January – Go! Don’t go!

What does one do when the creative writing well seems dry? Find a topic? Pick something?

It’s nearing the end of the first week of January. I could talk to you about howJanuary feels to me? It feels like a month of 62 days! Most of the time…

But this time may just be different. We are almost one week in to this (usually) most arduous of months. At this rate it will sail by! But that is the trap January usually sets. It starts out fleeting and then seems to grind to a laborious halt around midway through. 

It’s definitely a northern hemisphere affliction, the long, arduous January. I have no recollection of Januarys lagging while I was growing up. In fact it was very much the opposite. Januarys were all too fleeting. It’s the height of summer in the southern hemisphere and for kids on the east coast of Australia, it’s summer holidays. Schools break up a few days before Christmas, and when I was growing up we had a six week break from school. We didn’t return to school until the second week of February. Yay!! It’s a little different down there now as there is an extended break over Easter that didn’t happen when I was going to school. At Easter back then it was just Good Friday and Easter Monday off school. Now there is a full week off school which means summer holidays are now generally five weeks long and the school year starts at the end of January in New South Wales, at least. 

So, as you can appreciate, the Januarys of my childhood felt like they were only maybe a week or two weeks long. And the end of January was dreaded! It meant the return to school was imminent. Now – the end of January is to be celebrated! The days are getting incrementally longer and, at long last, the month is done with! There is light at the end of the bleak, mid-winter tunnel. Hurrah!

This January is different. There are things to look forward to! My university study begins in just over two weeks time. And a few days after that, the new book on Simple Minds – Themes For Great Cities gets released. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone else’s thoughts on that. Also, Sarah Brown is releasing the debut single off her new solo album. That will be fantastic to hear.

What other news to come of Simple Minds? I pray there are some! March quite literally marches on and we are still quite deep into this Covid thing. Is the fear of it now vastly exceeding its threat to our lives? I feel we have turned that corner due to the vaccine rollout. It is very obvious the vaccines have done an incredible job by and large by reducing the severity of symptoms and effects, of not necessarily severity and rate of contagion. 

I am as doubtful of the prospect of seeing Simple Minds in Paris in March as I was by mid March of 2020. But then I had the gratitude of having just seen them in Copenhagen and the blind optimism that the Covid pandemic would be over in a few months at worst. 

April is a more promising prospect. And all within the UK, so perhaps even if on a personal level Paris proves a no-no, I am…mildly confident I will see the band come April.

But what else is there on the horizon to look forward to? Jim’s posts of late have been more on the personal, or of band history, not much of what’s to come – which is incredibly odd for a forward thinker like Jim. I guess he’s just as flummoxed as the rest of us about what the imminent future holds? There was talk of new music last year, but little of that has been discussed since. No news (from the next world) is good news? We’ll see in due course, I guess.

Perhaps I am better at this “writing from scratch” with a blank page in front of me than I give myself credit for?!

It bodes well for the study. Over the weekend I looked at the breakdown of my course. I could see what the whole academic year looked like. The topics we’ll be covering every week and what is required for each assessment during the year. I am excited. The Arts and Humanities is so broad. We’ll be looking at many things, from Cleopatra, to Elizabeth I, Gothic Architecture, painting and Greek and Roman sculpture, Mozart, The Blues, Philosophy, poetry, art from central and southern Africa. I am champing at the bit to dive in.

Today, January is flying by and I am welcoming its end for vastly different reasons than I normally would be. 

Let the year begin!

In the meantime…a nod to January…

As Dorothy Said To Aunty Em…

“There’s no place like home.” A much used quote lifted from The Wizard Of Oz. But it rings true. And it certainly seemed to have rung true on the nights of November 18th and 19th, 1982.

Simple Minds had just returned to Glasgow after another whirlwind stint of touring to the far reaches of the globe (yes, GLOBE – no “flat earth” conspiracy theorists here! Have ANY of these flat-earthers NEVER been on a plane? How do they explain the curvature of the earth and the horizon? I digress!) – heading back to Australia, New Zealand and Canada directly after the release of New Gold Dream.

I was looking into fanzines on eBay last night, after having seen an enquiring post on my FB feed about a certain Scottish produced fanzine. I thought I’d have a hunt around the interwebs and see what I could find. I decided on eBay first and got caught up looking at fanzines on there. One in particular caught my eye. One called Deadbeat. I looked at the listing of every issue and viewed the images, trying to scan and find more info on the fanzine production itself more than anything.

No one was then more surprised than me to find within the shared images of one listing of the magazine – THIS! A review of Simple Minds playing Tiffany’s in November, 1982. It’s unclear as to whether the reviewer is at the first gig or the second, but regardless of that it’s a glowing review.

The only error in the review is that they say Mike Ogletree is on drums. And it wasn’t until I was listening over the bootleg last night did I think to myself “Naw, pal. That ain’t Mike, that’s Mel.” Mike’s last gig was in Toronto about 10 nights prior to this gig. So in actual fact, it was Mel’s first or second night at the kit – depending on which night the reviewer was there.

They wax lyrical about Jim. Such praise! Excited at my discovery of this review last night I did a very rare thing (these days) and posted it to SMOG first with a link to Art & Talk’s upload of the November 18th gig to YouTube. In my post on SMOG, in reference to the lashings of praise heaped on Jim, I said “anyone would think I wrote the review! Lol.”

It is true though – anyone WOULD think I had time travelled and gone and reviewed it for the fanzine. It is wonderful to see such praise given to His Kerrness though. And it’s certainly nothing I wouldn’t have done myself.

A companion piece for me are the photos I have from Virginia of them playing the second night at Tiffany’s. My favourite photo of the set? One of Jim on the stage – looking pretty fucking sensational, I have to say in signature white collared shirt, shiny tailored trousers and black wee “ballet” shoes. And in the bottom left corner of the frame you can see his brother, Mark, looking as though he would rather be anywhere else than watching his big bro up on stage. Lol. Poor Mark! It’s not in the ones I have posted above, but you can view the particular photo I am referring to on Virginia’s site HERE

Lastly, here is the link to the first of the two Tiffany’s gigs that A&T uploaded. Oh, for a night at Tiffany’s! This is the next best thing…

P.S. Artwork used for the YT ident, eh? *wink* Thanks A&T!

“Bible” Updates

Dream Giver Redux (aka simpleminds.org) has had some updates – including some photos sent in from a lady in Brisbane. There was talk of SM performing in Brisbane for the first time in 1981 – I don’t doubt that. There was space in the calendar in 1981 for them to have played Brissie between their Gold Coast gig on Charlie’s birthday and their next penciled in gig on Dec 1st in Newcastle.

But the photos she sent in? They definitely come from 1982 by my reckoning. The way Jim and Charlie are dressed and look. It’s signature 1982 – Jim’s haircut and his clothes are definitely then.

My pedantry aside, the photos are great. I love these kind of photos! Ones taken crudely from people sneaking in cameras. Those were the days, eh? Don’t get me wrong – I love the pro photos! God knows I love the pro photos! But these amateur photos make the things feel more real.

Geez I wish I’d had been born in 1960 instead of 1970!

Update page with the photos on it can be viewed HERE

Return To Oz Is Off

Sadly inevitable. Too much uncertainty around. And, for me, this tour was off last year – even though it had initially been rescheduled for the end of this year. I wasn’t going to be travelling there. And I had resigned myself to the fate of money squandered. I didn’t like my chances of selling my tickets on. So on a personal note, I am thankful for the tour cancellation because I know I will get refunds on my tickets now. I am grateful not to be resigned to swallowing up another loss of funds. Small mercies.

I feel for my friends there. Australia is a loooong way and not everyone can just get on a plane and travel to the other side of the world to see the band they love. A few Aussie fans have been fortunate to do that, but there are some who would never have those funds or opportunities. My heart really does go out to those guys.

I hope Simple Minds will make it back out there again sooner rather than later. In the meantime – don’t be disappointed with the band, or their management, or the promoters. They have done all they can to try and get these things to go ahead. They are losing their livelihoods and the live music scene around the world is on its knees! I know Jim and Charlie and the rest of the band will be as disappointed and disheartened as the fans.

It’s this bloody pandemic. It’s Coronavirus, Covid-19…whatever you want to call this absolute cockwomble of a thing! And government ineptitude by and large. You know, the whole world. EVERY COUNTRY could have done with the leadership of New Zealand. Every country could have done with a Jacinda Ardern as their leader. Had every country stayed locked like NZ did, then maybe just MAYBE we’d not be in the state we’re in right now the world over. But we’ll never really know.

I hope you are all staying safe and well.

Oz Music’s Big Loss

One of the biggest names in the Australian music industry has passed away. Michael Gudinski created one of the biggest record labels in Australia – Mushroom, and it had on its books just about every Australian music artist or band you’d ever wish to name.

From Skyhooks to Split Enz to Kylie Minogue, many a musical act has at some point either been on the Mushroom label, or had some dealing or other with Mr Gudinski.

He also set up Frontier Touring, one of Australia’s largest tour promoters and was responsible for getting a wealth of worldwide acts to make the long-haul flights Down Under to tour the country and play live.

The Australian music industry owes a lot to him. He will be very sadly missed.

Maudlin In Melbourne – Bootleg 1/10/1982

I started listening to a new bootleg last night (new to me, at least!) of Simple Minds in Melbourne on the New Gold Dream tour of 1982. It’s their second night in Melbourne (having performed the previous night at the Latrobe University campus) and their fourth night on the Australian leg of the tour.

It seemed to start out well enough. They started (or at least the bootleg started) out with Love Song. They then went into Colours Fly. Jim was trying to keep his voice real low but would give up and would end up screeching. He sounded a bit off and was delivering bum notes here and there.

Given the subject matter of his latest post, I feel a bit pernickety for bringing up his vocal performance – esp. from a gig that’s nearly 40 years old. But…just humour me. I wasn’t around for these things the first time and even though it’s a retrospective critique, these gigs are heard with fresh ears – my fresh ears! I never really took a HUGE amount of interest in bootlegs, (just as a side note, WHY ARE bootlegs called “bootlegs”? I must look that up!) I could never understand why anyone bothered with them because they invariably sounded shit. Either the recording was shit, or the band was crap…or both.

Perhaps it is purely through the now almost completely dead live music scene do I find myself now exploring these recordings more? A combination of that, and of “newer” unearthed gigs being shared on YouTube for our collective listening pleasure that has resulted in this.

Anyways, back to the gig. Jim intros the next song in the usual way he did then “from New Gold Dream, this is called Hunter And The Hunted” – even his intro sounded lacklustre. But he had a propensity of sounding like that back then – the only time his nerves and the stage fright were detectable and audible was when he spoke.

As I listened intently, I couldn’t tell whether he was delivering it more impassioned than usual, or more despondently. His vocal was again off kilter. Not in a way it normally would be! You know, he’s diving around that stage like a whirling dervish. Taking lunges and leaps and skulking about like a panther. Somehow both balletic and yet acrobatic at the same time. More fluid in his moves than the robotic, stilted jerky movements he’d make a couple of years previous. He was at that point very athletic physically in his stage performance. Yet despite that, his vocal performance rarely faltered. Yes, he’d get breathless at times but what came across most was the passion in his performance. He rarely ever seemed to give a bum note.

It seemed about half-way through the song that…he just wasn’t feeling it. Or at least I detected more pain in his voice than passion. He seemed to not really be “in the moment”. It was feeling like he didn’t want to be there. Or at least that, it was getting hard to be there and be “on”. He was still trying to deliver impassioned performance. “Only with you life moves so fucking fast!”

At the end of the song and after the “thank you” he says rather forlorn “everything’s so fast”. It sounded so down! I winced when he said it and was just thinking “aaawww, Jim! What was happening to you that night, beautiful man?”

The gig was starting to sound flat. I couldn’t tell whether it was being projected through Jim, or whether the band were starting to sound flat and then that was having a knock-on effect on Jim, vice versa, or if it was just what I was feeling listening to it.

It’s hard to get a full idea of things. Without the visuals to get any visual indicators of how he was feeling it is all down to interpreting how he was feeling and his performance via voice alone. The crowd are still very responsive. They seem receptive enough.

To me, compared to the other gigs I’ve listened to lately – something just doesn’t feel right. Maybe he was just cold? Lol (I’m being flippant.)

As he intros Someone Somewhere In Summertime he says “will soon be warm here”. Sleep then got the better of me. Me drifting off while laying on my left side, looking at my wall of Kerrs inwardly thinking, “What was up, Jim? What was going on with you that night? Just…not feeling it? Geez, you’re beautiful…” and then …. *lights out*

I’m not sure I want to listen to the rest. But as an object in full retrospective critique, I guess it would be prudent to do so.

Let me know what you guys think. Is it just me? (Most likely. Lol. It usually always is “just me”…)

Thanks again to Stuart Greaves for uploading the audio.

Rewind To Oz – New Gold Discs, 1982

This photo was shared by Bruce Findlay on Twitter a few days back. It’s of Simple Minds (and Bruce) receiving gold discs for New Gold Dream in Australia in 1982.

Pictured are Jim Kerr, Derek Forbes (behind Jim), Mike Ogletree, Mick MacNeil and Bruce.

The photo was sent to Bruce by former Roadrunner magazine founder and publisher, Donald Robertson. You can read more about him and the magazine at roadrunnertwice.com.au

Of course, it was Roadrunner magazine that has one of my favourite magazine covers of all time – and one I tried in vain to get a copy of early on in my fandom – the one of Jim with Iva Davies on the cover. There is a section of Mr Robertson’s blog in which you can view a digital copy of every issue of the magazine that was produced.

I love seeing photos like these. They allow you in to a little bit of history that you missed.

I think I should think about renaming my blog “The Vicarious Mind”. Lol

Run Back To Yesterday

Today Billy Sloan on his show page for BBC Radio Scotland was asking which gig that you’ve been to in the past would you want to go back and experience again.

Not sure I would want to go to any specific ones, really. Probably just any Simple Minds one.

But…oh, the chance to see them in the past with gigs I have never been to in the first place? PLLLEEEEAAAAASSSSSSEEE! ALL OF 5X5 LIVE! Every single gig it is possible to go to – just to start.

1982 Jim – there’s MY Alasdair Gray follow-up to Lanark – 1982 JIM – sod Janine! Lol

Just…from this distance and passage of time, looking back at him at that time, I am transfixed. I can only imagine what I’d be like IN FRONT OF HIM at that time.

Yes, I am feeling it bad today because…I am very down on myself. Very disappointed and upset with myself. As a consequence it is just…I’m just seeking comfort in the things that…yeah.

ANY gig from 1982. Anywhere in Europe in the spring and early summer. Cologne. Anything while they were in Oz in 1982. The Friars, Aylesbury – then off to Oz. Oh, imagine it! New Gold Dream has only just come out and Jim looks fucking breathtaking. I don’t even care. I’m not even gonna apologise! Don’t believe me? Check that Sheila Rock pic from the other day. Someone said to me from me sharing it on my FB feed a few days back (a few comments had been left by that point) “oh, you ladies aren’t talking about his ‘package’ – you’ve disappointed me.” I replied saying “I covet his tits more than his junk.” Lol

Such brazen objectification. But it is true! I know the topic comes up for discussion, but honestly…I don’t feel I’m obsessed with his…”appendage”. There is sssoooo much more about Sir Kerr I am into than…that! His brain…just for a start. Not the other thing most men think with! Lol

ANYWAY! Gigs! Dream gigs. I don’t want to go back to a gig I’ve already experienced. Been there, done that…right? So! I want time travel. I want a gig I never got to experience by actually being there.

I watch some of the things from 1982…I watch him and think about how I feel when I am at gigs now – standing in front of him, watching him…thinking “Oh, you intoxicating, delicious…just…ggrrrr” then put that to how I’d be feeling being there in 1982. I think I’d end up catatonic. Lol. I’m sure. Probably end up in hospital or something. Lol

This is why I am so stunned that I am not finding my wall of Kerrnessnessnessness a distraction at the kit. But I genuinely am motivated by those pictures. Thank god I am! I need to be. Because so much else is bringing me down right now. Me! In every other way. I am a fucking c***, basically. I really, really hate myself right now.

I’m going to leave you with Jim. Well…Simple Minds actually. But…Jim.

Let’s Rock!

A wonderful friend of mine in Oz – Wendy – has done these amazing rock paintings for me.

When she showed me the progress of the New Gold Dream themed one a few days back, I cried my eyes out. I knew she was working on a silhouette of Jim but I wasn’t expecting that amazing NGD cover background on the rock. I was overwhelmed.

Today she shared photos of both completed rocks with me and I absolutely adore them both.

They will take several weeks to get to me all the way from sunny Queensland, but they will find the most loving home here when they arrive in not-quite-so-sunny Glasgow.