Simple Minds at Musilac Festival, Aix-Les-Bains – 2022

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.

Review: Field Music – St Luke’s – Glasgow – 8/10/2021

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!

New Memes – Heavy Night

Off topic for a reputed Simple Minds blog but… I think this band is just about my favourite of the young Glasgow bands about at the moment and ONE DAY I’ll brave going to see them live.

Over the past couple of years they’ve released several singles. Billy Sloan has been a champion of them and that’s how I got to hear of them initially. New single is out today called “Heavy Night”. The video is awesome as well. Who disnae like to have a wee dance around the Clyde with a paper bag over their heid? Lol

Anyway, enjoy Memes with “Heavy Night”. It’s a catchy little fucker.

She Rag Doll And Beautiful James

I was catching up with Billy Sloan’s radio show last night. I haven’t listened in for….a few months now. I think I got a bit overwhelmed by him referring to me as one of his “most loyal” listeners. And to be honest, I wasn’t at that point, though I would listen most weeks. But that statement from him – I guess it kind of put the mockers on it. I didn’t feel worthy of such a thing and then weirdly it kind of then … I dunno. Weird, eh?

Anyway, the previous week he had been asking for favourite songs that mentioned mens names in the lyrics or title. Earlier in the week when he first asked the question the song I chose hadn’t entered my head, even though it had been an earworm for days on end already. By Saturday evening, it was there swirling around as Billy posed the question again just before show time. Of course I put in my choice of “Oh, Jim”. I didn’t end up listening to the show that night. I was chatting away to a friend and ended up “otherwise engaged” but I was intrigued to see if my choice got mentioned. It did. And it seemed Billy had missed me! Bless him! I didn’t expect that at all. Well, I’ve missed him too. He puts on a great show week after week and there’s always something that particularly piques the interest – more on that shortly. 

Anyway, that’s a looong preamble to say…I am back listening to Billy Sloan’s show. I didn’t hear it go out live but caught up with it via BBC Sounds last night. The topic was … what do you think is the greatest song of all time? One choice! Mine is “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted?” by Jimmy Ruffin. It’s both sadly melancholic but ultimately uplifting. 

Around midway through the show, Billy played “River Deep, Mountain High” and it had me thinking about Jim’s post a few days back about “songs of home” and him talking about Nutbush City Limits – another Ike and Tina Turner song. As River Deep, Mountain High was playing, I am taking in the words as I usually do with the songs I listen to. I always try to pay attention to the lyrics. Not always easy as singers’ diction when they sing can vary wildly so it isn’t always easy to decipher lyrics. Hence the long litany of misheard lyrics. Lol. Nothing wrong with Tina’s diction though. I was taking in the lines “when you were a young boy did you have a puppy?” and then my brain backtracked and was thinking about the first lines of “when I was a little girl I had a rag doll” and “I love you just the way I loved that rag doll” and started thinking… “Hang about? Is THIS the genesis for ‘she rag doll’ in Celebrate?”

I have been in recent times debating this line (one could deem it a “mass debate”, perhaps? Though no…not between just two people it ain’t. Lol) with a friend of mine about the true meaning of that “she rag doll” line. Rather unusually for me, I interpreted rather “innocently” – my version of innocent anyway. More a kind of “canoodling” way….a bit kind of “post-coital spooning” kind of way. My friend informed me that a “rag doll” can be seen much more sexualised than that even. I never considered it to have such potency. I found it potent enough with my interpretation of it to be honest. And if one ponders the lyrics further then “she rag doll, keeps him warm / but this negative shows no form” – then I guess a “rag doll” in its most sexualised sense would NOT show any true form on a negative. My word! 

Either way, it’s damn sexy! And it is why I love Celebrate so much. Celebrate, when you get down to the heart of it, is a kind of love song. Well, maybe not a LOVE song – but a song of desire. The desire for lust and life. “A lust for life.” And it’s certainly uplifting. That “dark light” of theirs. Of Jim’s lyrics. Give it a dark heart but make it ultimately “feel good”. God, he’s good at it!

Anyway, River Deep Mountain High seems like the most innocent thing in the world now compared to Celebrate! Lol

Also on Billy’s show, he played this – the new Placebo single. It immediately piqued my interest before it even played as Billy said the title of it is “Beautiful James”. And what a chorus! “Beautiful James / I don’t wanna wake you” – how goddamn beautiful is that?! That’s me right there picturing Jim sleeping and just enjoying the sheer beauty of it. Gorgeous. Just so we end on a rather more innocent note than we could have done on the dirty ditty of Celebrate.

Review: Scritti Politti + Alexis Taylor – St Luke’s – Glasgow – 27/09/2021

The last gig I went to prior to this was March 10th, 2020. The “two gigs in one night” show of Simple Minds at Store Vega in Copenhagen. My last gig SHOULD have been two days later seeing King Creosote at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on March 12th but the return flight home from Copenhagen ended up so delayed I missed the gig. And my first gig back SHOULD have been John Grant on September 9th at Barrowland Ballroom, but I was attending the gig alone and was too anxious about it to attend.

So…it has been a long time between gigs! Esp. for me as I am these days as I now attend gigs on a fairly regular basis.

I was still very anxious about last night. All through the day I was wondering if I should be going and questioning whether I even WANTED to go! Speaking of weather – I love Glasgow but fuck me! The weather is ssoooo unpredictable here! I was worried that we’d get pissed upon getting there, so we booked a cab mid afternoon, only for it to be basking in sunshine when the driver collected us at around 5.40pm. We were at St Luke’s 10 minutes later.

There was going to be a bit of a wait. The doors weren’t opening until 7pm. Thankfully the weather stayed dry for the queue outside. But dry also tends to mean flipping cold at this time of year. I wanted to travel as light as possible, so I had no big coat with me to keep me warm. I was freezing! 

Once the doors opened, we got in fairly quickly. It was a bit of clamour to get in. A loose queue had formed outside and we were fourth (and fifth) in the queue, but were third (and fourth) to be let in as the guy ahead of us was refused entry for not having a mask. He had his vaccine passport with him – but “no mask, no entry” was also the policy. So he had to go off and buy one to be allowed entry later on. 

It was a bit of a wait before support act Alexis Taylor started his set. I wasn’t sure of set timings and I don’t think Alexis started his set until 8.15pm, allowing enough time for the checks at the door to be done and for the punters to gain entry. He played the set either completely solo or with fellow Hot Chip (and Scritti Politti) band member Robert Smoughton (aka Grovesnor). It was a short set but very good. Taylor has a great voice and a really nice style of guitar playing. A nice mix of synths and Mellotron played through the tracks as well. He complimented what was to come with the SP set very well.

A short reset of the stage setup and then the main affair were on shortly after 9pm. 

The crowd were very receptive as Green and Co hit the stage. This gig had been hotly anticipated by all who came to see it. 

We started things off with a little rusty but by no means unenjoyable rendition of The Sweetest Girl. Several other hits and SP faves were performed in the lead up to the main event – the playing of the whole of Cupid And Psyche 85. A fabulous rendition of “Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy)”, also great versions of Day Late And A Dollar Short and Skank Bloc Bologna as well as my favourites from the pre-Cupid And Psyche set – The Boom Boom Bap and Trentavious White.

Then with a call of “Are we ready? Right, let’s go” from Green…in comes The Word Girl. At the end of the song…well, the place was in raptures. Before that, even. The Glasgow crowd don’t disappoint in terms of getting behind people they love. And Green was certainly feeling the love last night. I think he was quite overwhelmed by the reception he was getting.

You can always feel how much of a very scary thing it is for him to be up there on that stage still. But he’s so deflective and self-effacing with it. He is such a sweet man and such an incredible performer, you cannae help but be swept by the emotion of it. But all in a very positive way. The music is so funky and uplifting and joyous and there was just such a buzz in the crowd and so much positivity around.

And on and on we went through the rest of the album. Fabulous versions of Absolute (see snippet above) and Perfect Way. The cheers and gratitude displayed by the crowd just built and built after each song.

Then comes Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) and you can’t help but be gobsmacked by how incredibly like the album version they get it. Green’s voice is … magic. There’s no other superlative for it! The man is 66 years old! For one, he doesn’t LOOK 66 – he’s aged incredibly well – but also vocally, to have that voice. To be able to replicate your voice on record from nearly 40 years ago is nothing short of astounding! 

The crowd were singing along to Wood Beez – I’ll give it to the Glaswegians, they can hold a tune when it comes to crowd singing. It was quite beautiful really. That same crowd went MENTAL at the end of Wood Beez. They…WE…(I was in the crowd too, duh!) were sssooo appreciative of hearing it and the way it was performed.

Final track of the night was Hypnotize and Green was sounding like he could sing all night. 

The crowd gave a final incredible round of applause and appreciation to Green Gartside, Rhodri Marsden, Dicky Moore and Robert Smoughton for a great performance.

Just a few minutes of waiting. A begging crowd asking for more received a single song encore. Alexis Taylor joined the band on stage. I had my suspicions and hopes for what was about to happen – and I wasn’t disappointed. As soon as Green started his intro of it with “The song we’re going to do was originally recorded by Chic”, I knew what was coming and grabbed my phone out from its holder. I had rued not recording this when seeing Green Gartside and Alexis Taylor at Bedford Esquires back in 2017, so I was NOT going to miss it this time. It was beautiful the last time and it was just as beautiful this time. At Last I Am Free – true to Robert Wyatt’s rendition of it. Stunning!

Any negatives to report from the night? Only slight niggles. A bit of reverb that could have been sorted better. The guitars were maybe a little too low in the mix. Green’s vocal also a little too lost in the mix sometimes. Some stupid c***s deciding to have a natter midway through Alexis Taylor’s set. Grrr! And another short chat during the main Scritti Politti set – which is just fucking outrageous! But honestly…minor bugbears – nothing to take away the overall enjoyment of the gig.

For all the anxiety I was feeling prior to the gig, I am so thankful I pushed myself to go and get out there and enjoy it, because it was wonderful. I could not have wished for a better gig to return to.

*Crappy sound quality of clips is down to my crappy phone. Records great video but shit sound with it unfortunately.

Crowd photo curtesy of Rhodri Marsden. I’m on the left.