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.

Minds Music Monday – Ritchie’s Club – New Orleans – 27/04/1983

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.

Enjoy!

Looking Forward To Gay Paris!

There’s a break for me now in the gigs I have coming up. I’ll be in Edinburgh at the end of the month for my birthday treat of seeing a touring production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – making it my sixth time seeing the show and the first time seeing it since the last show I saw in Milton Keynes in 2012.

I have a couple of Warm Digits gigs in November – once again heading to Edinburgh to see them and then a few nights later back here in Glasgow.

After that, I have two shows book for December. Warm Digits once again, this time in Newcastle…but that has a question mark over for now. Then two nights later on Dec 18th, I’ve booked to see Memes at McChuills.

Then in January, a Celtic Connections gig and then The Stranglers at the O2 Academy. Nothing for February – as far as I am aware… but in all honesty, your guess is as good as mine. I didn’t even remember I booked The Stranglers gig until a couple of weeks back when I was sorting out my email account.

And then…March! Which I had been discussing last night and today with my gig buddy and partner-in-crime, Birdy.

Over the past 24 hours I have sorted flights to Paris (goddamn gotta fly to and back from Edinburgh as flights from/to Glasgow don’t run as frequently as they do from Auld Reekie) and sorted out a place to stay right near the venue. And by ‘eck – WHAT A VENUE! I am allowing myself some mild excitement once again. This will probably be my only venture to see SM outside of the UK next year. I have thoroughly kissed goodbye to Taormina and I am only tentatively contemplating a return to Dublin now (I have a ticket for the Dublin gig though). I’m not relishing the idea of a flight with Ryanair …. but I may consider other options to get there. We’ll see. If not then we have… Paris, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle…(Dublin?)…Blenheim Palace….Edinburgh.

Paris will be the first Simple Minds gig, almost two years to the day since I saw them in Copenhagen. I am lamenting there is now only one day between Paris and Bordeaux as it now means Bordeaux cannot happen for us. With it being during the week and only a day in between it just isn’t working out now. Bordeaux was a pricey mistake anyway, goddamnit!

In the meantime….check out the Paris venue! La Seine Musicale…beautiful!

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!

Craig Hill – Pavilion Theatre – 1/10/2021

My birthday month started yesterday. And yes, I DO consider the whole of October my “birthday month”. Lol. Not that I actually go celebrating my birthday EVERY day in October. It’s just that once October begins I am then allowed to declare to anyone who cares that “it’s my birthday this month/at the end of the month”.

Well…by coincidence of the date, the birthday month started with a nice celebration! And the joy of seeing Craig Hill for the first time in….I honestly don’t know when. “Hunners” of years. Lol. He rarely would come down to England to do gigs, but when he would do, I’d make a point to go and see him. 

It should have been happening last March at Oran Mor but then Covid had other ideas! But at last, last night I was quite literally “Pumped” to be seeing Craig again.

And he didnae disappoint. From the moment he hit that stage. Arriving in a style you’d thoroughly expect him to. Dancing about, twirling round in his colour coordinated kilt. 

Audience participation is high at a Craig Hill gig, so be prepared! And nowhere is really safe. But if you’re up for the banter, you’ll get it at a Craig Hill gig – and some banter! Boom boom! His style of comedy is sssoooo up my street! Lol

Comedy gig faux pas NUMBER ONE happened right on cue last night with poor Chris (we didn’t learn his name until much later on) – arriving to the FRONT ROW right as Craig is still doing his opening sing-song intro. I clocked him walking down the CENTRE AISLE, just as Craig clocked him – his eyes lit up like Chris arrived from the lap of the gods. All the gay pick-up innuendo lines in the song just kept coming from there…aimed squarely at Chris, filled with winks and lip licks and kisses blown and kilt thrusts and all sorts. 

“Are you a gay man?” asks Craig. “Naw”, says Chris. “You will be the night!”, retorts Craig – with a wink and a lick of the lips. “I could hear his sphincter tightening then.” Lol

He makes a note of the ladies in the front row who have all settled nicely but are all sitting there with their jaikets still oan. One of them was laughing particularly enthusiastically. “I see why yer havenae taken yer jaiket aff noo. It’s ta moap up the pish.” 

He asked one of the jaiketed ladies their name and she said “Margaret”. “Ah knew you’d have a name like that! Where ya fae, Margaret?” “Cambuslang”, she says. And he’s off with the innuendo again, referring to it as “camp-u-slang”. Margaret calls out “Cam Bus Lang!” And then he’s like “Aye! Listen to the attitude on her. IT’S A JOKE, MARGARET!” Which for the rest of the night meant he kept referring to Cambuslang as “CAM BUS LANG!” and saying it really emphatically. 

He sniffed out a gay…actually there was a couple there (a gay couple, I mean…not a couple of gays. Though there was that too….). James, the barber from East Kilbride, and his partner Jimmy (just in case you had any illusion to the name James and variations there of NOT being possibly the most popular male name in all of Scotland…living proof last night!) – who was the social pariah of the room for daring to admit he came fae England! But…Durham, so far enough north to be somewhat let off the hook for DARING to cross Hadrian’s Wall. Lol

He noticed some people up in the dress circle. A couple of people sitting over to the side as if they were in a royal box. He asked the lady of the pair her name – Norma, it was. He had a field day with that. Then says “Where ya fae, Norma?” “Stornaway”, she says. “Whaaaa? Did you travel doon the day?” “Yes”, she says. “Did you travel all the way fae Stornaway to see me?” “Aye.” “Stalker!” “Did you come with someone?” “Aye. My son.” So then he gets his sights set on the son, whose name is Gary. Turns out Gary is quite shy and isnae good wit the banter but of course Craig was loving that. Comedy gold!

There was an interval for 15 minutes and in the second half Craig did a more broader sweep of the crowd, wanting to know where people travelled from. He mentioned Milngavie at one point and then asked if anyone was in fae Milngavie. One person braved a response. “What’s your name? And depending on your reply we’ll know if yer really fae Milngavie.” “Lyn” “Aye, you WORK in Milngavie, you don’t LIVE in Milngavie.” Lol

Then he spies a young kid over our side of the audience, a few rows ahead of us. “How old are you?” “Sixteen”. “Well, yer getting an education the night! Is that yer maw and da wit ya?” “Aye”, says Da. “Where ya fae?” Da answers “Possil.” Kid chimes in “Just him. Am no fae there.” Craig is like “Ooh, family break up. This’ll be interesting.” “So, Da fae Possil, what’s yer name?” “Davey”. “And what ya do, Davey?” “Sell drugs.” I’m reckoning from living doon the road fae Possil, Davey was just being full-on honest. Lol.

He keeps asking if there are other gays in or if there are any lesbians. There was Angela the dinner lady fae Castlemilk in. “Well, naw spotted dick for you, Angela.” “Are ya here wit anyone, Angela?” “A friend.” “Ooh, you could hear the quotation marks around that. ‘A friend’. She’s got the toys.” Lol

Asking if anyone else came further afield than England, a male voice calls out “She’s fae Poland!” A lady a couple of rows in front of us had been pointed out by her bloke (I’m guessing). “Poland. Wow. What’s yer name, lovey? Yer gonna have one of them names, aren’t ya? Come on, tell us yer name.” “Zuza.” “Whaaa? Say again?” She repeats it. “Naw. It just sounds like ‘Susan’ to me. Whaaa?” She repeats and spells it. “Aye. okay. So, Zzzzuza, where ya fae noo?” “Prestwick.” “Are you just moving ta places round the world starting wit ‘P’?” Lol

The final bit of banter of the night and he returns to Chris. Talking about how the song “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” has been hijacked by the fitba fans when it was owned by the gays. So he challenged Chris to a dance-off. They’d dance to the song and if Chris’s moves were good enough, then the fitba fans were allowed to continue to use the song. 

Chris had the moves, I gotta say. He gave as good as he got anyway and was mighty brave to get up there and dance in front of hunners of folk. 

Such a fab, fab night. I bloody love Craig. I really do. I was so glad it was the first comedy gig back. To be back out there enjoying stuff like this, and I really couldn’t have asked for better starts to the return of these kind of things. A fabulous music gig and a fantastic comedy gig in the space of one week! Just like old times. Long may it continue – safely and wonderfully!

No footage from last night, but here is a video from years back just to show the calibre of last night’s show.

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.

The Seven Year Itch?

It’s been seven years. Seven years since I became that rabid “obsessive”. Seven years since the world of Simple Minds truly opened up to me. 

I was reminded of the fact of how…embedded in this new-found “obsession” I was by a post that appeared in my FB “memories” a couple of days back.

The memory in question was going to see Nana Mouskouri at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The memory was a reminder of how wonderful that new-found obsession felt. How much I loved discovering those treasures and being floored by them and truly just not being able to get enough of them. Devouring the music greedily and just playing stuff again and again and again and wondering if I would EVER tire of listening to them. 

I worry that, over time, the love for Jim has vastly overtaken the love for the band, and for the music. It was already strikingly obvious that was probably happening in 2018 over the whole “real fans” affair and my blocking from the band FB page.

Years passed and it never seemed to get old. If anything I would get incrementally more and more obsessed. When I was out in Oz with mum in 2015/16, the music was my comfort and solace at night. I was petrified of being at my mum’s house at night. It felt like the most unsafe place to be. The only way I found I could settle myself down and try and get to sleep was to play Simple Minds on Spotify. Play them on shuffle mode. Just…the sound of the music, the sound of Jim’s voice. Sometimes I would play some interviews as well. The interview Jim had with Billy Sloan – that was a recent discovery then, and I played it often when I was out in Oz. It soothed me – and it would make me happy and also would make me cry too, because he’s being “just Jim”. Just this normal guy talking to his pal. And the thing I’d play the most – the bit of it I’d play most is this bit (it should autoplay from the correct point – if not 3min 16sec mark) – his laugh. It is just the most beautiful sound in the world to me.

The memory of that Nana Mouskouri gig reminded me how absorbed in the band and the music I was. Thinking about that coach journey home from London and listening to that Spotify shuffle mix and Boys From Brazil coming on and being in love with it! The song. The music! The lyrics. Astounded by what I was hearing. Even though I celebrate my fan anniversary on Jim’s birthday – it was closer to the end of July in 2014 when I started listening to their back catalogue intently. So by the Mouskouri gig I am maybe 8 weeks into my fandom, at most!

I haven’t felt compelled to write a post out like that and share it on SMOG for…I don’t know how long! Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call posts aside (which were just links to blog posts) – it’s been several months since I had posted like that on SMOG – probably not since sharing my mocked up mural of Jim on there. 

I think because…I’m missing it. I’m missing that joy of being a fan that is starting to erode away. The Sons/Sister 40th Anniversary pulled some of that into focus, on a personal level. But on the flip side, I am feeling quite cut off and set adrift.

Apart from SAF/SFC and bootlegs from around 1981/1982, I haven’t really been listening to too much Simple Minds at all lately. As the years of my fandom went on, I used to wonder if I would ever tire of listening to them as intently as I have done all these years. Worried what it would mean for me if that time ever came. I was never sure it ever would. A couple of times it did happen for brief periods…but it was mostly a kind of “forced circumstance” thing. Like with the “real fans” episode. When that was happening, I found it hard to listen to anything. After a time I could listen to early stuff but I couldn’t listen to later stuff. To Walk Between Worlds. It was all too attached to Jim. 

I’m worried I’ve grown tired of listening to the music. Even things I really love! Albums I really love like Empires And Dance. I’ve been looking through Spotify over the past week or so and I am finding myself thinking “Do I *want* to listen to Simple Minds? Aw naw, you’re good”, kind of thing. Then I think “well maybe I’ve just grown a bit weary of the studio stuff…what about a bootleg?” and I’ll look at my list of bootlegs and think equally “Aw, naw. You’re good.” It’s kind of terrifying me because I have never actually felt like this!

I’m worried I am too deeply entrenched into attaching my feelings for the music with other things. The vibe from the fanbase. The vibe from Jim. I mean…I’ll love Jim for as long as a summer’s day. Never seem to tire of him (though I really should – for sanity’s sake). Lord knows he probably wishes I’ll fuck off and leave him alone. I can’t erase that feeling as it is no doubt true. Either that, or he really doesn’t give a shit either way. I don’t know which feeling is the worst to grapple with – dislike or indifference?

And I wish there was some news or just SOMETHING coming along! It’s a long wait until March! Not from this point in time – but from the time the wait has started. And I know Simple Minds have taken breaks like this in the past – but they haven’t been forced upon them, or us as fans. With gigs and the music industry starting to get back on its feet now, the lack of anything from SMHQ feels like a gaping chasm! 

Was it just me that found it highly ironic in Jim’s post about (potentially) having tea with Colin Hay last week that he mentioned watching Hay’s online gigs? I mean, really? Talk about rub it in, right?! To be fair – I have watched only one of these kind of gigs – a Field Music one, and it suffered technical problems, so it isn’t something that overly appeals to me. And I am guessing, and had guessed from very early on that the idea of this kind of thing didn’t appeal to Jim much and that SM fans had a snowball’s chance in hell of seeing anything like it from them. Fair enough. I wasn’t going to push the argument. But where was the imagination? Where was something that said, “well, we could do THIS!”, etc?! So, we got a little performance for Christmas – for charity, so that was great, and some Spotify playlists from Jim until he escaped his Glasgow lockdown prison? And I KNOW they’ve been working, so…why not throw us something from those sessions? Why not? In the meantime we get reschedule after reschedule and the Oz/NZ fans get a full tour cancellation. 

Jim…can you not appreciate how disheartening it has been for us?! Is loyalty NOT a two-way street? It is great to have you at least corresponding with more regularity. But this is why I felt so disheartened at seeing your reply to Colin Hay last week. It shows you’re looking at the band FB page and if you are looking – why not engage with us more?! 

We love you and we’re missing you. We’re missing seeing you live. And it seemed like you were going to start engaging with us again. A post back in early August titled “White Hot Days” seemed to show a little bit of interactivity with a couple of fans and I thought, “Oh, he’s back! He’s really back!” And, as I say it’s been great that you’ve been posting more of late, but…

Anyway…I’m pissing in the wind. As if you visit here and will see any of this anyway. 

I’m scared that my passion is waning. That my love for this band is dying out. I mean, surely this is the death knell, right? When you no longer feel that compelled to listen to the music any more? 

Do I still ogle Jim? By heck I do! Do I listen to him talk? Listen to interviews and watch videos? The interviews, yes! The music videos…sometimes. 

This is genuinely the first time I have felt this…waning in the passion of listening to the music. For the past week listening to anything else but Simple Minds. 

I had been through a similar thing with David Bowie. Before Simple Minds, Bowie was my “go to” for everything. And I listened to him A LOT…and it waned when they came along. I listened to Bowie less because I had SM. But now I barely listen to either of them.

That memory of Boys From Brazil on the coach ride home is such a wonderful, special memory. I don’t want creating new memories like that to come to an end.

“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

Minds Music Sunday – Sweat In Bullet – SAF/SFC 40th Anniversary Celebration – ANNIVERSARY DAY!

The allure of repetition manifests itself most strongly within all of the Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call’s tracks in Sweat In Bullet. Three solid blocks of repetitive text from Jim Kerr, with a vocal performance to match. 

This is the most Burroughs-esque of all of Jim’s writing from the period. If you are not familiar with William Burroughs’ writing, let me explain. In much of his writing, Burroughs used the “cut-up technique” in which lines of existing, linear text are cut up and rearranged to create new lines of (linear?) text. It’s also a style of writing that David Bowie experimented with in his songwriting quite often during the early to mid 1970s. 

I hear a lot of that influence falling heavily upon Jim’s songwriting in the early years. In fact it couldn’t fail but do so, given the way Jim would gather his ideas – jotting down lines of text…words and phrases that caught his attention or piqued his interest at any given moment. That writing style couldn’t help but mould into a more Burroughs-esque form of songwriting. 

By all accounts, even from his own accounts, Jim’s notebook was never far away from him, and he was always writing things down.

The first words in the song aren’t even actual proper words – just Jim playing around with the sound of words as you would expect him to do.

Jim Kerr interviewed by Lynn Hanna for NME, published December 4th, 1982

Among the quote above, the one thing that stands out for me is him saying he “feels” the words rather than “thinks” them. Well, not even the words are “felt”. But obviously his lyrics (at that point) come to him very organically and via the visceral rather than the intellectual.

I think we as fans – well, certainly me personally – give his lyrics much more thought and significance than he ever sounds like he did (or does). Perhaps because (for him) you need a level of detachment when you create? By the same token, his writing is obviously also very personal because of the process of it being “felt rather than thought”. So the detachment has to come once he’s written the song. Like watching fledglings leave the nest, or children leaving home to start off on their life’s adventure. 

Then we are free to interpret them and give them as much or as little significance as we like. And perhaps after some time of reflection, perhaps even Jim himself sees things and interprets things in his words that even HE didn’t see at the time of writing? Am I the only person to find this absolutely fascinating?

Jim Kerr interviewed by Lynn Hanna for NME, published December 4th, 1982

Upon reflection, having him talk about aspects of his writing style, I don’t think there is much of a Burroughs style to his writing. Jim’s is more organic than that.

I’d like to ask Jim his views on the Burroughs “Cut-up” technique – but the time for questions seems to have long gone by. Stuck in history’s “halcyon days”. 

Anyway, what does one do to a song to remix it and give it a new flavour? ADD MORE COWBELL! Lol. So…what exactly happened at the mixing desk there with Pete Walsh at the helm for the Sweat In Bullet extended mix? Something akin to this, perhaps? Click HERE TO VIEW

And with the official video, the cowbell features prominently as Kenny gives it a good bash (and the cowbell! Boom boom!) by the shrubs. 

The Sweat In Bullet video is a bit more of a stock music video of the time. It doesn’t have the storyboard that its “sister” video, Love Song has, that’s for sure! But I think that makes it more sophisticated. The guys all look amazing in it – although I guess it could be argued that Jim lets the side down with his dodgy eye. And…how frigging skinny is he?! Oh my word!

Back to the song itself. It was one of the first of the songs written in 1981 in Edinburgh and was demoed at CaVa Studios on Valentine’s Day. Originally titled Twenty One – which I find odd as there is nothing within the lyrics of the song to denote why it would be called that. Subsequently though, it helped me to decipher a line Jim sings in Life In Oils, as I am almost certain now Jim sings the words “twenty one” before he gets to the “chorus” in Life In Oils. Which then makes me think Life In Oils should have been called Twenty One (ah, to be able to go back in time and quiz Jim on such things). Click HERE for demo version.

Shortly after its demo recording, it became a main feature in the setlist, long before the album and its single release. Its debut performance was at Tiffany’s in Glasgow on March 1st, 1981 (click HERE to listen) and it moved on into the New Gold Dream tour as well. And there its time on the setlist ended for 20 years until it reappeared on the Alive and Kicking tour of 2003. Latterly it appeared on the 5×5 Live tour 0f 2012 – so come the recommencing of Simple Minds touring in 2022, it will have been another 10 years since the song has been seen on the setlist.

So, what exactly *is* Sweat In Bullet about? Given that the song starts as a seemingly random set of words, is there any story behind the song? Well, it’s obviously a song about ambition – a topic that features heavily in Jim’s lyrics at the time. But there’s more going on than that. It seems to be ambition from the female perspective. 

A chance encounter – “you’ll never meet again”.

Suspicion from both sides, perhaps as rivalry – “eyes small”.

The matriarchy rules – “society can gain”

Like ships in the night  – “then say goodbye”

Mission. Motion.

It seems to get a bit heated at one point “rolling and tumbling, ambition in motion” – it always sounds like a sexual dalliance has taken place – “rolling and tumbling, she’s sweating bullets”. 

A sexual dalliance and a power struggle? “Grow in size. Grow in fame. Grow more. Take more. Uncontrollable. Unworkable.”

It almost sounds like espionage. Two spies meeting. Female and male. Secret encounters and sexual espionage. But…who wins? Who outmanoeuvred who?

The two prevailing subject themes of the time in Jim’s songwriting join forces here and meet in the chorus – “ambition in motion”. Movement. Travel. Aims. Goals. The fear of the still and the stagnant and the bland. But conversely, he needs that stillness and monotony to create.

Matched with those lyrics is just…the funk of it! Derek Forbes’s bass is NASTY (as is GOOD), add Mick’s keyboard hook and Charlie’s guitar licks and that cowbell and – what a track!

This is a favourite live version of mine.

And so here we are – 40 years after its release on September 12th, 1981 – having gone through every track on the albums, one by one…I am left completely in awe of what Brian, Mick, Derek, Charlie and Jim achieved with these albums. Both albums are a sonic masterpiece in my eyes (and ears). I hope the posts I have generated about all the tracks on the albums have  truly reflected that feeling. 

I have drawn in content for my Sons/Sister posts from many sources over the six months, from the music magazines that the quotes from Jim have been sourced from – Melody Maker, Sounds, New Musical Express, Record Mirror, New Sounds New Styles, Smash Hits, The Face and Roadrunner magazines – YouTube for interviews, the use of photos by Virginia Turbett, as well as Malcolm Garrett – who not only allowed me to share certain artwork images but also provided amazing insight into some of the artwork used for the releases (the cover of Sweat In Bullet a case in point – you can read about that artwork HERE), thanks also to Jaine and David Henderson for help with what ended up being the biggest and wordiest post of them all for Love Song, but biggest debt of gratitude HAS to go to Simon Cornwell and his AMAZING Dream Giver Redux website at: simpleminds.org

Without Simon’s website, none of this would ever have come to fruition or be the celebration of the albums it has been. I put a lot of work into my blog but it pales into insignificance compared to what Simon has put into Dream Giver Redux. It literally IS the Simple Minds “Bible”.

I also want to thank Gordon Machray whose support and unflinching loyalty to the band is something to be revered. If I dare bring up the whole “real fan” business again and give it the creedence Jim was trying to give it – well, there’s your real fan right there! I’m not sure I actually know anyone else who is as impassioned as G Man (as he has been affectionately called by me for some years now). Gordon’s support of me is greatly appreciated. 

Lastly, to all of you who have taken the time to read these posts over the past six months, thank you!

Minds Music Monday – Careful In Career – SAF/SFC 40th Anniversary Celebration

The first thing I love about this song is…the two keyboard notes that intro it – sitting on top of another single note. Then the subtle building of the tempo with the kick drum beats. Then the snare comes in with the bass guitar quickly following. Then there’s Charlie Burchill…wailing guitar maestro. 

Then…the pièce de résistance … Jim Kerr and that incredibly nuanced vocal performance of his. The way he just … elongates the lyrics and adds another layer of depth to them as a result. I find it almost chilling but sonically delicious.

It was one of the earlier songs written for the Sons/Sister albums right at the beginning of 1981. It was recorded as a demo (listen above) and had the working title of “Check Out”.

After the demo recording in February, it quickly got put on the setlist for a live performance that was captured at Tiffany’s in Glasgow on March 1st, 1981 (listen HERE). The one and only time that the song was ever performed live. Why it never made any kind of return to the setlist for 2012’s 5×5 Live tour remains completely perplexing to me. I guess it was simply the case that with a tracklisting as extensive as there is from the Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call albums – something had to miss the cut. I think it would have been a perfect fit for Jim’s voice now and I’d have loved to have heard him do those long, protracted vocalisations of the words. To quote the song, “It’s a shame.”

At the demo stage the lyrics weren’t much more than the repetition of the words “careful”, “career” and  “take care”, with some strange sounding whoops and hollers and unearthly drawn out calls of “walk”. Still wonderfully atmospheric and definitely worth a listen, if for nothing else than to appreciate just what the song progressed into. 

I’m including an interview with Jim in this post. One he did for Radio One with Richard Skinner (not Kid Jensen as the wording at the end of the clip suggests) – almost 40 years to the day, in fact. Jim mentions that they’ll be playing the Futurama gig the following night so that dates the interview as September 5th, 1981.

In it, Jim talks about the “trance” musical theme that the Sons/Sister albums seem to end up developing over their recording. No stronger example of this than a track like Careful In Career.

I think the thing that astounds me is when Skinner says to Jim “I’m surprised at your longevity.” The band had been going less than four years by this point. FOUR YEARS! And Richard Skinner is talking about being SURPRISED at the band’s longevity?! Well, here we are, 40 years to the day still talking about what a phenomenal body of work the Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call albums are. Not only that but also that there is new music from Simple Minds in the bag and set to be released some time in the near future! Now THERE’S longevity for you, Richard Skinner!

Richard Skinner sounds like all he takes from the albums is darkness and gloom and a Joy Division-esque “dystopia”. But there is rarely a track like that on Sons/Sister for me. I think it really is only the end tracks on Sister Feelings Call – League Of Nations and Careful In Career that give off that kind of dark atmosphere. 

But even within something like Careful In Career you have lines like “performance or ecstasy” and “I’ve come so far already” – positive affirmations rather than anything negative that lines like “It’s a shame to go away/It’s a shame to die already” bring with them. I find such beauty in how dark it is, actually. I guess it’s that point Jim was making in that interview extract I added to my Seeing Out The Angel post, when he spoke of the inspiration for the song, the reading of the short story that sparked the lyrics and of the “beauty in fear”. 

And so here we are in the present day with just one week to go before the anniversary date of September 12th (coincidentally it will be my eldest brother’s 63rd birthday), with just one song left to post about – Sweat In Bullet, released as the final single from the album in…well, it says on Dream Giver that the single was released in November, 1981, but I recently read a Virgin press release from the time seeming to state that the single was released in October 23rd, 1981. Either way, there is no need for me to wait until these dates and so I’ll be wrapping up my track-by-track celebration of Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call with a Minds Music Monday finale that will be “rolling and tumbling” in celebration! 

On a final personal note, the art piece I did for Careful In Career (pictured above) remains one of my favourite pieces. I love the photo of Jim (I still have no idea who the photographer is – or whether it is even an actual photograph or a still image from a video) and I love how I set out the topography of the lyrics. The colour blending too. I rarely actually give myself any esteem for my work but for a change I am going to here. I’ll make an exception of usually shitting all over my own work by saying that my Careful In Career piece is the kitties whiskers!

It has been a short MMM this week again – but believe me, we’ll be going out with a bang! And I have some pretty exciting news to come in the next week with further Sons/Sister celebration news. Stay tuned, peeps!