Paris Review – Part Two: ‘Song Please!’

Picking up where I left off from yesterday…

I didn’t really say too much about the actual soundcheck. And I can only remember two of the songs that were performed – Hypnotised (seemed pretty apt for me! Lol) and The Walls Came Down (which Jim said will be on the new album coming out). It all sounded great to me…as soundchecks go. Jim always feels the need to prefix it all with an apology of it sounding echoey and stuff. 

After that kind of engagement I always feel…a whole mix of emotions. I don’t even know anymore what the overriding feeling is? Relief? Joy? Overwhelmed? Emotionally shattered? I can feel both overwhelmed to be there and simultaneously feel as though I have no place…no right to be there. Happy…I think. Happy and grateful. Ever so grateful. 

I WAS PARCHED! 

It was 6pm and so we decided to try and grab something to eat and drink. We were able to do a little cheat (shh!) – I felt a little guilty for this, but hey – why not? The only thing that couldn’t be altered with the whole Paris show was the seats we had – which was fine. I had bought the best seats I could get as soon as Paris was on sale anyway, so it wasn’t like we were going to be stuck waaaaay at the back. The VIP treatment continues for the punters with actual VIP tickets and because we’d been in there for the experience, we were given little cards to be fast tracked through the queue when coming back to the venue for the gig itself. We really shouldn’t have got those as we were in standard seats – but I was sssooo thankful we got given them all the same. It meant we didn’t really have to get back to the venue TOO early and it would give us time to get a bit of a recharge.

We found an Italian place just back over the bridge, five minutes away from La Seine Musicale. It was teeming with people but there still seemed to be space and seats available. We were about to walk off just to check the few places a little further down the way when I could hear Don’t You (Forget About Me) being played through their sound system. Very canny ploy of theirs because it got Birdy and I to stop and rethink. Then a waiter stopped and looked at us like…are ya coming in or what? In we went! Birdy had a G&T and I had a non-alcoholic Bora Bora mixer, consisting mostly of pineapple and grenadine. We shared bruschetta. The Simple Minds music continued while we dined in Cafe Seguin – Alive And Kicking, Promised You A Miracle, New Gold Dream, all tunes I remember overhearing while there.

With a little time left we decided to take our VIP merch bags back to the hotel. The location of the hotel could not have been better. The only thing I didn’t like was crossing the couple of intersections we needed to cross when walking to/back from the hotel. French traffic is sssooo bad – and pedestrians don’t feel very high on your average French driver’s concerns. The crossings are marked on the road, and doubled up with red/green men – but even with a marked crossing and a green man you still have to check and double check that no one is wanting to bomb around the corner and knock you down. French roads, and Parisian roads in particular, scare the crap out of me!

We made it back to the hotel and then back to the venue in one piece. We were back at La Seine Musicale at 7.30pm and got fast tracked through to our seats. Birdy was convinced we were seated over to the side several rows back, whereas I thought we were going to be the same number of the rows back, but right bang in the front central block. I was right. Those front blocks of seats weren’t incrementally elevated though – they were all flat which meant not the clearest view of the stage but geez – I was more than happy enough where I was. 

We arrived when Roxy’s Love Is The Drug was playing. There is a song in the pre-show playlist that I HAVE to find out who it is by! I should have recorded a bit of it, but I didn’t think to do so. Damn! It’s bugging me! I like the song but have no idea who it’s by.


As the time gets towards 8pm, I find myself listening out for the opening piano chords to So May We Start? That’s when it all kicks in for me – SHOWTIME! That song instils such a buzz within me now. 

On Friday night it started…about 90 seconds later the band started walking out onto the stage. The crowd erupts. Full cacophonous joy by the time Jim appears and everyone is up off their seats – OMG! Act Of Love is SUCH a fantastic opening song! Those three songs just hit you like a freight train! Act Of Love, I Travel and Celebrate…just the most fantastic opening trio. I feel like a sicko for every time only recording Celebrate but I just want to get every conceivable different way Jim can deliver the “she rag doll / keeps him warm” line. He didn’t disappoint in Paris. “She’s just keeping him warm.” Is that all she’s doing? Really? That’s rather unfortunate for her if so….(She’s doing much more than that in my mind, that’s for sure! Lucky ‘doll’!)



There wasn’t much of a pit stop after that. A bit of banter from Jim, if memory serves me correct. Then on to Glittering Prize followed by, for me, the best version of Promised You A Miracle I’ve experienced in a while (Jim got the words right!!!! AMAZEBALLS! I’ve got over the one bugbear I had left of him saying ‘belief is the only thing’ rather than ‘belief is a beauty thing’ – but verses all in order and word perfect. AMEN!). I adored it!

I fall more and more in love with this particular arrangement of Book Of Brilliant Things with each performance of it. I can’t tell you how much I didn’t take to that whole ‘five to one/one to five’ line when I was first a SM diehard. But now….it’s just a perfect thing. It’s a rocking gospel. Sarah just SLAYS it every time. And her and Jim performing on it together is PERFECT! And I now love the ‘five to one/one to five’ line – because I think the thing that killed it for me was the words that followed; ‘dynamite and swings’…never liked that…but I loooooove the ‘with all the love she brings’ line. It’s just…sublime now. It’s incredible. I feel like I can take on the world after each performance of it. 

Hunter And The Hunted was, as ever, grand. Also loved how wonderfully soulful Mandela Day sounded on Friday night. Best performance of that song I’ve ever experienced also. Belfast Child also was exemplary.


I was thankful for the break in the set I tell ya, because I was knucking fackered! Lol. Equally I didn’t want it to stop. 

Soon after, the gang were back out on stage, minus Jim and Sarah, for a fab version of Theme For Great Cities. I took some footage of the lights hitting the crowd but the filming went a bit skewed. I’ll have to see if I can fix up the aspect ratio before posting. 

Dolphins I love…but I still don’t know where it should be in the set…wherever it is placed it just…I don’t know. Belfast Child is in a great place within the set, so is Speed Your Love To Me – but Dolphins? I am still finding it a little jarring. We get hyped up again from the start of the second set and the playing of Theme For Great Cities to then be brought down by Dolphins. We’re brought back up again with Waterfront so that’s grand. I guess Dolphins is now kind of in the best place it can be. It cannae OPEN the second set…so…

The rest of the set is faultless. I managed to make myself completely hoarse singing along – by the time we got to New Gold Dream my voice was all but gone. After all the ‘la la la la’s of DYFAM, I could barely conjure up the remaining la’s for New Gold Dream. Lol

Jim – bless you! I think you tried to sing the lines in Sanctify Yourself correctly. It seemed as though you made an attempt to, but ‘it wisnae happening’ so you went to your fallback position of … some lines out of order (and repeated) are better than no lines at all (girly!)

I’m not sure when it happened but towards the end…probably with a bit of time to pause during Let It All Come Down or Speed Your Love To Me, the realisation hit me that this would be my last arena gig on this tour and all I could think about was wishing I could do this forever and ever. 

Lemme see yer hauns

People ask me – those outside the fandom mostly – why do I go to so many shows on a tour? ‘Aren’t they all the same’? Not really. In some ways, yes…but it isn’t really down to the performance of the band as such, and what you get from observing them – it’s what you get from being there, the taking part. Being surrounded by like minds (no pun intended)…and the way the music makes you feel personally. It’s a life-affirming thing and I wish to god I could go to EVERY SINGLE GIG, EVERY NIGHT – because there is no other feeling like it. Nothing else compares. That’s what it is! That’s what has me going to gig after gig – that…injection! It’s incredibly uplifting. I never really appreciated that until this band – until Jim would talk about it in those terms – not as a performer but as a member of the crowd. As a music lover. As a concert-goer. I realise with the more gigs I go to, the more the live music experience is not just about seeing a musical performance. 

At the end of it, I felt like I had probably seen the BEST Simple Minds concert I have ever been to. Was it their actual best performance? Certainly particular songs, for me, were performed to their best on Friday night. Was it the best sound? It was great. I would say it was second best to Glasgow. I still can’t believe I’m saying the Hydro had the best sound – but it truly did! Olivier Gerard works magic! 

Sadly I missed out on the only other souvenir I’d have liked. Speaking of GG, as I just did, I was hoping for a setlist but I was beaten to it. Doesn’t matter. I have enough. And it is always lovely to catch up with GG. To extend words of thanks to him. He’s a lovely man.

I was PARCHED! I think Birdy wanted to wet her whistle also. We met up with Marc Lichtenstein and Christophe Remacle afterwards and headed round to Seguin Sound for some refreshments. And those two reprobates were there (see Part One). Thanks once again for the wonderful, kind things you both said to me. It was a pleasure to meet the both of you. I hope I’ll have the pleasure of bumping into either of you again at future gigs. It was also a pleasure to meet both Marc and Christophe.

Looking just like the hagged old fat bag of shit I feel like. But from a distance it (meaning me) looks okay.

Back at the hotel, I had my earplugs, yay! But I hardly slept a wink anyway. But it didn’t matter half as much this time. I was too overjoyed to care. I had minimal sleep. Could have done with knowing check out was at midday, rather than the 10am I thought it was! Oh, well.

The day was cooler on Saturday. We had time after check-out to go and have some lunch then get a taxi to the airport for the flight home. We decided on Cafe Seguin again. Birdy had a Sicilian salad, and I had a vegetarian risotto. It was absolutely beautiful! Cafe creme is my jam! I want to live in Paris just for cafe creme! The French do the best coffee I have EVER tasted – and it’s consistently good, no matter where you go. 

There’s not much else to say but…Thank you! To the best band in the entire universe! I’m coming up to 8 years as a ‘diehard’ Simple Minds fan (in the best fashion – stealing Jim’s birthday as my fan anniversary date) – and it’s been such a rollercoaster. But the ups happen way, way, WAY more than the downs. I will be counting down to Blenheim Palace – June 18th – I will be there, I will be there, I will be there!

Next gigs to come? Jimmy Webb in Edinburgh on June 3rd, followed by Crowded House at the Hydro on June 10th.

Paris Review – Part One: The Long Story? Or The REALLY Long Story?

I guess it’s best to start with the really long story and edit it from there… so may I start?

I slept soundly enough Wednesday night and into Thursday. Probably didn’t settle down quite as early as I should have, but at least sleep wasn’t elusive that night and I got a good few hours in. All things considered, considering how absolutely pent up, anxious and full of dread I was – on the actual day of our departure I was sailing with low level optimism. Low level, granted…but with optimism nonetheless. Albeit, on a scale from 1 to 10, it was maybe a 2 or a 3…it was there at least!

I packed a small carry-on bag, making sure I had ALL essentials (earplugs included!). I showered relatively early and was ready by 11am. Birdy was ready an hour later. I decided we should get the 75 to Renfrew Street and just walk down to Killermont Street to the bus station instead of the faff of getting to the bus station from Queen St. I was worried I made the timings a bit ambitious from the time of getting off the train at Queen St to getting to the bus station for the Edinburgh Air coach. So…the 75 seemed the better option. All good. Had a chat with neighbour Robert (who was taking his dug, wee Chico, for a walk around the park space by Hawthorn Quadrant) while waiting for the 75 to arrive. 

Got to the bus station in plenty of time. Got to Edinburgh Airport in good time as well. We arrived around 2.45pm for a 6.30pm flight out. Had the usual stuff go on at security. I didn’t take all the liquids that I was required to out of my bag and I was wearing stuff that triggered the security alarms. I had to be body searched and portably scanned with a handheld scanner. Birdy went through similar stuff but it’s always to be expected at any UK airport. We had time on our side. It was all grand. 

Next hurdle – boarding – not a hitch! The plane departed slightly later than scheduled but we landed in Paris on time. It was a very smooth journey on the plane. Last hurdle. French border security! All good! 

Actually, that was the penultimate hurdle. The last hurdle was ‘le taxi’! Birdy had booked a taxi via Booking.com and…short story, the driver didn’t greet us at arrivals but was waiting for us at departures! I know, right?! Anyway…it was sorted. We found our driver and off we went. French traffic is APPALLING! It was 10.10pm on a Thursday evening and the roads were just HEAVING…everywhere. From the moment we left the airport right until we got into the Boulogne-Billancourt area of Paris where the hotel was…nearly the whole taxi journey was a slow crawl through heaving traffic. A lot of stationary moments. 

I finally could breathe a sigh of relief once we arrived at the hotel just on 11pm. I should have had Birdy pinch me! Lol. I couldn’t believe that it all actually went pretty damn smoothly and there were no big hazardous snags to have to deal with. WE WERE IN PARIS! And I was going to see the most amazing band in the whole universe the following day. 

Not sure what time it was that we bedded down, possibly just after midnight? Not too late anyway. We were both knackered. I quickly realised after laying down that I forgot to get the earplugs out of the bag. I got up, tried to have a quick feel around to see if I could find them. Couldn’t remember exactly WHERE I had packed them and didn’t want to take the bag apart looking, so I just thought “Meh, I’m so tired anyway…I’ll get to sleep.” Well…upon reflection I wish I had pulled my bag apart trying to find the earplugs because … FUCK ME – the snoring! Jesus Christ! Birdy had NO TROUBLE AT ALL falling asleep. She was out like a light in minutes and then snoring like nobody’s business for the vast majority of the night. TWICE in a week I had been kept awake by birds serenading me – GIVE ME THE BLACKBIRD ANY DAY – the Yvonne Bird I wanted to chuck into the Seine! 

The worst ‘sleep’. The worst! I maybe got about two hours during the short lived silent pockets in which ‘el Birdo’ woke up for a while and wisnae snoring. Truly those pockets were short lived. 

We had breakfast at 9am. I have never been so thankful for coffee EVER. The hotel was great. Fab room. Great bathroom. Very affordable. A two-star place. Great reception staff, everything. Its only fault or let down was that there were no tea/coffee making facilities in the room. I was fucking GASPING by the time we got down to the dining area for breakfast. OMG! French coffee is MAGNIFIQUE!!! There was orange juice and yoghurt and a selection of bread and pastries – a small crusty bread roll, a small croissant and a pain au chocolat (which I took back to the room for later). I had two coffees. 


Back to the room after breakfast to shower and get ready for a little look about, maybe get some lunch or just find another place for yet ANOTHER coffee. We were a 15 minute walk from the hotel to the venue. We needed to cross the Seine via this footbridge (it took traffic too – but was being used primarily as a footbridge) which went over in quite the arch. It had a little area…like a decked area either side of it where you could just sit on and enjoy the spot. Couldn’t really take in much of a view if you sat down there. But it at least allowed you to take the view in without getting in the way of people wanting to cross the bridge.


The weather was GLORIOUS! Mostly sunny and around 23 degrees Celsius. I felt wonderfully warm. We had coffee and a sweet treat from a place by La Seine Musicale called ‘Seguin Sound’ – more cafe creme for me! I had a chocolate mousse thing with it which was divine! Then I realised with having to repack stuff for the trip I had to pack two very small bags to carry with me for all my ‘essentials’ – cash, cards, phone, reading glasses, distance glasses (I cannae do bifocals), lip balm…I forgot to pack the Sharpie I had in my carry bag into the ‘essentials’ bags. SHIT!!!

Views from the footbridge.

It was 2.30pm. I had time to get back to the hotel, grab it and come back before we started queuing for the ‘VIP’ experience. I wanted to make sure we were there right on 3.30pm because I knew I’d be having to explain to someone the whole circumstances of why I was there and didn’t actually have VIP tickets…ya da ya da. Made it back to Birdy waiting for me at Seguin Sound at around 3.15pm. Phew! I was feeling a little flustered, though I tried to pace myself getting back to the hotel to get the Sharpie and get back in time. 

As I thought…once at the front of the VIP queue I had the fun of trying to explain why I didn’t have VIP tickets but that I should be on a list and allowed in. The young woman at the door was very helpful and thankfully the organiser lady (who I now wish I had asked her name) for SJM Concerts knew who I was and knew the whole score and PHEW!!! Birdy and I were let in, given our merch bags and all was good. We took a seat over the way and I thought I spotted a familiar face – which I had…more of that (even if very briefly) later.


A few minutes tick by and I see the organiser lady walking towards us. “Guess what, Larelle? You have a question to ask.” Whaaaa?! Again? Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that. I just put questions in, hoping against hope. Never really expecting it. When it happened in Glasgow I just couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t that lucky with Newcastle though. I’d have loved it if Jim had answered that question for me. I left asking the question for the Paris gig until the last minute.  Wasn’t even sure what I was going to ask but then thought, well, I am an Aussie after all – I’ll ask JIm and Charlie what their fondest memory is of their early days touring Oz. Hoping against hope that I might get some hilarious anecdote from Jim. I remembered him years back  – early days of me being in the fandom –  posting on FB about the fun him and Charlie got up to at Kings Cross on their first tour. For those not so familiar with Sydney – Kings Cross had quite the notorious reputation – when I lived in Sydney, at least – full of nightclubs – also where the red light district is – the seedy side of the city – akin to Soho in London – underworld crime too. All of that. I just remember at the time of that FB post thinking “Yeah, I can well imagine you and Charlie getting up to all kinds of shifty stuff there!” I always reckon that’s why he’s wearing sunglasses and Charlie looks so wasted on that Countdown performance of Love Song. Clatty pair of stop-outs! Manky pups! Lol

So, no one was more surprised than me to be asking another question. And I was thinking “Oh, fuck! He is going to be ssoooooooooo tired of me!” GOING to be…? IS already! Has been for ages. The anxiety ramps up. 

Those of us asking questions are led together as a small group. I see one reprobate I know through the fanbase online that I had yet met face to face (you know who you are – if you’re reading this!) – we said hi. He introduced me to his mate – double trouble, really. Thank you – to both of you. You both said such lovely, wonderful things to me that I wasn’t expecting at all. Please know that those words meant so very much to me. I know that one of you said that you read my stuff – so if you’re reading this – thank you! (I’m smiling – even if it is through tears.)

The soundcheck was probably the most special one. I think Jim waved at me. I think. I never know for sure. Always questioning afterwards. Probably for someone behind me, beside me, above me…around me…anywhere else! For anyone else but me. When it came to asking my question, I couldn’t even look at him. Thank god for that sheet of paper – because I could just look down and pretend I was looking at that. Bless him – he got bogged down in talking about when they can tour Oz again. It has little significance for me personally. I gave up on the dream – of my own ‘holy grail’ of seeing them down there. I have accepted that, for me, it’s not meant to be and that’s fine. I’m glad for the Oz fans out there though that he addressed it and that Birdy filmed some of it and … yeah. “What was the question again?” Lol

Do you think I’m the biggest pest in the world? Do you dread seeing my face at every damn gig? Do you just pray that I’ll go away? …

And a million other questions if those three would be lucky enough to be answered with “no!”


Charlie was on the ball. God bless you, Charlie, you lovely, lovely man. 

The questions ended on a beautiful note. I feel blessed to have experienced what happened at this soundcheck. It was lovely. 

During the meet and greet that followed, myself and a fellow fan got chatting to Derek Paterson – Cherisse’s drum tech. Del’s a lovely man – nuts – but wonderful. The crew are so hard working! Such amazing people. 

Then I am there in front of modern music’s own Glaswegian version of Laurel and Hardy. Lol. Or perhaps it’s just Jack and Victor? Still not sure who’s who in that comparison. 

He says to me “Hello, Larelle. How are you?” – How long have you got? That’s NOT what I said, because my brain doesn’t work when I am in front of him and I can barely put two words together. So for want of any kind of great, catchy repartee with him, I say “Ooookaaay…I think.” Can’t remember exactly how he asked it but he asked how I was enjoying Paris, or had I been looking about, or some such….I think I said that we didn’t arrive until late the night before. At one point, I think it was after he said hello and asked how I was and I replied with my “oookaaay, I think”, he said to me (I think he said this…) “you’re quiet”. I wish I could have said “Oh, really…you think? Jim! Why would THAT be…I wonder?!” Lol. But obviously….I HAD NO FUCKING REPLY TO THAT! I wish I could say “Uh, derrrr!” I think that is probably the most rhetorical statement he could have EVER made! “Yeah, Jim Kerr…and bears shit in the fucking woods! And the Pope’s a Catholic!” I’m quiet.

I wish more than you will ever, ever know that I was this exuberant, bubbly, chatterbox…mouth going ten to the dozen…and YOU, James Kerr, wouldn’t get a word in edgeways…but that ain’t me – certainly never seems like it ever will be now when I am around you. That’s just how it’s now destined to be, it seems. Whatever minor bits of confidence I exuded some years back that was there within me sailed off long ago. And it was you that gave that to me! That confidence. But it’s disappeared now completely – whatever vestiges of it existed in the first place. 

A few snaps and…it’s all over. 

I did manage to make use of that all-important Sharpie and get the question sheet I had signed by Jim and Charlie (and Birdy got her lanyard signed). 

Nearly 2,500 words and we’re not even at the actual gig itself yet! This is the place where I am ‘chatty’, Mr Kerr. 

I have ssoooo much more to write…but I am KNACKERED. I am going to have to do this in two parts. Part two might not happen until tomorrow. But for now I need a break and I will post this as part one. 

Stay tuned! (If you haven’t tuned out already.)