The two Edinburgh shows are less than two weeks away now and thoughts are turning to the New Gold Dream anniversary. I’m going through a lull right now with listening to them. I know! It’s all a very sad state of affairs, isn’t it? For nearly 8 years I listened to them every single day. EVERY DAY – FOR HOURS! Now I am lucky if it is once or twice a week. Natural ‘burn out’?
To be fair, it isn’t just them. I don’t know when the last time I listened to a Bowie album was either. And he was my be all and end all before the SM flame was (re)kindled.
In thinking about NGD and wanting something to listen to a few nights ago, I checked through my list of bootlegs and this one most appealed. The only way I am ever going to experience them ‘back home’ is a fantasy nostalgia trip…dreaming of a fun anecdote that I wish Jim had shared with me at the Paris soundcheck.
For me, Hunter And The Hunted and King Is White are highlights at this gig. Room ain’t bad either…
Roll on August 12th and 13th. (Incidentally, Aug 12th has significance to me…it’s my mum’s birthday. Ironically, she’d have been turning 84…passing away when she was 81.)
I listened to this last night (see link at the end of post). Wow! OMG – the Swedish crowd at this place LOOOOVE them! They just love them! It’s on a par with listening to a Glasgow gig for audience reception.
It’s a gig recorded from the crowd so the quality varies. Jim is not always super clear but the sound from the music is good enough. It would be fab if there was a better quality version of this gig out there somewhere. But in lieu of that, to have this one is enough.
Only the fifth airing of Someone Somewhere In Summertime and the crowd just absolutely love it already!
Just…the reactions from the crowd. This really makes the whole gig. The reception songs like Sweat In Bullet, Promised You A Miracle, I Travel and, in particular, Sons And Fascination get are just wonderful.
And the crowd sings along too! I wanted to cry tears of joy when Jim intros Sons And Fascination and the crowd are already chanting “Semi Monde!” before the song even starts! I love this crowd. I could imagine being in the throng and feeling like I was in amongst “my people” – you know what I mean?
And I really love this version of Room as well. I love it when Room has a little bit of the Velvets Rock N Roll in the middle of it. I almost wish they’d have covered it properly.
I know this is the “DUH!” statement coming up but – I LOVE JIM! I really, really love Jim.
I’ll confess that my initial interest in this gig was purely because it was on the day of this gig that Jim wrote the lyrics to New Gold Dream (the song) … and I just have this lasting image in my head…
He supposedly had the words come to him while he was in the bath. Before the gig? After the gig? I’ve no idea but…I just enjoy the imagery it conjures up in my head of this…ADONIS…languishing in a bath and then…
In mind’s eye, it’s a GLORIOUS image! There’s not a towel to be seen. 😜🤓❤️
Anyway, forgive my ogling perversion. The link to the YT clip of the gig is below. It really is a good’un. Not so much for sound quality – but for atmosphere – it’s definitely a new favourite.
You can’t escape it. The thing that hits you when your first hear this song is Charlie’s pedal affected riff that makes it sound for all the world like a cow has entered the recording studio to add a repetitive “mooooo” to the music. It’s a bit of an “in joke” in amongst the Simple Minds fanbase, but we love it all the same! Oh, and…the backbeat. The “holy backbeat”. The drumming is awesome!
There isn’t a lot of information on the song on Dream Giver, which means it remains one of Simple Minds’ most elusive songs. I mean…what the heck is it about actually? The lyrics are Jim at his most ambiguous.
“He wants the world screams everything” – men are petulant and demanding? “She’s a country feel for life” – women are mysterious and a frontier to be explored and possibly tamed? “Follows in love, love brings the fall” – it’ll only end in tears? Love makes fools of us all?
I guess this is a prime example of what I was talking about in last week’s MMM about songs not really having to be about anything at all.
I have long talked about two lines in the song being the most either enigmatic, or the most poignant.
The first of the two is the line, “first tear forms in the right eye / this is the eye that’s crying first” – it is SUCH an ambiguous, perplexing line. It’s always induced a head scratch and a pondering in me. I have never been conscious of my tears falling at different points from different eyes. I find it such a strange and curious notion.
When I was reading the Alasdair Gray novel, Lanark, last year, I happened upon a passage of the book which read as follows…
“I must be a very cold selfish kind of person. If Mum died I honestly don’t think I’d feel much about it. I can’t think of anyone, Dad, Ruth, Robert Coulter, whose death would much upset or change me. Yet when reading a poem by Poe last week, Thou wast that all to me, love, for which my soul did pine, etc., I felt a very poignant strong sense of loss and wept six tears, four with the left eye, two with the right. Mum isn’t going to die of course but this coldness of mine is a bit alarming.”
Gray would have probably written those words in the late nineteen seventies, if not earlier. He had been writing the novel since he was 20 years old. Lanark was first published in February, 1981. Had Jim actually read a copy upon release? I know he likes to devour his books and seemingly during that early period, Charlie was an even more voracious reader than Jim. Did those words in the book spark something within Jim and result in that line in the song?
If you remember from last week and the excerpts from interviews I shared when posting about In Trance As Mission, Jim said that inspiration came from all kinds of places.
“More and more ‘image’ is important for bands now,” Kerr enthuses, “as opposed to the sound of jumping up and down. You can be inspired by various actors, playwrights, books, documentaries and magazines – the whole thing. It’s just opened up and inspiration now is coming from everywhere, as opposed to what was rock standards.” (Jim talking with Ian Cranna for New Sounds New Styles magazine printed in the December 1981 issue.)
The other line is one I find quite downcast and melancholy from Jim, on the surface, but it ends up shining and giving hope like many of the lines he has written does. “When the other side of midnight calls / remind me I’m glad to be here.”
I can interpret it either one of two ways, dependent upon my mood. The melancholic way – “another day is gone and I need a reminder that I am here and life is meant to be enjoyed”. Or the uplifting way “after midnight, it’s a new day. Give me that kick that it’s great to be alive”. There’s an element of doubt in it, “REMIND me I’m glad to be here”. If you are to derive true positivity from it, you shouldn’t need a REMINDER of being “glad to be here”, should you? But then I guess it begs the question, what is “here”? Here in this moment? Here on earth? Here, existing? Here, with you?
Yes, I do over-analyse as you can see. But it’s about learning. Getting to the heart and meaning of the song – if there is indeed meant to be one.
There is also a bone of contention I have with some of the words printed for the lyrics. I am sure that during the second verse that he doesn’t merely repeat the same line over again but splits it up accordingly “breath is in, breath is out / I’m not saying anything, I’ve said too much – breath is in, breath is out / I’m not seeing anything, I’ve seen too much.” That’s certainly how I hear it on the studio version anyway.
Now let’s talk about sparsity. I love the space that Jim’s obfuscatory lyrics give to the music of the songs. But also, especially for this song, the words almost act as another instrument. His voice and his words. He has said numerous times that he’s not a musician – because he doesn’t play an instrument. But you use your voice, Jim! THAT is your instrument and back in the early days of Simple Minds more so, and particularly during this period, coinciding with your words, you really DID use it that way. The nuances, the way you used your voice to manipulate the delivery of words. Your accent coming through some, the protracted delivery of others. All of that is using your voice as an instrument. Okay, it’s not opera. You’re no Pavarotti. But for me, 70 Cities is a prime example of your voice needing to be there. I love the song so much but I don’t listen to the instrumental version of Sound In 70 Cities because….it feels like nothing without your voice and words in it. Something is lost on Sound In 70 Cities without Jim there. I don’t think it was ever meant to be heard just as an instrumental anyway. It’s a “filler” for the Sister Feelings Call album. Rather crazy that at the end of so much creativity during those sessions that the release of two albums means the second ends up with not enough time filled on it!
Speaking of sparsity… It has hardly appeared on the setlist through the years. It was there for a time on the final leg of the Sons And Fascination tour as well as the early leg of the New Gold Dream tour of 1982, but after that, not a zip. Not until 30 years elapses and they’re on the 5×5 Live tour. It’s a mainstay for the sets on that tour, with just the odd omission here and there when the setlist is reduced for festival slots and suchlike. But then nothing again since 2012.
It is an absolute marathon of a song to perform live vocally though. You have the ability to overdub and merge vocal parts in the studio so the way the vocal parts are layered in the studio is incredibly hard for Jim to replicate live. Live versions required vocal backing harmonies from other band members (namely Forbes and MacNeil in the early runs, then Grimes and Gillespie latterly, I am guessing) to not make it such a vocal slog for Jim. Even with that help, it’s a rather tricky affair.
Getting into the bootlegs as I have done recently I was in raptures hearing live versions of 70 Cities from the 1982 gigs. Firstly from Tiffany’s in Glasgow on July 14th (performed TWICE in one night – the second being even more lively than the first, which you wouldn’t expect at a gig – as a result the second is favoured by me over the first), then at the Hacienda in Manchester a few days later. There is also one from when they played Coasters in Edinburgh in September ‘82 available to hear on YT, and finally one from Toronto in November of ‘82 – which is probably my favourite along with the second of the two performances at Tiffany’s.
Of the modern versions, there’s a cracking one from Cologne in 2012. And I can’t talk of the modern day ones without mentioning the version on the 5×5 Live album – Jim audibly expressing his love for his home away from home, Sicily, rolling off a bunch of town names in his most poetic of “Glasgow Italiano” accents. It’s hard not to smile listening to it, swept up in the sheer joy in his voice. As much as I enjoy that version, Cologne wins out because there is great video footage that accompanies it and Jim is AS HOT AS FUCKING FUCK on that tour. Jesus! I’ll regret not being this kind of SM fan at that point every day of my life. The memories other fans have. And the stories they have of meeting him and him just…going for a drink with them or just…hanging around for a bit. Not just rushing off. It sounded amazing. IN MY DREAMS!
Of course I am amazed and happy with all that I have experienced – but I’ll always dream of more. I’ll always want more! I can’t help it.
You’ll find links to all the versions mentioned below – with my two favourites viewable within the post.
As I said yesterday in my Sunday Waffle Vlog post, I went looking through the Art & Talk YouTube channel for something else to listen to, having been enjoying his more recent offerings.
I gazed upon the one below and thought “well, it’s only a few weeks prior to one of my most favoured gigs – one that helped to cement my uber SM fandom – Rockpalast in Cologne” so to me it had the strong potential of being a goodun’.
I was NOT disappointed! Right from the get go! Changeling – Jim just spits venom and vitriol. God I bloody LOVE IT when he performs like this. I find it absolutely as sexy as fuck! It’s just so…visceral and guttural and just….I just want to lick him from head to toe!
Then Thirty Frames and the switching of the lines – Jack comes back earlier than normal. Lol. But then, almost in a way angry at himself mabbies for fluffing up and putting the lines in the wrong place, he follows it with a “fuck you, Jack!” Lol
Premonition next and a fab version. Sweat In Bullet also. Then early outings for Promised You A Miracle – already been out as a single and FINALLY, Simple Minds score strong chart positions with a single. King Is White And In The Crowd follows, and Jim continues to spit venom with the “Wire them up! Fire them up!” lines.
The wonderful pairing (still being paired together to this day) of I Travel and Celebrate. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a crap version of Celebrate. JIM – I WANT TO BE YOUR RAG DOLL!!! Jesus fucking christ this man is so fucking sexy! Ermaaaaageeeerd! Had I actually been around for these gigs in 1982 – I think I’d have melted in a puddle most nights.
Then what is always my favourite at gigs – The American. Then finally, a fabulous version of Room – a shame it fades out towards the end….but we probably got 80-85% of the song.
Let’s move away from me concentrating on Jim’s performance and my…stirrings and talk about the quality of the recording and the rest of the band performance. The band – all tight AF. A really good turn from Mike O on the drums. The more I get exposed to Mike’s performances, the more I am coming round to appreciate him. Derek and Charlie both solid as ever. Mick was probably great too – but some of the keyboards got lost in the mix. Other than that, the sound quality is pretty ace. I mean, I proper recording as I guess it was recorded for a radio station as this version of the gig was recorded off Dutch radio by a fan. Jim sounds very strong and clear – hence all the visceral sounding stuff coming to the fore soundwise.
I really loved this gig. I found adrenaline pumping – if for no other reason than Jim’s vocal performance and his absolute SEX GOD appeal! Be still my beating ovaries! GODDAMN!!
I started listening to a new bootleg last night (new to me, at least!) of Simple Minds in Melbourne on the New Gold Dream tour of 1982. It’s their second night in Melbourne (having performed the previous night at the Latrobe University campus) and their fourth night on the Australian leg of the tour.
It seemed to start out well enough. They started (or at least the bootleg started) out with Love Song. They then went into Colours Fly. Jim was trying to keep his voice real low but would give up and would end up screeching. He sounded a bit off and was delivering bum notes here and there.
Given the subject matter of his latest post, I feel a bit pernickety for bringing up his vocal performance – esp. from a gig that’s nearly 40 years old. But…just humour me. I wasn’t around for these things the first time and even though it’s a retrospective critique, these gigs are heard with fresh ears – my fresh ears! I never really took a HUGE amount of interest in bootlegs, (just as a side note, WHY ARE bootlegs called “bootlegs”? I must look that up!) I could never understand why anyone bothered with them because they invariably sounded shit. Either the recording was shit, or the band was crap…or both.
Perhaps it is purely through the now almost completely dead live music scene do I find myself now exploring these recordings more? A combination of that, and of “newer” unearthed gigs being shared on YouTube for our collective listening pleasure that has resulted in this.
Anyways, back to the gig. Jim intros the next song in the usual way he did then “from New Gold Dream, this is called Hunter And The Hunted” – even his intro sounded lacklustre. But he had a propensity of sounding like that back then – the only time his nerves and the stage fright were detectable and audible was when he spoke.
As I listened intently, I couldn’t tell whether he was delivering it more impassioned than usual, or more despondently. His vocal was again off kilter. Not in a way it normally would be! You know, he’s diving around that stage like a whirling dervish. Taking lunges and leaps and skulking about like a panther. Somehow both balletic and yet acrobatic at the same time. More fluid in his moves than the robotic, stilted jerky movements he’d make a couple of years previous. He was at that point very athletic physically in his stage performance. Yet despite that, his vocal performance rarely faltered. Yes, he’d get breathless at times but what came across most was the passion in his performance. He rarely ever seemed to give a bum note.
It seemed about half-way through the song that…he just wasn’t feeling it. Or at least I detected more pain in his voice than passion. He seemed to not really be “in the moment”. It was feeling like he didn’t want to be there. Or at least that, it was getting hard to be there and be “on”. He was still trying to deliver impassioned performance. “Only with you life moves so fucking fast!”
At the end of the song and after the “thank you” he says rather forlorn “everything’s so fast”. It sounded so down! I winced when he said it and was just thinking “aaawww, Jim! What was happening to you that night, beautiful man?”
The gig was starting to sound flat. I couldn’t tell whether it was being projected through Jim, or whether the band were starting to sound flat and then that was having a knock-on effect on Jim, vice versa, or if it was just what I was feeling listening to it.
It’s hard to get a full idea of things. Without the visuals to get any visual indicators of how he was feeling it is all down to interpreting how he was feeling and his performance via voice alone. The crowd are still very responsive. They seem receptive enough.
To me, compared to the other gigs I’ve listened to lately – something just doesn’t feel right. Maybe he was just cold? Lol (I’m being flippant.)
As he intros Someone Somewhere In Summertime he says “will soon be warm here”. Sleep then got the better of me. Me drifting off while laying on my left side, looking at my wall of Kerrs inwardly thinking, “What was up, Jim? What was going on with you that night? Just…not feeling it? Geez, you’re beautiful…” and then …. *lights out*
I’m not sure I want to listen to the rest. But as an object in full retrospective critique, I guess it would be prudent to do so.
Let me know what you guys think. Is it just me? (Most likely. Lol. It usually always is “just me”…)
Thanks again to Stuart Greaves for uploading the audio.
This photo was shared by Bruce Findlay on Twitter a few days back. It’s of Simple Minds (and Bruce) receiving gold discs for New Gold Dream in Australia in 1982.
Pictured are Jim Kerr, Derek Forbes (behind Jim), Mike Ogletree, Mick MacNeil and Bruce.
The photo was sent to Bruce by former Roadrunner magazine founder and publisher, Donald Robertson. You can read more about him and the magazine at roadrunnertwice.com.au
Of course, it was Roadrunner magazine that has one of my favourite magazine covers of all time – and one I tried in vain to get a copy of early on in my fandom – the one of Jim with Iva Davies on the cover. There is a section of Mr Robertson’s blog in which you can view a digital copy of every issue of the magazine that was produced.
I love seeing photos like these. They allow you in to a little bit of history that you missed.
I think I should think about renaming my blog “The Vicarious Mind”. Lol