It was 36 years since the release of Once Upon A Time yesterday. I find it an anniversary that usually passes me by without any fanfare. Unlike April for Life In A Day. Or November for Real To Real Cacophony. Or even my birthday for Big Music (seemingly deemed to be early November these days as its release but I received my pre-ordered copy on my birthday in 2014).
But especially in September when we get the run of anniversaries just a day apart – Empires And Dance, Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call and New Gold Dream.
This is starting to sound like I am big on anniversaries and know them all….but I don’t. Once Upon A Time is a case in point. It slips my mind every year. Probably because of the time of year it happens. Ten days before my birthday. I’m usually preoccupied with that.
In 1985 I got the album for my birthday…I think. It might have been for Christmas….I have an appalling memory! I know I wanted it though and I did receive a copy of it for either of these occasions. It was the first Simple Minds piece of music I had ever owned. It SHOULD mean more to me! I SHOULD remember the date. There SHOULD be some significance to it, but alas….
Why? Why is that? Honestly? I think I have just grown weary of it. Which is sad. I feel sad that I feel like this. I didn’t feel this way about OUAT in 2014. But the whole Simple Minds back catalogue was so new to me then. I felt a nostalgia and a reverence for the album then.
Move forward to 2021 and I can’t even play the album these days. Or more, I have little interest in playing it. Unlike with Real To Real, EAD, SAF/SFC and NGD – all of whose songs I never tire of. I just can’t bring myself to listen to Once Upon A Time.
It kind of scares me how tired of Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, All The Things She Said, and even the title track Once Upon A Time I have become. To a lesser degree it affects Ghostdancing and Oh Jungleland. I Wish You Were Here has been played minimally enough not to be too affected. And when I played the album back in the day I would always skip Come A Long Way anyway, so that’s pretty unaffected too. And I have grown to appreciate the song in recent years.
I rarely talk in the negative like this about Simple Minds. Well…I try very hard not to talk in negatives, anyway. (We are the “meek and unambitious” and we shall not have our voices heard!) But…I do feel mournful that I have grown so weary of OUAT – for without it, I may never have become a Simple Minds fan at all! Either the fairweather fan I had been since the day of its release up until the summer of 2014 – or from that point on until the present day in fervent fandom.
I hope my love returns. I hope with enough of a break, and the passage of time, I will feel able to listen to it once more. It might depend on certain changes to the live setlist though – or my not going to any more Simple Minds gigs. Or fewer of them. I don’t know.
As soon as I had posted my piece about the “Seven Year Itch” and not really listening to them at all much, it turned it around and I was listening to them again. Maybe just posting and the airing of this will have me listening to OUAT again?
Announced last night, Simple Minds are to play at the Musilac Festival at Aix-Les-Bains in 2022. They play on Friday, July 8th.
I have already been contemplating it and already been looking tentatively at flights to the nearest European destinations. Grenoble would be ssoooo handy – but Easyjet only fly there from Edinburgh in the winter months. Next handy is Lyon, with flights from Edinburgh to Lyon (no flights to/from Lyon from Glasgow) twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. So it would be fly in on Wednesday, leave on Saturday. Okay, fair enough. Means I’m there two days early. Not bad. And perhaps getting to Aix from Lyon would be easier than travelling from Geneva?
Geneva is the best option for flights. Flights are daily between Edinburgh and Geneva – but then there are two coaches to take to get to Aix from there. One to Chambery, then from there to Aix. It was a long day’s travel! I didn’t get into Aix the last time until about 7pm I think it was. Or maybe 7.30? But it’s summer and there’s plenty of daylight.
It seems to be a quicker, more straightforward journey from Lyon to Aix.
From what I can see so far of the line-up, it’s not exactly the killer lineup it was the last time I went. Not only were SM on the bill but so was Depeche Mode and The Stranglers! This time I see Sum 41 and Dropkick Murphys on the bill with. Neither band is one I am into and I am only vaguely familiar with Sum 41. I know one song of theirs but I can’t even remember what it’s called….
Are Simple Minds the headline act? Probably not. Why have they been put on the bill with these two bands? Where the hell is the connection? The day before Skunk Anansie are on the bill. I wish SM and SA were on the bill the same day!
And I have no idea if my friend Françoise would be going again.
As much as I am sitting here mulling all this over, contemplating it, the less inclined I am to seriously consider it. Too much to weigh up. The logistics. The cost. Accommodation. The festival bill.
It is a fantastically organised festival. I had a great time – all things considered. Aix-Les-Bain is a lovely place. And if I got to spend time with Françoise again, that would be lovely. And…it’s the day before Jim’s birthday. I could kid myself I get to spend his birthday (almost) with him. Sad fucker that I am!
I’ll keep an eye out on the Musilac site, social media, etc, to see who else ends up on Friday’s bill. I’m interested….but…we’ll see.
I think this documentary ended up posing more questions than it answered.
Firstly, it doesn’t sugarcoat the notion of Lou Reed being….well…actually perhaps they DO sugarcoat it. Because what became obvious was that to label Reed “troubled” is somewhat of an understatement. I actually started to wonder how anyone managed to work with him. Certainly John Cale was finding it difficult towards the end of his part in the Velvet Underground story “if you were nice to him, he only treated you worse”.
The one thing I’d say to Jim after seeing this film is when you say you’re not worthy of tying Lou Reed’s bootlaces – you do yourself a MASSIVE disservice, Jim Kerr. You really do!
The film starts with a quote from Baudelaire – “Music fathoms the sky.” That immediately had me thinking of Jim for in the New Gold Dream tour program, he’s given the name “Kid Baudelaire” in brackets. Attributed from Adam Sweeting? A nickname the rest of the guys give him? Who knows?
A Warhol film image of Lou Reed appears fairly early on. Just that straight-at-the-lens, nowhere-to-hide portrait shot, the camera rolling for several minutes. A childhood that didn’t sound overly loving, but they talk to his sister Merrill and she makes the counter argument of it being easy to pin all of Lou’s troubles on his childhood and upbringing.
Several minutes later we move on to a similar half of the screen moving image portrait of John Cale. This is how little I admit to knowing about The Velvet Underground and its individual members – I hear John Cale speak and….he sounds like he usually sounds….with a New York twang. And then, he speaks again and sounds WELSH! Like, a proper Valley boy-o!
I know! I should know better than this. I should be more knowledgeable. A lot of the time I do feel incredibly ignorant about a lot of things.
A lot of the film centred towards PRE-VU. Lou and John and how they got into music the way they did, their influences, and how they met and formed The Primitives.
All of that I found good. Sterling Morrison remains a mystery. Moe Tucker seems a very lovely woman. Doug Yule seemed a very fitting replacement for John Cale.
It flowed well up to the point we got to when Warhol became involved and Nico joined the group. Then, for me, the documentary became a bit…rushed. It spent a lot of time on the preamble but then not much time on the Velvet Underground itself, once a modicum of success came.
Also, whenever they played Venus In Furs, it was DEAFENING! Venus In Furs was ssooo much louder than anything else within the audio, other Velvet songs, people speaking, etc, etc. It was a real wallop to the ears.
I kind of came away a bit…unfulfilled by the experience. I wanted more and something different. I probably wanted to learn more about Lou Reed than I did. I certainly wanted to learn more about the band than I felt I did.
What I did learn though (or had confirmed to me) is:
The Velvet Underground are definitely punk. They are the TRUE pioneers of punk. Forget the “avant garde” schtick, although that does apply too. They’re punk.
John Cale is Welsh (I know! Lol).
Lou Reed was a douche canoe (at least at that time) and I honestly don’t know how anyone worked with him.
Delmore Schwartz was a massive influence on Reed.
Jonathan Richman is a sweetheart, and just about the only person to say something nice about Lou. And it explained why The Modern Lovers’ Roadrunner is ssooo much like Rock ‘n’ Roll to me. (Though it is meant to be a homage to Sister Ray – shows you how familiar I am with Sister Ray!)
Nico was a drifter. Lost, trying to find purpose in her life.
Warhol gave us “celebrity” and fame for fame’s sake. He’d love Love Island and Big Brother, and probably Gogglebox too.
Without Warhol no one outside of NYC would have heard of VU.
So, last night, in bed. Wanting to listen to some music to help me drift off to sleep, did I choose the “Banana Album”? Or White Light/White Heat? Or The Velvet Underground (aka album three)? Or Loaded?
I chose to listen to The Modern Lovers – the original set of recordings from 1972 that were finally released in 1976.
And to paraphrase words from Roadrunner “I’m in love with Jonathan Richman”. We could all do with keeping that childlike wonder. Oh, man. Even in the documentary – you just want to reach in through the screen and hug him!
In summary of the Velvet Underground documentary. Did I enjoy it? To a degree. Did I find it insightful? Again, to a degree. Did I enjoy it as much as the previous music documentary I saw (The Sparks Brothers)? Naw.
If I was to give it a mark out of 10 – where the Sparks Brothers doc gets a firm 10/10. The Velvet Underground documentary gets a 7/10. The best bits were the interviews with John Cale, Moe Tucker, Jonathan Richman and Mary Woronov.
It wasn’t quite what I had hoped for or anticipated. For one I didn’t expect to come out of a Velvet Underground documentary thinking “Aawww, Jonathan Richman – he’s sssooo sweet!” Lol
Can I recommend it? I guess. If you’re a REAL diehard Velvets fan, it probably isn’t going to give you much more of an insight in all honesty. Novices interested in the band and the period and wanting to know more…you might learn some stuff, but for me personally, it didn’t completely fill the remit.
And so, I shall leave you with this, influence of an influence that leads to an influence. And I love a fade-in!
I have been back listening to a random shuffle mode playlist of Minds songs over the past couple of nights. Perhaps my “Seven Year Itch” has been quelled?
Sometimes I get distracted. My thoughts wander. As I am so familiar with some of the tunes, and this will sound awful – but….you can “zone out”, if you know what I mean? Definitely not confined to Simple Minds songs! Mostly they just insight a thought or a memory and the mind wanders off in thought.
As it did last night.
I admit to not being the biggest fan of the album Cry. I find it hit and miss. Many fans see it as the first “return to form”, yet bizarrely for me, I see it more as the dip … almost like they are trying too hard to get back to fluid creativity. It feels … forced. Which makes sense, given where we are in the Simple Minds timeline. For me, the next album (Black And white 050505) is the “return to form” that exponentially builds up to Walk Between Worlds.
As for the Cry album, there are exceptions – I ADORE Spaceface. It is my “go to” happy song. That should have been my “drugs song” choice for Billy’s show last weekend. I’m sure Jim would say it actually isn’t about drugs…but the lines within “she don’t need no rocket ship / just close(s) her eyes and takes a trip / baby’s big on aviation / baby loves a levitation” and the chorus, “she’s a spaceface floating round / she’s never coming down” NEVER COMING DOWN (ie: she’s as high as the proverbial kite, man)
Spaceface makes ME “high”. It’s awesome.
The other song on the album I have grown to love is Disconnected.
So, last night it plays and I am listening to the words, thinking “everybody needs to feel respected / not disconnected” – I wish! I do wish…Mr Kerr. “I don’t wanna hear the sound of your wide world when it comes crashing down” – okay then. Block your ears, Kerr! “I can only help you if you’re sure you wanna keep me hanging round” DUH!!!!! Like you have to ask, boy-o!
And then I start thinking … this is all a bit of a contradiction, isn’t it? “Everybody needs to feel respected” – but then “I don’t wanna hear the sound of your wide world when it comes crashing down”…??? What happened to “Everybody needs to feel respected”????
I ended up thinking about it quite philosophically in the end. And came away from it feeling like the “Everybody needs to feel respected / not disconnected” line was a MASSIVE oxymoron compared to the rest of the lyrics.
I guess I’m not meant to take them LITERALLY – us overthinkers tend to do that kind of shit, eh? We’re a bit of a drain and a drag like that.
So…the only line I feel I can take from it is “Only in my dreams I feel protected / this is reflected in all that I believe” – not even sure I can take the second part of the line – just that first bit. And when I talk of “dreams”, I think I mean the word very differently to how Jim interprets it and uses it. Dreams are on a par with ambitions for him, I think. Whereas for me? Dreams are “pie in the sky” wishes that will never come to fruition – or those actual “nocturnal visions” that happen to many of us somewhere, some time in our lives (as I appreciate that not everyone believes they dream, or feels they have dreams…as in actual visions during sleep).
Would I be “respected” for my own definition of dreams, I wonder?
I am still pondering the “meek and unambitious” post as well. That left a mark. I felt the same things happening when listening to Disconnected, as the feelings that happened with the “Ambition” post.
Ambition isn’t a dirty word. And I fully understand why the word “ruthless” is placed with it. To be “unambitious” may indeed be “unsavoury” – but it is usually, as far as I see it…a side effect of ill mental health. I don’t know anyone who sets out to be DELIBERATELY “unambitious” …. but hey ho. What do I know? I’m not a psychiatrist.
Anyway, this is getting overly-philosophical for a MMM post. Let’s just enjoy Disconnected.
Want something SPOOKY to get your teeth into for Halloween? Then may I suggest the Battersea Poltergeist?
I have spent the past week freaking myself out listening to this podcast at night…in bed…in the dark. Literally shitting myself! Lol. It is really creepy – well I found it creepy. The story centres around a house on number 63 Wycliffe Road, Clapham, home of the Hitchings family. It’s the winter of 1956. Strange things are happening and they seem to centre on 15 year old Shirley, daughter of Wally and Kitty Hitchings. Are the family being haunted by a poltergeist? You can listen HERE
Another podcast I listened to before that was the sad and harrowing story of missing 6 year old Mary Boyle. She disappeared when walking back to her grandparents house in Donegal in 1977. She has never been found. Over the past 44 years suspicion and accusations abound, leading to family relationship breakdowns. The podcast is called No Body Recovered. And you can listen to it by clicking the link HERE
The latest one I have started just last night is called Limelight: The House That Vanished. It’s the story of Neville Presho and his family. After starting a new life in New Zealand, Neville and his wife Fiona decide to return to Ireland with their young family to the remote island of Tory, located nine miles of the north coast of Ireland, off the coast of Donegal. When he moved to New Zealand, Neville left a house on the island, but when he returns to the island to live there with his family, his house is gone! Where did it go? How does a whole house just disappear without anyone on the island seemingly noticing or caring? The link to this podcast is HERE
Ghost Dancer (aka Stuart Greaves) has shared another gem of a bootleg, this time of SM some seven months into the New Gold Dream tour of ‘82/‘83 – midway through the North American leg of the tour in April/May of 1983.
Playing the Ritchie’s Club in New Orleans, Louisiana. Recorded by a member of the crowd – hearing audible bits like the guy telling the girl next to him to stop talking to him as he’s recording the show. Lol (You tell her, pal!) The recording is a good one coming from the crowd as it does. Some people obviously managed to sneak in some great recording equipment to these gigs. Mates who were working as road crew on the night or some such? No idea how they did it, but kudos for doing so.
As for the band themselves and the gig? Well, as you’d expect by now, we hear all of the New Gold Dream album (Somebody Up There Likes You as their walk-on intro music), plus stonking versions of I travel, Celebrate, The American and Love Song. There’s a little of the set lost (changing the tape over in the recorder, I’m guessing?) where the ending of Hunter And The Hunted cuts off and we return about a third of the way through Promised You A Miracle.
It feels as though Jim is going through the motions a little bit at times. He wavers a little, especially towards to tail end of the set. There’s a bit of banter that happens. I’m guessing fans are asking for certain songs to be played. At one point Jim says “Naw. It’s too old.” But usually it is just “Thank you.” And an intro of the next song. I guess I am odd to miss that Jim, right? The one who never seemed overly engaging with the crowd? I guess I miss …. the intensity. Can one miss what they never truly experienced? I do love the ease of engaging “older statesman” Jim now though. He knows how to get the fans in a frenzy still, just with less “whirling dervish” manoeuvres and brooding frontman intensity and more “banter” and acknowledgement of the crowd.
Having said all that…if that was young Jim on an “off night”…imagine him when he was fully up for it?! ERMAGERRRRRD! I’d say he was 70/30 that night. 70 on, 30 off. Or there abouts.
Anyway, it is definitely a gig I’d listen to again.
Last night’s gig for me was as highly anticipated as the Scritti Politti gig was just a couple of weeks back. It has been somewhat of a slow burn in relative terms, my love for Field Music. Meandering through other channels. Initially coming via getting into Warm Digits – whom I first got to be aware of by listening to Paul Smith from Maximo Park presenting a show on BBC 6 Music about bands and music from the North East of England (Newcastle, Sunderland, and the general vicinity). He played a track from Warm Digits on the show and I immediately sought them out and have been a solid fan ever since. I don’t remember him playing any Field Music on that same show, but I’m sure he must have done. Anyway, as a consequence of my love for Warm Digits, my love has also grown for Field Music, solidified further by seeing them perform the whole of the Making A New World album at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in January 2020. (Ah, pre-Covid days! Remember those?)
I have been suffering from a gammy knee for about the past week or so. I honestly don’t know what’s brought it on but my right knee feels in a constant state of dislocation. Like it just wants to crack back into place all the time. And if I try and walk at any kind of pace when it feels like this, my leg feels like it is going to buckle from under me from the knee down. It righted itself a couple of days ago, only for me to stretch my leg out in bed on Wednesday night for it to go out of alignment again. Friday’s forecast had been looking iffy for most of the week, but by midday yesterday it seemed as though from around 5pm onwards the skies would be relatively clear and dry so I decided to get the train in and walk to St Luke’s from Queen Street. BAD IDEA! Just as we (the OH accompanied me into the city) got into Gallowgate, my knee gave an almighty crack and went from under me. Determined not to miss the gig, I hobbled past the Morrisons, precariously crossed the road and made it around the corner to Bain Street where I sat my butt down on one of the stone blocks outside St Luke’s.
Despite my pain and worry that I’d round the corner and already see a queue as long as your arm outside, I was about the first person to be queuing up. Only one other couple were outside, seated on one of the other stone blocks. Doors were opening at 7pm and it was already 6.35pm. Something made me double check with one of the security personnel at the door what the time the gig was due to finish. I took just a cursory glance at the relevant info for the gig posted by the promoters earlier in the afternoon and something had me recalling that it said “Finish: 10pm” – I had booked a cab to collect me at 11pm – thinking the gig would end between 10.30-10.45 as most gigs do. The security guy confirmed that the gig was ending at 10pm so I called the cab firm and altered my collection time to 10.15.
I got myself positioned front and centre once the doors were open, thankful to be at the barrier so I could at least stand on my dodgy leg without too much discomfort. Sadly the support act had to pull out of the gig earlier in the day. I was really looking forward to seeing Galaxians who I have also had exposure to from them being label mates of both Warm Digits and Field Music. I recommend you check out the talent Memphis Industries have on their excellent label. Galaxians had suffered a broken down van the night before in Aberdeen and then yesterday their drummer was experiencing Covid symptoms so they had to pull out of the Glasgow gig.
UPDATE: Drummer Matt has tested positive for Covid, so the rest of their tour is postponed. Sad news. I hope Matt has only a mild case and will be fully recovered soon.
At short notice local act, Raveloe, stepped in. Kim Grant played a solo set last night. Usually accompanied by a drummer and bassist, I’m guessing that at such short notice she had to play solo. I enjoyed her set. She has a lovely voice. She finished the set with the band’s latest single New House.
Some dismantling and resetting of mics, some tuning of guitars, etc and it was all set for Field Music by 8.30pm. Then it was 8.35. Then 8.40 and I am starting to think “Should I have altered my taxi pick up to 10.30?”, but just before 8.45pm the band arrived on stage. The Glasgow crowd at St Luke’s always incredibly welcoming.
The set started with a track from their latest album Flat White Moon called Do Me A Favour. Next up was Disappointed, which I just love the ending of.
At this point in proceedings, I am starting to feel rather fraudulent and a horrible “fair weather” fan for although I could make out some of the tracks from Flat White Moon and I recognised Disappointed and knew Money Is A Memory from Making A New World, other tracks performed were fairly alien to me. I wasn’t alone – and Peter Brewis could feel it from the crowd too. That the crowd were largely unfamiliar with most of the material on offer. It has given me the extra impetus to continue to listen to them regularly and stop being so fair weathered!
Continuing on with the bad fan fair weathered nature, I recorded a song to share for my review and had to search through tracks to get the name of it. The song is called I’m Glad and is from their 2016 album, Commontime, the same album Disappointed appears on.
David and Peter Brewis take turns in the drum and guitar parts, alternating in lead vocal parts also as a result. They had foam muffs on their mics as a way of adding a layer of protection for when they were swapping around. David’s muff was red, Peter’s was blue. Every time they swapped over, they had to make sure they took their muffs with them.
All the swapping and retuning instruments meant that banter ensued – especially between the brothers. David initially goading Peter, having snide little digs at him, but Peter gave back as good as he got. Brotherly love, eh? I hope it was all tongue-in-cheek banter and things are all fine between the Brewis brothers. They are both such lovely guys, with a fantastic sense of humour and always wonderfully engaging with the crowd.
I have to give a special mention to Liz Corney who is absolutely fantastic with them. A great keyboardist and always so happy and in her element on the stage. She’s absolutely fab. She was like sunshine last night.
The drumming – I honestly don’t know who I love more with the drumming parts – David or Peter. David whacks the shit out of the drums, but Peter has a bit more finesse. I honestly can’t decide. They’re both so good! From what I remember of talking to them both after the Kelvingrove gig, I’m sure David told me that Peter taught him the drums. So I guess on that basis, Peter should win the battle of Brewis brothers drummers.
As much as I was saying before that I am unfamiliar with a lot of Field Music’s…music, I could tell that they performed several other tracks from Flat White Moon, including No Pressure, Meant To Be and Not When You’re In Love.
I found myself keeping an eye on the time, worried that I had booked my cab home too early. But as we got to around 9.45, Peter declares that they have just two songs in the set to go. Lots of sighs from the crowd who have been loving every tune. And rightly so! Just because the majority of us weren’t overly familiar with the material, it didn’t mean we were any less appreciative of it.
The set ended with the lead single of the Flat White Moon album – Orion From The Street, reproduced perfectly live, and where Liz truly came out to shine. Beautiful!
All the music was top class and this band is stellar live. The reason I kept on clock watching was because I didn’t want the gig to end at 10pm! I really didn’t! I’d have happily stayed on until 11pm to watch them.
But after a single song encore, the gig was over at 10pm sharp! A few minutes to try and get my now totally screwed legs working, put my mask back on and slowly shuffle on out the front doors. A short wait for 10.15pm to tick over and right on cue my taxi arrived and I was home at 10.30pm – which just blows my mind! I had only ever experienced that joy just the once in Luton when Ruts DC came to play the Hat Factory in March, 2018. It was bliss! Usually great gigs by big names meant trips to Cambridge, or London, or perhaps if you were lucky, Milton Keynes or Bedford, or St Albans, Watford or Hemel Hempstead.
Glasgow is just…such a gem! It really is. And what gigs this city gets! I love it! The only thing that would have made this night better was that there had been nothing wrong with my leg. Other than that, it was a perfect evening. I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment of it. Field Music are top notch!