powerful they are when played live. When you go wow, you stand still - take it all in. Dance like crazy and jump up and down to the motorik-influenced, art-rock or just simply Kraut Music influenced tracks? No - stunning lights and pumping songs, as stated most fans are in awe of four musicians actually playing this type of stuff live and it not coming from a computer. WHY the references to the looks - is not Lady Gaga sending fashion messages out there playing, its a group of musicians who are obviously ageing. Lastly - what about the electro-pop / heavy dance music instrumental version of Sweat in Bullet?? Simple Minds inventing themselves yet again. Awful review - 2 out of 10 - MUST DO BETTER

Get a job that your good at, you 're clearly not good at this one. You may also want to think about not being so ageist and insulting others. Great review if your objective was to make yourself look and idiot!

Were you at the same concert I was?! Lots of people, myself included, were singing and dancing all the way through. The concert was superb and if my memory serves me well, which at 36 I should hope it is, Jim Kerr was animated from start to finish!!

First saw Simple Minds in 86. Have been fortunate to see James, The Chilli Pepers and Simple Minds recently. Have to say that Simple Minds were as good as the others (which live are hard acts to follow) and as good as they were in 86. Reference to U2 is nonsense. Simple Minds are a far better band who aren't up their own backsides

Well I agreed with only one point and that is that time has been very good indeed to Jim and Charlie. They are both very attractive and charming men who can mesmerise and captivate their audience. Charlie does not look like Stan Smith, that comment was not at all amusing. I did chuckle a little to the Blackadder 1st with a beret comment. Well we all looked a bit different back then didn’t we and I think Jim wouldn’t mind that jibe about his 80s style too much either. The rest of the article was a bit at odds with the reality of a Simple Minds concert. I have been to many and have never been to one where the older music is not as much appreciated as the “stadium stuff”. Are you saying that Love Song, The American, Hunter and the Hunted etc do not go down an absolute storm? That’s not my opinion anyway. Simple Minds are the best live band ever and any song they play-even if it is not their own- is played to perfection to a very appreciative audience.

Cop out of a review. 1/10 for effort.

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