Glasgow Weekender – Trevor Horn Gig – Saturday, July 27th – Part One

It was going to be a long day. I had set out from home at the ungodly time of 4.30am. Plenty of time to get myself to Luton station for the 5.08 train to St Pancras. That was the theory. The practice was different!

I arrived at Luton station around 4.45am. I looked to the screen for the timetable and see which platform my train was leaving from. In a rather tired state from such an early start it took a moment or two to register what I was seeing on the screen. All the trains going to London up til 5.40am (all that the screen was showing at that point) were cancelled. I stood there rather dumbstruck initially. And then the panic set in! It’s ticking towards 5.00am and I had to be at Euston station by 6.30 at the latest for my 6.36am train to Glasgow Central. WHAT THE HELL WAS I GOING TO DO?! It flashed through my mind “Well, short of getting a taxi into London that may or may not even get me there in time – AND cost me a small fortune – I’m pretty screwed. In fact, I’m probably not going!” I wanted to cry!

The thought of that…the thought of not going was breaking my heart. The only thing I could feasibly think of doing was getting in a taxi…but I knew it wouldn’t be cheap. I rang my partner and told her what was happening. “What do I do?” “Well…there isn’t much choice left. Take a taxi.” The first cab couldn’t take me as he wasn’t able to take card payments but thankfully the second driver could. “We will make it, won’t we?”, I say to him. “I’m sure we will. I will do my best.” As I’m settled in and we’re making our way to the M1 motorway he says to me “You know, you could have just flown to Glasgow.” Lol. I could have throttled him at that point. But I went on to explain that I booked the train because my passport had expired and although Luton to Glasgow is an internal domestic flight, I believed that a passport was still required. I subsequently learned that only photo ID is required and that even an expired passport (up to five years from expiration) is sufficient for internal domestic travel. Damn!

To my huge relief the motorway was largely clear of traffic and the rain wasn’t too heavy so the driver was able to go as fast as his traditional Hackney cab would allow. He dropped me at Euston at 5.49am. We made it in under an hour. I was stunned and relieved – and rather sad to be paying a £90 taxi fare! BUT…I had made it to Euston and in plenty of time before the train was due to depart.

The rest of the journey was relaxing and I arrived at Glasgow Central right on schedule at 11.59am. Approximately 10 minutes later, I found myself in Tantrum Doughnuts ordering two of them – a limited edition hazelnut blondie and the signature pistachio and hibiscus one. I also had a reviving latte.

The weather was a bit miserable when I arrived – dreich, as the locals are known to describe it. I wandered about a bit. Tried to keep dry. Then eventually made my way up to my accommodation for the night, hoping I’d be able to check in a little early and maybe get an hour’s sleep before the gig later on.

I head back down to the city centre at around 6pm, stopped in for a coffee at a cafe nearby the RCH, then went into the venue around 7pm.

I was starting to get quite excited by then. I know Mick had told me on FB that, of the Minds, only he would be there…but I couldn’t help but hope that maybe Jim had wanted to surprise even Mick by showing up at the last minute…either on his own or with Charlie.

I had a great view from my seat and the stage looked quite full so there was going to be quite a few people on the stage performing! The show started promptly at 7.45. Trevor arrives on stage to a warm and rousing round of applause. Once at the mic he says, “I’m 70 years old and this is my first solo headline tour.”

Musically, the show started with the biggest bang – an amazing version of Two Tribes, sung by “Roberto” (as Trevor kept introducing him through the night as) aka Kalon Rae. I don’t really watch TV these days so was unaware of him and his appearance on The Voice UK last year. He certainly nailed it! It was one heck of an opener that’s for sure and it set a standard for the rest of the night. Second song in was Trevor’s own Buggles composition of Video Killed The Radio Star. The next song – a Godley & Creme composition, Cry, came with the dawning realisation that the short man on guitar standing next to Trevor on his right was indeed Lol Creme himself! Kalon sang Cry but Lol himself sang the next number, a fab version of 10CC’s Rubber Bullets (Lol having written and performed it as part of the 10CC lineup, of course).

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And the hits just kept on a-coming. A photo of the setlist above. The wonderful Steve Hogarth sang It’s Different For Girls and Ashes To Ashes. A pair of wonderful female singers sang the “t.a.T.u” number All The Things She Said. One of them took the lead on Slave To The Rhythm.

It was back to Kalon for another Frankie tune – The Power Of Love, then Trevor himself sang the lead for Living In The Plastic Age, and Steve Hogarth again for I’m Not In Love – Lol Creme on piano for it – and Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

There was an interval of 15 minutes.

When the gig resumes, Trevor is delayed in his return. It becomes immediately obvious as to what the delay was when he comes striding back out in a sparkly jacket and A KILT. He is welcomed back out to cheers and a number of wolf whistles. Lol. He places his hands on the sporran at the centre of the kilt and says, “I have always wondered what these things were for…but now I know.” He opens it up and reaches in then holds his hand aloft. “Picks!”, he says, with a pick between his thumb and fingers. On we go into a fab version of Owner Of A Lonely Heart sung by Trevor.

Then the moment arrives. “While we are on a Scottish theme”, says Trevor, “I started visiting Scotland more in 1988. That’s when I started working with Simple Minds. I’d already been working with so many bands and artists by that point but I can say that working with Simple Minds, it was the first time I felt like I wasn’t working with a bunch of arseholes. They are great guys.” And then it becomes a little bit of a blur what else he said because I know Mick is about to appear on the stage, but I still remained hopeful that at the very last minute that Jim and Charlie would be there too. Sadly that didn’t happen, but I gave the loudest cheer as Mick walked on stage. To be there to see him play was all I needed to make my night.

I feel terrible that I didn’t catch the singer’s name but he was very good. And seeing Mick play was so very special. I recorded Brothers In Arms live on FB but stopped filming when Rhythm Of My Heart started. I just wanted to take it in properly and enjoy watching Mick perform. Kalon provided the vocals this time, and he was wonderful again.

A lovely understated female vocal ballad version of Dancing In The Dark was next. Not before Trevor relayed the story of his dealings with The Boss and how he’d asked permission to do Born To Run…bossa nova style. Lol

Another major guest performer in the shape of Argent’s Russ Ballard. Crowd sing-a-longs to Since You’ve Been Gone and God Gave Rock N Roll To You left the hordes on a high.

Great renditions of Girls On Film by the female vocalists, then it was Steve Hogarth again for Kiss From A Rose and Blue Monday, before a final Kalon led amazing crowd up-off-our-seats, clapping and dancing version of Relax.

A final encore of Money For Nothing and that was it. An amazing night was had by the vast majority of patrons in attendance. I certainly enjoyed it! It is a strong contender for “gig of the year” for me. Perhaps only being slightly pipped by Massive Attack at The Hydro back in January and Stewart Copeland at the Festival Hall in March.

As soon as I was back out on the street, I propped myself up by the stage doors. The only person waiting there initially. But then Phil Palmer and the man providing the vocals on Brothers In Arms and Money For Nothing came out for a cigarette and that got one or two people stopping, congratulating and thanking them for the gig. After about 15 mins, there was six other people waiting with me. About 45 minutes of waiting and Mick walks out through the stage doors. I get his attention “Hi, Mick.” When it registers with him who I am he says to me “THERE YOU ARE! I’ve been looking for you all night.” Aaww! What an utterly sweet thing to say! “So, you made it then?” A bag of nerves, I just said “Yes I did.” But in hindsight I’d say “Of course I did! I wouldn’t have missed this for the world!” We chatted briefly and then I asked him if he would be so kind as to sign my Life In A Day 7” picture sleeve and an original vintage print I have of Mick taken in Brussels in 1983 by Stefan De Batselier. He signed them both for me. We hugged and then he was on his way.

Oh no! I didn’t even get a photo with him! Mercifully one of the other people waiting had stopped him and asked if they could have their photo with him so that gave me the opportunity to ask. I tried to be Miss Appalling Selfie Taker (and was succeeding!) when the man with Mick said “I can take it if you like?” YES PLEASE! Lol. Save me from my selfie doom. Lol. And he really couldn’t have taken a more wonderful photo. It is just so, so lovely.

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It was a wonderful night.

I will discuss Sunday’s day of exploration tomorrow.

Why I Love…Changeling

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The dancefloor. Frigging hell! Did Simple Minds know how to fill it back in the day. I guess they still do to be fair.

But let us rewind back to 1979. Rockfield Studios in the Welsh countryside. Five young men from Glasgow are in the studio making the followup to their debut album. An album that really couldn’t be more different to the first. They are still just babies, with the average age of them being just 20. They are still very much learning their craft. Recording in the studio next door are none other than Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Could life get any sweeter?

Yes it could. These five young men band together and make one of the best dance tracks of the late 1970’s as you are ever likely to hear.

OKAY! I’ll be the first to admit that…given all the changes in lyrics that Jim Kerr has made in SM songs over the years…esp. early on (he would rewrite songs entirely from demo to album recording), it’s quite a thing that there wasn’t a change made to the opening line to Changeling. I suppose that was the curse of there being no demos for Real To Real Cacophony. They went straight into recording.

The sticking point, lyrically, is that horrible propensity for snidey shits to take the mickey out of the opening line and continue to sing along to Wombling Free, which I’ve got to say…I don’t know what it does to Jim…but to me, it fucking pisses me off no end!

Perhaps we should concentrate on the musical structure of the song for now? Synths and bass opening with an instant dance hook. Drum grooves quickly follow and then a simplistic yet fab guitar riff. Industrial dance grooves. Fuck these boys were good at them! There’s nothing quite like this on Life In A Day. They hadn’t made a sound quite like this, yet…but boy does it signal the start of a very identifiable early “Simple Minds” signature sound. An aural “watermark”, if you will.

I really don’t know anyone who could listen to this track and not tap their feet or their hands and just get hooked in by the groove.

In spite of what the Arista execs hear at the UK HQ with Real To Real Cacophony in which they appear utterly dumbfounded, they do seem to make the right choice in having Changeling as the lead (but unfortunately subsequently ONLY) single off the album. How they didn’t then follow it up with Factory and Premonition is anyone’s guess. One can only assume they were already becoming concerned that SM was going to leak money hand over fist.

Changeling has no chart success, so one assumes that is why there are no other singles released from the Real To Real Cacophony album.

The failure of the single to chart can’t be down to it being deemed “not good enough” by the music consumer of the time? Just listen to it! Was it just overlooked from a then pretty flooded market? Singles at this point sold in their THOUSANDS every week. Albums had their importance then too, but the single was still king at this point. To the point where single picture sleeves were at their height. A single was packaged with as much of a visual selling point as an album was at this point in time. Every Simple Minds single released so far had been in a picture sleeve…Changeling being no exception. Did the picture sleeve “sell” the single? Hmmm…I’m unsure it did much. Life In A Day was certainly simplistic in its design, but it made an impact nonetheless. As for Chelsea Girl? She was on the mark. Jim was on the mark for wanting that Jean Shrimpton painting as the cover.

But for Changeling…I don’t know what a greyscale image of some hosepipe really tells you about the song. There’s a kind of industrial look to the cover, yes…but where I think the texture and simplicity of the Real To Real Cacophony album cover works to sell it (luring you in wondering what the hell this album is about as the cover actually gives NOTHING away by design) – that same simplistic approach falls flat for the Changeling single.

Back to the song itself. Let’s get back to those lyrics. Young Mr Kerr, what you on about, boy? Lol. For me, I gotta say that Changeling is a very rare beast in that it is all about the tune, the groove and not much about The Boy’s songwriting…for a change. I still love the words…but they mean fuck all. Lol. But hey….some of my absolute favourite Bowie songs are pure gobbledegook. The Burroughs technique has a lot to answer for, sometimes. I couldn’t write a song that means SOMETHING…let alone one that doesn’t really mean anything at all but sounds like it does anyway. And to me…that’s master craftsmanship.

In summary? In the simplest terms, it’s a dancefloor filler. Possibly Simple Minds’ first. At least one of the first, blazing a trail for more killers that follow…I Travel, Celebrate, This Fear Of Gods, Love Song, The American…the list goes on (and on and on 😜).

And that is why I love Changeling.

(PS: Jim can’t mime to save his life….but I bloody love him anyway!)

Why I Love … Today I Died Again

It’s that … cold war Europe sensibility and style it has. Actually, it’s more post-war (The Great War), 1930’s, really. It’s Christopher Isherwood Berlin. Not flappers and sharp-suited men…later…early 1930s….now more the time of “austerity” (and how relevant does it make this song now?!), mass unemployment – post Wall Street Crash and the Hoover Dam project and, In America, Roosevelt’s New Deal.

There’s an “austerity” to the song. The musicality of it. It starts slow and sparse. A very slow dum beat – echoey, long bending bass notes. And a very dreary, dour synth. There’s a bleakness to it. Lyrically, Jim sets up the scene, “the human drum beats a rhythm of life / the clothes he wears date back to the war”. Which war? In my mind, the Great War (WWI) – but most likely he means WWII – they are some mighty old clothes to be had for 1980, either way!

Moving on from those opening lines…the lyrics printed in the album’s sleeve have the next line as being “he talks a lot / often to himself” but it isn’t what Jim sings on the album. The line alters slightly…and brings you in more as a listener “you talk a lot / often to yourself”. Talking to oneself always deemed a sign of mental illness. “What’s the first sign of madness? You talk to yourself. What’s the second sign? You answer back!” So…who’s mad? The protagonist in the song? Or you, the listener?

With the imagery I get from early Simple Minds songs, in particular, it’s very prescient that Jim should use the line “paint me a picture” because it is exactly what his lyrics do for me. They paint me a picture. They create a whole scene, in fact. A whole little play. It varies from still images as a slideshow, an actual painting on its own, or a short movie.

He goes on “America can fall”. The love of Capitalism its fall? The Wall Street Crash? Was he prophesying the second crash that is to come in 1987?

The title itself…and the lines expressing it are the most curious. There’s really a strong expression of nihilism and even oppression in it…with little recourse of showing a way out – as the most optimistic of Simple Minds songs will convey. And as much as I draw strength from the upbeat and optimistic SM tracks…I can draw, if not out and out positivity from the more “dour” of SM tracks, I can gain a strength and a resolve from them all the same.

There’s a nostalgic look back to “better days” within the lyrics too. “Back to a year / back to a youth. Of men in church and drug cabarets” hence my feeling of the setting of the song, time wise, as being the 1930s. Namecheck for the album “is this the age of empires and dance? Oh, what a world…”

There is so much of this album that is “film noir”. I don’t think I will ever fall out of love with it.

The last 90 seconds of the song is just the culmination of all of its components. Jim’s title of the song hauntingly just bending and weaving and echoing. The instruments building on a crescendo…and that final 30 seconds in which Brian increases the pace of the beat with added lovely cymbal splashes. Just … mwah! Perfection.

And then we fade away and on into Celebrate (which I have previously tried to put into words as to why I love without using just the single word “PHWOAR!” to suffice. Lol)

If Today I Died Again was represented by a painting, it would be this (for me)…
It is titled “Self-Portrait with Model” (1916) painted by Erich Heckel. The very same artist whose work inspired cover art for the albums “Heroes” by David Bowie and The Idiot by Iggy Pop.

And that is why I love Today I Died Again.

Promised You A Sweat In Bullet Miracle

You know what? Well, I was worried about why I had been blocked from the Decade 77-87 Facebook page. And I was genuinely scratching my head wondering why the hell it would be that I was. Then this evening, with a new share of a Simple Minds video compilation they had put together, I realised what potentially may have caused it.

Last year they shared a clip of Factory from Folllies – the Belgian music show. When they shared the clip, they made the claim it was exclusive to them. But it wasn’t. It appeared just a day or two before on YouTube, and they clearly had just copied it off from there. And I said as much. So…if that is their gripe and why I was blocked from their page? Meh! I just told the truth.

Subsequently, that clip WAS taken down from YT and only their clip of Factory remains. (As a superior colour clip. There still is the inferior black and white clip on YT) One could argue they had the last laugh.

So…tonight, this new clip from them shows up! One of SM on Get Set For Summer in 1982. Jim looking UBER lush and beautiful (no apologies for my ovary exploding fangirling tonight). There are two parts to the clip. Them doing Promised You A Miracle – which I had NEVER seen before, and a snippet of them doing Sweat In Bullet – which I had seen before, in appalling quality, on Daily Motion (Daily Motion really is NOT the place for clips these days!).

So, seeing as it had appeared on the Decade FB page, I thought “Oh, there must be an original source on YouTube. Let’s have a look.” Lo and behold, there it was! It had been up there for seven months already. Damn!

Anyway, here’s the original, full YouTube clip. Promised You A Miracle starts at around the 11 minute mark. I skipped through the rest of the clip, wondering if the bit of footage I saw of them being interviewed was in it too – the one where Jim pretends to whack Peter Powell on the head with the microphone (should have done it for real, Sir!). No such luck. Not that I saw anyway.

There’s a curious thing around the 25 minute mark. They are interviewing some head huncho at the Grandstand studio about some sporting event being broadcast and I SWEAR for all the world it’s Steve Coogan – more fittingly – Alan Partridge. Except Coogan is only 16 at the time of the airing of this show, so it CANNOT be him. But, the voice and mannerisms are unreal!

Just watch it! Shortly after it is the Sweat In Bullet snippet.

Enjoy!

New Warm Skin – GMack Remix

It’s taken me a few days to get around to listen to this. I like it. It’s very expertly done. But…I kept waiting for my fix of the chorus to arrive. At least just one time! And…the best part of Mick’s synths are taken away as a consequence, because they lay behind Jim’s vocal in the chorus.

As much as I liked it, they took away the best part of the tune for me.

I mean, duh…I love the verses too (Kerr lyricist uber fangirl that I am) – but for me – the hit…the melodic FIX comes from the chorus, and the fade out repetition of “Is this a war? Is the is a god?”

Maybe one day I’ll have a go at one of these remix things myself. Lol. As if I’d be any good!

Might have been fun to have mixed the demo version to the full recorded studio version. Mix up some of Jim’s rewritten lyrics. Just a thought…

One Wish – Reimagined?

Today is the 30th anniversary of the release of Street Fighting Years…and I think I just ended up exhausting myself with having interviews for Life In A Day to try with more.

I couldn’t bring myself to ask Bruce for more time. As it was he started to worry I wanted to go though every single Simple Minds album with him. Lol. So…I just couldn’t bring myself to ask for one last interview session for a SFY retrospective.

The only others really relevant to it are Mick, Jim and Charlie…Mel too, I guess…and there are a few others. Trevor Horn…

And on that note! Minus any post Jim may do about the anniversary of SFY (I’ve got to say, I am actually STUNNED there is no box set release to coincide with the anniversary….but perhaps along with the Rejuvenation sets and RSD ltd ed. Graffiti Soul release, it was all deemed too much?) – I would DREAM of a reveal of he and Charlie being Trevor Horn’s special guests at the “Reimagines” gigs in July. At least the Glasgow one.

One can but keep dreaming, I guess…