Turn Up The Funk – Warm Digits: Flight Of Ideas – Album Review

The follow up to 2017’s Wireless World sees the Newcastle duo expand on the lyrics and guest vocalists and they take the funk up a notch too! A fantastic trip into the topical point of how not every idea we have is the right idea and should be executed blindingly.

Following is my track-by-track thoughts on the new album.

Track one – Frames And Cages: Bang up-to-date but with undertones of Eastern mysticism and the soft wave of the signature Warm Digits sound. Pulsing rhythms through it. Love the ending. A strong album opener.

Track two – Feel The Panic (feat. The Lovely Eggs): First time I listened to it I felt it should have been the lead single, just my opinion. Great catchy lyrics. “Are you infallible? Or just gullible?” Andy’s drumming is a highlight on this. Great guitar licks from Steve as well. They bring out such a big sound for a duo. This track could currently not be any more topical!

Track three – The View From Nowhere (feat. Emma Pollock): A bit more of a laidback groove from the guys this track. Again, great lyrics. Great guitar licks from Steve.

Track four – I’m Okay, You’re Okay: The melody! I love this track. I actually find it very emotional. It’s reminiscent of something off Autobahn for me – just….the emotional impact of it. Gorgeous electronica. But also very organic. A very signature Warm Digits track for me.

Track five – Fools Tomorrow (feat. Paul Smith): Wow! What a track! The funk weaving through and Paul Smith’s voice works ssooo well with the sound. And the beat break around the three minute mark in the song? Divine! Again, tracks on this album are becoming incredibly topical.

Track six – Replication: Again, the melody that starts the track just pulls you in and then Andy drums like an animal. Great bass work and then manic but gorgeous waves of melody and riffs. Something pentatonic with the beat at times. Then another gorgeous beat break around the three minute mark. The bass on this is sublime!

Track seven – Shake The Wheels Off (feat. The Orielles): More funk coming along, but perhaps toned down a little compared to others. Great electronics on it and fab hooks and riffs going on in it. Again very catchy. “A real bone-shaker”, as the song says.

Track eight – Everyone Nervous (feat. Rozi Plain): Beautiful electronics and Andy’s drumming on it is fab. Great guitar reverbs towards the end of the track as well. Rozi Plain’s voice is so wonderful emotive. I find this a wonderfully soft and emotional piece. It actually gives me those goosebump chills of electricity when I play it.

Track nine – False Positive: TURN UP THE FUNK! Wow! Was blown away by this when they performed it at St Luke’s in Glasgow back in February. Great synth melody over the top too. Something you can really just funk out to. Might actually be my fave track on the whole album. If not then…it’s really up there!

Track ten – Flight Of Ideas: These guys really are the modern masters of the looped groove for me. I just love absolutely everything they produce. And – hidden singing sensation on the track – the one and only Steve Jefferis!

A cohesive collection of songs. A maturing of sound, I feel. A little less emphasis on the more motorik sound they had. They have certainly increased the funk ratio and the influences of the electronica that the band originally sprouted from has returned somewhat, but also matured.

Standout tracks for me are: Fools Tomorrow, Replication, Everyone Nervous and False Positive.

A very solid 4.5 stars out of five.

Flight Of Ideas is released on April 3rd, 2020, on the Memphis Industries label and can be pre-ordered online at the Warm Digits store. Click the LINK HERE for details.

Missing Inaction?

A deliberate ‘typo’ on my part, that title…

Most fans are talking about dates and wanting news…or if they’re not, they’re going on about how they miss how the band “really were”… “back then” when they (the fans, that is) were teens. Some are reminiscing about Street Fighting Years, which is all well and good too. We are all looking for ways to occupy ourselves in these uncertain times.

But…the thing I miss…the thing I crave? JIM INTERACTING WITH US!

Maybe there is a cycle or a pattern that…because I am a relative “babe” in terms of Simple Minds fandom, I have yet to see, witness or experience? We’ve pretty much had an online presence and rapport (I say ‘we’ve’ to imply SM fans in general) with the band for 20 years now.

And I fully appreciate that this makes me sound like one of those “when the band were REALLY good” hark-back-to-days-gone-by types. But it just used to feel – until very recently – that he actually LIKED to interact with us. It didn’t come across as a burden or an obligation, or part of the “keep ‘em sweet” machinations of management or some such. He appeared genuinely keen to interact.

Perhaps we have bored him? Or we no longer serve a purpose?

He did give full warning of his intentions in that “my lips are sealed” post on SMO back in June last year. Well, not so much of intent to stop as such, but it was a telling thing that it was all about the social interactivity and his posting on social media.

And what about these posts that I’ve published so regularly over the years. Why do it? What is the point, if any, outside of promoting, and informing the ongoing actions of SM? And will I continue to do so as frequently in future? I’m not sure what the answer to all of that is?

Jim Kerr on Simple Minds Official Facebook page, June 21st, 2019

I dunno. I have nothing else to say. The posts are there…you know. They still happen. But not as much as before. But…the thing that remains missing, the thing that is gone is him responding to us. Replying with retorts and quips and fun little things. And sometimes with a nice meaty reply, responding to a question someone had asked, etc. And he’d give a wonderfully detailed response sometimes. And those would be amazing.

That was one thing I was really looking forward to with the Soundcheck in Copenhagen. There was meant to be a Q and A as well in which you could put forward questions. And yes! I put a question forward and if you know me at all, you’ll be able to guess it (and no, it was NOT “Jim, will you marry/shag me”! Lol. For I already know the definitive answer to that one!). Again, I am not overly upset or downhearted about that. I am just so thankful for seeing those two shows.

Am I upset about missing other shows this year? To a degree. But I understand the circumstances. I appreciate what’s going on and I think it is right that we should curb the mass gatherings for now to try and stem the rate of infection around the world.

But the thing I miss…the one thing I miss and long for above all else right now is…feeling like I…we…could talk to Jim. And already in the safest way possible…online…no passing on any germs. That…rapport…there was a reciprocation that was implied and felt. And because it is gone it feels like he just…hates me. And so I keep questioning it. “What the hell did I do to upset him?” I just end up projecting it all inwardly. Like it’s all my fault that all this interactivity seems to have died down and gone away.

Perhaps all that is needed is time?

Arty Facts…

Just been trying to keep myself entertained while being bailed up at home. Been doing bits every day.

Jim. Charlie. Now Ged. I’d like to think I have good enough photos to make a piece for every member of the band, but think I’ll struggle for Berenice and Cherisse. They’re just too far back from the front of the stage. And the two times Berenice performed Speed Your Love To Me – I just wanted to enjoy the performance and kept my phone firmly in my handbag.

I’ll see what I can come up with in the next few days.

Minds Music Monday – All Tomorrow’s Parties

Some felt the need to diss the man and wonder what his purpose is in the band when someone shared a pictured of Gordy Goudie on SMOG. If you don’t see his purpose, more fool you!

He was partly responsible for THIS, for one. And Jim’s voice on this is just beautiful. I love the way he sings it…the nuances in his voice. How he accentuates certain words. I do think I fall more and more in love with this man (Jim) every day. (And he probably despises me more and more. Ho hum.)

But, back to my main point… Gordy! You the man!

Copenhagen Bonus – Setlist And Charlie Burchill Plectrum

After show two I hung around the stage to see if a setlist might be on offer. After about 10 minutes I decided to give up. But before leaving the venue I thought “I’ll go over to GG and say goodnight.”
“How was it?”, he asked. “Amazing!”, I said. “Did you get to see both shows?” “Yes.”
“Ah!”, he says “wait”, and opens a drawer and hands me a setlist “I put this aside for you.” How lovely was that?!
Thank you, GG! You are a gentleman ❤️

But that wasn’t the only lovely thing to happen! Just before that…as the show ended, Charlie was handing out plectrums and although I was near, I missed out. After he walked off stage, there was a tap on my shoulder. A lady behind me handed me one. She showed me that she had two of them and offered one to me. So, so lovely! I thanked her profusely.

Two gifts from the most extraordinary night.

Copenhagen was “Wonderful, wonderful”….
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Simple Minds -Vega, Copenhagen: 7pm & 10pm – 10/03/2020

With the escalating cases of Covid-19 and the Danish government advising the curbing of public gatherings of 1000+ people, it was looking unlikely that the Simple Minds gig in Copenhagen was going to go ahead.

It was a concern to travel already. Both of us were well but who knows what others were like and if they were travelling responsibly? We contemplated not travelling at all if the SM gigs were in doubt.

We decided … why not? We may not get to travel for some time after this. Neither of us had ever been to Copenhagen. And it had been a VERY long time since we’d been overseas together (last time was a trip back to Oz in 2002 – the year I had whooping cough!)

To get round the restrictions on public gatherings, it was touted that the Minds do two shows. It would be amazing if they did, but I didn’t hold my hopes up. Two 25 song sets in one night? They’d all be frigging knackered to fuck!

Then there was official word. Yes – Simple Minds would perform TWO SHOWS IN ONE NIGHT for the Danes in Copenhagen. One show at 7pm and one at 10pm. To achieve this, the soundcheck and VIP fan experiences were called off. Damn!

As it happened, I had two tickets for the show. I originally bought myself a regular standing ticket. But then a couple of days later decided to upgrade and go to a soundcheck experience for the gig.

Email notifications came in from Ticketmaster Denmark. The first showing a refund for the soundcheck experience. The second, the issue of a replacement standard ticket. I still had two tickets. But BOTH had been allocated the 7pm show! What to do…

Come gig day, the weather was yuck. I booked a hotel not far from the venue, just a 10 minute walk away. I decided to head on down around lunchtime to see what was what. Maybe talk to a member of staff to see if there was a way to use one of the tickets I had to get into the second gig. There wasn’t really any venue staff around. There was band crew around though. I saw Del and asked if he was going to be singing the night. Charlie’s guitar tech (Mike?) was wandering about. And I saw GG (the FOH soundman). We had a hug, “no kisses!” he said. Lol. And a brief chat. He’s such a lovely man.

There wasn’t any sign of the band so best thought it would be good to go back to the hotel. I mean, if I AM going to chance getting in for both gigs, I better stay off my feet! We’d been out looking around the city the previous day and had walked MILES!

I was going to chance it. There was nothing on these tickets to say they were time specific. And if I could show a completely separate unused ticket for the other show, why would I not be able able to get in?

I got back down to the venue about 6.15pm. Those who had begun to lineup outside had already been let in. After dropping my jacket into the cloakroom, I went through with my first ticket. There was already a pretty full barrier of fans at the front. No room left in front of Jim. But there was a space left at the far end of Charlie’s (the left) side. I had a fairly clear view of everything but after a while realised I couldn’t see Berenice at all from that angle. Never mind. Hopefully I’ll get in a different position if I get through the next time.

Hearing all the mixtape of music that gets played before the show starts always heightens my anticipation of what’s about to happen. A wry smile spread across my face as they started to play Pop Muzik. But you know it’s all just about to kick off when they start playing Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker’s version of Gloria.

It was obvious from song one we were going to have something a little different go on. An altered set(s) to accommodate the two shows. I was expecting a trimming of songs. There had to be. There is no way they could perform 50 songs in one night!!

The set started with Theme For Great Cities. An absolutely stonking version! And it was a chance for (the usual shy and retiring) Gordy Goudie to strut his stuff at centre stage. Then as we near the end of the track, Jim and Sarah arrive on stage to much cheering and we plough straight on into Waterfront and She’s A River.

A minute or two to catch his breath, Jim is on one of his little stand up routines. Lol. (I’m taking the pish! He’s beautiful. He could stand on that stage, literally just saying, “blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah blah blah” and I’d be transfixed. Lol) talking about when SM started out how they’d never believe they’d play in places like Copenhagen, and that there’s no way it would be happening 40 years later. But to then be doing TWO SHOWS IN ONE NIGHT?! No way! And more incredible still, that as Scots, they’d do two shows in one night and only get paid FOR ONE?! Lol And on we go to Let There Be Love.

Then my favourite part of the set…a block of early 80’s gems – I Travel, Love Song, Glittering Prize, and The American….before things calmed for a spine-tingling Belfast Child.

The reigns go to Sarah as Jim takes a short break and she performs Book Of Brilliant Things. In all honesty, this song has been a bane for such a long time with me. I LOOOOOOOOVE the studio version on Sparkle In The Rain but it became a completely reworked song a couple of years later, and never went back to its original state. It has taken me a really, REALLY long time to….accept the change in the song. Sarah’s performance of it on Tuesday night, both times – and even BETTER on the second performance were just incredible. You just cannot not (oxymoron I know!) be swept up in her selling of the song. She’s just brilliant. And so emotive and so uplifting. She turns it into a gospel song. Jim said a long time ago, in an interview with Billy Sloan, that the song is like a child’s ode. Well…not now. It is the modern day’s Mahalia Jackson’s gospel delivery. Hallelujah! Amazing!

Then after that, Jim returns for the beautiful Someone, Somewhere In Summertime. And can I dream on the footage that I shared via FB Live that at one point he was singing to me?! Pffft! Of course not! As if he would!

A lovely version of See The Lights follows. Every time he sings the line “I’m too proud to cry”, I’m thinking “I’m not, Jim! I bloody love you to the moon and back and you make me cry buckets.”

In show one, it’s Dolphins that follows (after the Banging On The Door intro) and it’s always gorgeous. In show two, it was the ever-sensual and ephemeral Hunter And The Hunted. Some say Someone Somewhere In Summertime is the ultimate Simple Minds song, others say Speed Your Love To Me. Others again say Waterfront. But for a multitude of things….even though I always have Boys From Brazil and Wonderful In Young Life as my top personal faves…for the overall summing of a song that embodies everything that Simple Minds is, was, ever will be – it has to be Hunter And The Hunted! The ambiguity of the lyrics, that somehow manage to be sexy, sensual, romantic, mystical, haunting, eerie and menacing all at the same time. That thing Jim described as “romance mixed with the poison of real life”. Hunter And The Hunted is the epitome of that. Musically funky, sensual and haunting too. The song has everything. I was in heaven once again hearing it live. Ecstasy.

And the ecstasy continued as “the siren” wailed in for New Gold Dream. Some Simple Minds songs just never, ever, ever get old (the one performed before it – that shall remain nameless does get a bit old for me…but I still dutifully sing-along to the 8 minutes of “la la las” that ensue) and NGD is one of them. It’s a call-to-arms for me. We have one life…let’s make the most of it! Eureka!

Then we are at quite possibly the highlight of the night for me…both times…(though…HATH…BOBT…both amazing…Belfast Child too…HE DID IT TWICE! Hats off to you, Sir Kerr!) Berenice Scott and Sarah Brown performing Speed Your Love To Me. Berenice…a voice so wonderfully suited to it. Just…fragile and tender and beautiful. Wow!

Mainstay encores of Alive And Kicking and Sanctify Yourself and…that was it. Two of the most amazing Simple Minds shows I’ve seen yet.

Second show I was almost dead centre stage, in front of Jim…nowhere else in the world I want to be. In my dreams during the shows I believed I had him poke his tongue out at me and give me a wink…but I’m just a silly dreamer, and I’m sure it was meant for some stunning size 6 brunette behind me.

Everyone else was on top form. I had quite a bit of interaction with Charlie during show one. And Cherisse saw me and smiled and nodded and I gave her a wave at show two. She’s always so wonderful to me. They all played so amazing. And at the end of show two, you’d have never believed that’d just performed 36 songs over 4 hours! Incredible!

It was the most amazing night. And one I felt was rare enough for me to have my phone out for longer than I normally would. I was at two shows to be fair – exceptional circumstances, and I was as close to Jim as I was ever going to be while he was performing on stage…so I snapped away. NOT ALL NIGHT – as someone accused me but for around 20 minutes across both gigs. I filmed two songs from show one to Facebook Live – and filmed two more on video from shows two. Took hardly any photos from show one. But snapped away some more for show two. I could explain further as to why…but I don’t have to justify myself to anyone. Suffice it to say, it was kosher. And if Jim had been pissed off about it, I’m sure he’d have let me know!

And so, here is a smorgasbord of photos from Tuesday night. ENJOY! (And some video too!)