Where do I start? I don’t even know! Strap in – it’s gonna be a long one!
Friday, I guess, is the best place to start. In an exercise in preserving energy (and money), we (‘we’ once again being myself and Birdy) decided to set out fairly late on Friday afternoon. The plan had always been for the three of us to travel together – myself, Birdy and Michelle. Michelle couldn’t make the train to Edinburgh we took so we met her at the Caffe Nero inside Waverley station about 30 mins after we arrived.
We took a wander down to the far entrance of the gardens. As we made our way down we bumped into Alison Wilkinson and had a quick natter – all girly giggles and uber excitement. Once inside the gardens, we started to queue pretty much straight away. They opened the gates about 5.40pm, we made our way down to the area to collect our VIP wristbands and then got a front row position on Ged’s side of the stage.
Caught up with a few fans – Marc and Martin, Francesca and Christine. We had about 90 mins to wait before the support band, Walt Disco, came on to perform. My thoughts on them? Their stage presence was interesting. The singer reminded me of a young Tim Booth channelling the voice of Billy McKenzie (but nowhere near as good!). They weren’t really doing it for me. I checked out some of their music on Spotify a few nights before and…I got the feeling that they weren’t really going to be my thing. But I was open to being surprised and won over, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
There was a security lady right in front of me and Birdy and she was totally cracking me up, pulling faces and pretending to block her ears as they continued to perform. When the singer said “we’ve got two songs left”, she rolled her yes, mopped her forehead and mouthed “thank fuck for that!” under her breath. Lol. I felt for them. I don’t think they won the crowd over. I couldn’t help but think of what Jim has said about being the support for Peter Gabriel and how they seemed to struggle to win the Gabriel fans over, for the most part. I at least tried to look like I was enjoying myself in front of these guys. Gave them a round of applause after each song, etc. I didn’t want to look like a miserable fucker in front of them. At least they weren’t booed off or anything bad like that. I’d definitely give them a 9/10 for stage presence – but their music was not to my liking.
We met up with Alison again and more fun and hilarity ensued.
Then you start to take note of the songs coming from the sound desk to try and gauge how long there is to wait…Blondie’s Rapture, Arcade Fire’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, Sparks first airing with When Do I Get To Sing My Way?…. Love Is The Drug (roll on October!)…Heaven 17’s Fascist Groove Thang…building, building, building (checking the time on your watch – come on! Tick tock!)…then…the bass chords and the striking of those piano keys…Sparks start again…”So May We Start?” We go mental! IT’S SHOWTIME!
It feels like forever from those opening chords until we spot Cherisse making her way to the kit, swiftly followed by Charlie, Berenice, Ged and Gordy…then, finally…Mister Fancy Pants…the crowd is full on going fucking nuts – there is no other buzz like it!
Straight into Act Of Love, then Love Song….they never play a dud show. I don’t know what else I can say…what other superlatives there are! Book Of Brilliant Things is just OUT OF THIS WORLD! This has been the best version of the song – BAR NONE – on this tour. In Paris I felt like I was in an actual gospel church, it was fucking amazing. On Friday night, I was in church again…actually, no…I wasn’t in church…I was all the way into heaven!
I was waiting for a little something from Jim…just…SOMETHING. It feels like the most awful game being played out. I’m just waiting for something from him, but I’m not going to wave about and look like some desperate old hag seeking his attention….but inwardly I am thinking “please smile…say hello…SOMETHING…or maybe just stop in front of me for a second…anything”. On Friday night it felt like he spent the night either down Charlie’s side, or he just walked on right past to the extreme right of stage, or stayed in the middle…no in betweens….bugger! Then it’s all like “He’s a blind bat…probably couldn’t see me. Yeah…more like didn’t WANNA see me!” So that’s my own little personal gripe – I felt a little invisible. But I guess that’s what I want, right?
Friday was wonderful. They were outstanding, as always. When the show was over, I could hardly move. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to get back up the next day and do it all over again. The mind and heart were still willing, but the body (esp. the legs) was flagging after Friday’s show. And we still had to get home! We moved our way past the sound booth on the way out, so I said a quick hi and bye to GG.
Walking back to Waverley station was quite painful. Mercifully the train wasn’t so full as to be standing only all the way back to Glasgow. Once back at Queen Street the taxi rank by George Square was HOACHIN’! There was about 30 people ahead of us. I tried booking a private cab but we were going to be waiting an hour for it, so I cancelled it and got back in the queue. It was an hour from the time we got out of Queen St until we got a taxi. Home by 1.30am – back up to do it all again at 7.30am! Fuck!
Sleep eluded me. My legs just ached and throbbed all night. Kept me awake for hours. My bedroom was stifling as well. Glasgow had been warmer than Edinburgh and my room gets all the strong afternoon sun. I think I finally managed to drift off around 5am. Got maybe two to two and a half hours of interrupted sleep.
Got up, showered straight away. Went and had a coffee and a banana. Legs buzzing. Head spinning. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to last this whole day.
We headed off up to Ashfield station just after 9.30am to get the 9.41 train to Queen St. As we rounded the corner to Ashfield Street, Birdy says “and, you’ve got the tickets, right?” “OH! HOLY FUCK! No, I haven’t! Shiiiiit!” I frantically call the OH. She’s not answering. I’m running back to the house as quickly as I can. There’s no way I’ll make it back for the train, I just know it. The OH answers the second time. I try and tell her where the tickets are. I get back to the house and she hands me what I hope is the right envelope and the tickets. Nope! Oh, fuck! She runs back upstairs, comes back with the right ones. We leg it back to the station – get to the bridge over the station and we see the train pulling in. We won’t make it down to the platform to get it. FUUUUUCK!!! Never mind! Thank God there is time to catch the 75 bus instead and still make the Edinburgh Express train at Queen St. The bus arrives a few minutes later and we’re on our way.
It is NOT how I was wanting Saturday to start!
We arrive in Edinburgh at 11.30am. It’s already HEAVING! I know that the place Bruce is talking to Graeme Thomson at is on George Street. But it was about half a mile or so down the other end. We only just make it for the midday start! Bruce was fabulous. Never boring! Always so chatty and just still so enthusiastic about music. He’s a great raconteur.
Got to say hello to him afterwards and had my ticket signed. I felt like I put my foot in my mouth. That…maybe I said something he took the wrong way or something. I think he’s grown wary of me or something? I don’t know. Probably just my general paranoia. I always feel like everyone hates me. No one is more surprised than me when someone approaches me to say hello to me. Mostly I think people want to give me a wide berth – or I’ll take the bull by the horns and approach someone. It’s rare it ever feels mutual. The only time it IS mutual is when someone approaches me first because I KNOW they have wanted to come and say hello to me, and I am always happy to see whomever they are.
Briefly got to catch up with a few others; Jason, Maria and George, Angelique and Gordon – also said a quick hello to Graeme again.
We had a table booked at Cafe Andaluz back up the road. Not for a little while yet but we thought we’d see if we could get in early. As I stepped off the kerb to cross the road there in front of me was Tim Vine. You’ll know the rest from the previous post. I guess with all that is going on in Edinburgh at this time of year, you are bound to spot a celeb or two.
Cafe Andaluz was, once again this word is needed, HOACHIN’! But we were able to be seated early which was fabulous as the three of us were STARVING! I had a lovely butterbean salad and these lovely lightly battered prawns served with a garlic aioli. I always have dessert too. I loooooove the Crema Catalana (Spanish creme brulee) and usually have that but there was something new on the menu and I was too intrigued by it not to at least try it this time. I had the Cremoso De Maracuya – which was a passionfruit cremeux, served with a little topping of chopped apple and a biscuit crumb. Really light and delicious. The passionfruit flavour in the cremeux was strong and tart. So nice! The food at Cafe Andaluz is ssooo delicious. But I do need to get back to Non Viet for some more summer rolls while there is some summer left.
After mains and desserts there was coffee all round. Michelle and Birdy both had espresso. I’m not that brave and hard and had a cappuccino. I was feeling the effects of everything by this point and was just a bit…not quite right. The restaurant was just ssooo busy the cacophony of human voices in chatter was just really getting to me. It was pretty bloody warm too. It was warmer in Edinburgh on Saturday than it had been the previous day (which was warm enough). It was around 4pm when we left the restaurant and we wanted some shade. Birdy and I sought shade in the gardens while Michelle wandered off elsewhere for a bit to meet us back in the gardens at the VIP gates.
Near the gates was some shaded area so Birdy and I decided to take shelter. We spotted Francesca, who had also just arrived and we got chatting away. Jason was also there and soon a few other fans I know arrived and a few I hadn’t met before. From this point, at around 4.30pm, it would be the last time I would sit down until the taxi home from Queen Street some 8 hours later! Double ouch!
About an hour or so waiting in the queue at the gates. People tried to run to get to the gates where the wristbands were issued. There was no way I could run or even walk with any real pace. Birdy and Michelle left me for dead. Lol. We were determined to get to Charlie’s side tonight. We made it. Not right in front of Charlie, but just about on the edge of the visible area of the stage. A pretty good spot, I have to say. Around 15 minutes after we arrive a man approaches me and says “are you Larelle?” “Yes,” I say, tentatively. “I’m Tony Jewitt.” OMG! Then I am thanking him for filling so many gaps in my Johnny-come-lately fan life by posting so many SM videos up on YouTube. Between him and Simon running Dream Giver Redux, as well as Art&Talk on YouTube – these men and their content were my lifelines – and the way I educated myself on all things Simple Minds. We got chatting away for ages and then…trouble turned up!
I knew he was coming because he’d rung me on Friday morning to say he was coming up for the Saturday gig. I saw the hat before anything else. In comes Baggers…all swagger. Lol. Crushing hugs, big old bloody sloppy kiss. Then he spots Birdy and he’s off again! It was great to see him. I’ve missed the big galoot!
My legs were already throbbing away for being on my feet this long already. Around 7.40pm the support act, Hamish Hawk, came on. Instantly saw shades of Ian Curtis in his mannerisms and performing style. Really liked the music. Loved the lyrics I was hearing. He had a great rapport with the crowd. The more he performed, the more I got hooked. Really enjoyed his set. Michelle formed the same opinion as me so I think we may be going to a Hamish Hawk gig together sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Again, after HH’s set, the countdown began…listening to the playlist coming through the mixing desk. I was praying they’d be on a bit earlier than they were on Friday night. They were…just. Despite Friday’s gig being a sell-out and Saturday’s not – there seemed to be a much bigger crowd on Saturday night. That’s how it seemed. Jim had explained on a Facebook post that the way the night was going to go was some songs – then all of New Gold Dream – then a few more songs to close the set. All sounded grand!
The night started with Waterfront, then Love Song and then yet another stellar Book Of Brilliant Things, followed by See The Lights. Then they started the New Gold Dream part of the set. You know when you get that feeling you’re being singled out? Well, before they started this part of the set, Jim said (not verbatim) “These songs are 40 years old, so give us some slack if the words aren’t absolutely perfect.” LARELLLLLLLLLE! (He said in his head at the end of that statement.) Anyone would think I am ALWAYS complaining to him! Listen here, Kerr – right! Someone Somewhere In Summertime – you’ve been singing “calling out YOUR name” instead of MY name for…who knows how many years now. Do I pull you up for that? Promised A Miracle has been “belief is THE ONLY thing” instead of being “a beauty thing” for x number of years now too. I’ve never said a word. Glittering Prize – no “see it in the eye / satellite skies” or “take in take in more / undless breath away” – never mentioned a word about it. I will say that you got Colours Fly and Big Sleep utterly perfect! Big Sleep you sang “immaculate friend” and “it could have been years or was it seconds ago”. I was overjoyed and nearly crying. And I only ever pull you up on these things because YOUR WORDS COUNT, JIM! THEY MEAN STUFF! Every line means something. If they didn’t mean anything…then I wouldn’t care.
I missed the lines that were missed in King Is White – I missed hearing “lovers run Camp Africa / the bars in town are civilised” and “love lies under Western eyes / so powerful and transient”. I missed them – but it was a wonderful version regardless.
ANYWAY! The NGD set…
Someone Somewhere In Summertime was perfect! Perfect weather, perfect backdrop. Then technical issues struck. Cherisse had a problem with her kit. Her drum tech Del (aka Derek Paterson) and another member of the crew went hard at work to sort it. Jim decided to use the time to intro the band – when he gets to Cherisse, he says “One of the best…even if she does have a shitty fucking drumkit.” Lol. Tech issue sorted a few minutes later and off we went again. A fantastic Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel, Promised You A Miracle – the most gorgeous, gorgeous Big Sleep, then a first for all of us – Somebody Up There Likes You. It was beautiful. Just beautiful! New Gold Dream, Glittering Prize. There was another tech issue with Cherisse’s kit – I think it was before Hunter And The Hunted…I can’t remember now. But it was sorted quickly and both HATH and King Is White And In The Crowd were amazing!
It was HATH and this happened before. I got a lump in my throat here. It all seemed to overwhelm Jim right at this point. We felt it too! You’re beautiful, Mr Kerr. Francesca captured the moment. I’m so glad she did. Thank you, Francesca.
The night ended with a long and joyful sing along of Don’t You – I said to Birdy “What’s he gonna say now that he can’t say ‘we’ve got work tomorrow’?”, making out he’s giving everyone the hurry up. Well…he’s an old pro, so he changes it to “we’ve got a train to catch.” Lol. Well, we did and all, boy-o! Lol. But there’s still Alive And Kicking and Sanctify Yourself to go.
Oh, dear God what a painful walk back to Waverley station it was! To then only get a train back to Glasgow that was ssoooo heaving I had to stand for the whole journey. Michelle went on ahead. She really wanted to be on the train and so she excused herself and went on ahead. Birdy and I both made it to the platform and the train was departing in about a minute. The guards kept ushering people to the end carriages. Birdy couldn’t walk any more and got on a carriage. I was ahead of her and didn’t look back and see her do this, so I just had to assume she got on the train and I got on the train two carriages along. Birdy got a seat. Michelle got a seat from Falkirk. I stood all the way. The carriage I got on was heaving and it seemed like everyone in my carriage was on all the way to Queen Street. Typical. The train had a couple of extra stops both nights at Lenzie and Bishopbriggs. I thought about getting off at Bishopbriggs, but there was no way I could make sure Birdy would get off at the station with me. And I’ve only ever walked to Bishopbriggs, or been in a car. Never been to the train station there, so god knows what it’s like after midnight. Thought it best to just stay on til Queen Street knowing there’ll be another horrendous queue for taxis.
The wait wasn’t as long as Friday night but still long enough. I was in so much pain with my legs by this point, I was nearly crying. I feared that once I got in the taxi and was finally able to sit down for the first time in 8 hours, that I’d never get back up again! Somehow I managed to. Thankfully!
I wouldn’t have swapped it for the world. It was an amazing weekend.
Ten minutes after arriving home, I got a message telling me about Robert Gray. Beautiful Rob. I know he wouldn’t have wanted me to be sad, but I cried my eyes out. All I could think about was Leeds and being so thankful for that night with him and Chris. Having one last gig with him and being in his company.
This whole tour has been incredible. And there is a new album to come! I can’t believe how amazing this band still is after nearly 45 years. I mean…45 years! It SHOULD seem old. But they are as fresh and relevant as they ever were in 1982. Just amazing. Aberdeen, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle, Paris, Blenheim Palace, and finally, these two Edinburgh shows I will cherish them all for all varying reasons. And I am so excited for the next chapter!
Once again, to Cherisse, Ged, Gordy, Berenice, Sarah, Charlie and Jim – and to all the hard-working crew – THANK YOU! Thank you for always, always delivering and giving all us Minds fans “the greatest show on earth” – not just “tonight – love” but every night. Always.
See you all again very soon.