Before Lostboy! There Was “Special School” Boy! Lol (Pro Synth Network with Mick MacNeil)

I need to explain this post header. Lol

“The Man in the Sky”, Mick MacNeil, was being interviewed….well, more joined in in a live stream chat (with a loose interview in there) for this YouTube channel called the Pro Synth Network. Basically a weekly synth geek’s get together to discuss all things Synth and keyboard based. New bits of kit out on the market, etc, etc.

Once we get the technicals and geek talk out the way, about 45 minutes in, then there is talk with Mick about his time with Simple Minds and just…his background of being a synth player and how it all came to be. It’s a great thing and Mick shares great anecdotes and is a lot of fun. He always gives great banter.

I am going to drop in on the interview right at the point where Mick says he went to see the band before he joined. What he says about Jim absolutely cracked me up and had me in stitches! Which then meant I missed the next minute or so of the conversation. The very interesting point Mick made about Jim and his stutter (or on anyone with a stutter – in the broader sense).

Anyway, let’s cut to it. But I recommended you maybe go back a few minutes on the clip and listen to Mick talk about taking up (or having it thrust upon him, more accurately!) the accordion and sticking with the rest of the video.

 

Happy Release Day – Flight Of Ideas!

The day has arrived! Sadly, my copies are in lockdown as currently Monorail are only open as an online store and I ordered my Dinked LP and CD to collect from in the store itself. I’ll be waiting some time to collect, methinks! In the meantime, there is Spotify and the digital download copy to buy.

Check Warm Digits’ social media channels and website for details.

As a consequence, today’s music aperitif is Fools Tomorrow. Strangely timely for the perplexing time we find ourselves in.

Rescheduled Warm Digits Dates

Please note that Warm Digits have rescheduled their dates for the end of April/early May.

So far, there are two new dates rescheduled for Newcastle and Manchester. News on the Stag And Dagger date in Edinburgh and the London date for the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre will follow.

New dates for The Cluny in Newcastle is Sept.11th and Yes in Manchester is Sept. 12th. Keep your eyes peeled on the band’s social media for the remaining date changes. See you out there in Sept. hopefully!

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Turn Up The Funk – Warm Digits: Flight Of Ideas – Album Review

The follow up to 2017’s Wireless World sees the Newcastle duo expand on the lyrics and guest vocalists and they take the funk up a notch too! A fantastic trip into the topical point of how not every idea we have is the right idea and should be executed blindingly.

Following is my track-by-track thoughts on the new album.

Track one – Frames And Cages: Bang up-to-date but with undertones of Eastern mysticism and the soft wave of the signature Warm Digits sound. Pulsing rhythms through it. Love the ending. A strong album opener.

Track two – Feel The Panic (feat. The Lovely Eggs): First time I listened to it I felt it should have been the lead single, just my opinion. Great catchy lyrics. “Are you infallible? Or just gullible?” Andy’s drumming is a highlight on this. Great guitar licks from Steve as well. They bring out such a big sound for a duo. This track could currently not be any more topical!

Track three – The View From Nowhere (feat. Emma Pollock): A bit more of a laidback groove from the guys this track. Again, great lyrics. Great guitar licks from Steve.

Track four – I’m Okay, You’re Okay: The melody! I love this track. I actually find it very emotional. It’s reminiscent of something off Autobahn for me – just….the emotional impact of it. Gorgeous electronica. But also very organic. A very signature Warm Digits track for me.

Track five – Fools Tomorrow (feat. Paul Smith): Wow! What a track! The funk weaving through and Paul Smith’s voice works ssooo well with the sound. And the beat break around the three minute mark in the song? Divine! Again, tracks on this album are becoming incredibly topical.

Track six – Replication: Again, the melody that starts the track just pulls you in and then Andy drums like an animal. Great bass work and then manic but gorgeous waves of melody and riffs. Something pentatonic with the beat at times. Then another gorgeous beat break around the three minute mark. The bass on this is sublime!

Track seven – Shake The Wheels Off (feat. The Orielles): More funk coming along, but perhaps toned down a little compared to others. Great electronics on it and fab hooks and riffs going on in it. Again very catchy. “A real bone-shaker”, as the song says.

Track eight – Everyone Nervous (feat. Rozi Plain): Beautiful electronics and Andy’s drumming on it is fab. Great guitar reverbs towards the end of the track as well. Rozi Plain’s voice is so wonderful emotive. I find this a wonderfully soft and emotional piece. It actually gives me those goosebump chills of electricity when I play it.

Track nine – False Positive: TURN UP THE FUNK! Wow! Was blown away by this when they performed it at St Luke’s in Glasgow back in February. Great synth melody over the top too. Something you can really just funk out to. Might actually be my fave track on the whole album. If not then…it’s really up there!

Track ten – Flight Of Ideas: These guys really are the modern masters of the looped groove for me. I just love absolutely everything they produce. And – hidden singing sensation on the track – the one and only Steve Jefferis!

A cohesive collection of songs. A maturing of sound, I feel. A little less emphasis on the more motorik sound they had. They have certainly increased the funk ratio and the influences of the electronica that the band originally sprouted from has returned somewhat, but also matured.

Standout tracks for me are: Fools Tomorrow, Replication, Everyone Nervous and False Positive.

A very solid 4.5 stars out of five.

Flight Of Ideas is released on April 3rd, 2020, on the Memphis Industries label and can be pre-ordered online at the Warm Digits store. Click the LINK HERE for details.

Warm Digits Tour Dates

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The boys hit the road at the end of April and into early May to headline a tour showcasing the forthcoming album, Flight Of Ideas. I had already mentioned the album launch and signing happening at Rough Trade East in London on April 4th – beyond that are dates as listed below.

I would DEARLY LOVE to go to the Purcell Room in London but now I’m here living in Glasgow, I can’t really justify it. I looked into going, seeing how much it would be logistically but couldn’t really do it.

But I have already planned my logistics to see them in Newcastle and Manchester. Tickets for Newcastle went on sale this morning and Manchester tickets will be on sale tomorrow. And…Steve did say to me there will be an Edinburgh date too, so I will definitely be going to that one as well.

This band is ssooo stellar live (well, not just live). And they will be sure to have some special guests playing with them. If you can, go see them! Only Simple Minds and The Stranglers do I hold in as much esteem as these guys.

If you love your motorik beat “kraut rock” with a blend of electronica, you’ll LOVE Warm Digits! Check them out and go see them!

WARM DIGITS TOUR:
Sat April 4th 2020 – London, Rough Trade East
Thu April 30th 2020 – Newcastle, The Cluny
Fri May 1st – Manchester, Soup Kitchen
Sat May 9th 2020 – London, Purcell Room (South Bank)
Tickets/Info: https://www.songkick.com/artists/3015481-warm-digits

Simple Minds – Newcastle Oz – Photoset

A great set of fan photos here shared by kind permission from Gillian Spencer. Thank you!

To view full size images, click on the post from the home page, once at the post, click on the individual images for size viewing options on the lower right of the screen.

Simple Minds Storm Newcastle!

Well, it seems like the Oz fans got an absolute treat tonight – and La Diva (aka Laird Dash Fandango – Mr Kerr) seemingly was showing off a new shirt. Suits you, Sir!

I can’t say how much I wished to have been there. I am absolutely GUTTED I couldn’t make ot out there! 💔😟

Next time is a certainty. No matter when it happens…2019, 2020. Some promoter out there, PLEASE WANT THEM BACK NEXT YEAR, PLEASE?!

In the meantime, here is a short video clip and some images of the show used by kind permission by the wonderful Ally Scott. Thanks for letting me post these here, Ally. Love you, beautiful lady! ❤️

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Kerr Down Under – In NewKERRstle

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Oh, holy fucking shitflaps, he’s bringing up 2020 as the full itenirary tour year for Oz, again! I should have pulled out all the stops to go! I NEARLY did! I nearly booked a flight that would have had me out there by now. I was at the Etihad website, I was at the last page, cursor hovering over that “pay now” box…but, something told me not to. “No fall back” if the money doesn’t come in by January. It’s like permanently being on the crest of a wave…just waiting and waiting for the fucker to crash, but it just rolls and rolls and rolls, never crashing to the shore. WHERE’S MY SHORELINE SPUME, GODDAMNIT!?!

I wanted to “seize the moment” – not wait until the next tour. Because…life is full of uncertainty. Why wait for the next one, when I could have NOW!? Albeit it was just one gig, and not in Sydney? It was Australian shores, near enough to Sydney for me (still within my home state) and (most importantly) happening NOW…not in two years time.

The time has elapsed now. The opportunity (what small window of opportunity there was) gone.

Que sera sera…

Oh, yeah…here’s the article from local Newcastle paper, The Herald – click here to read

I Wish You Were Here

Is *not* a thing I imagine Jim is thinking right now of me. Lol. He’s probably relishing being 12,000 miles away! If there is even a thought about it at all.

In the story of the Kerr family’s ALMOST emmigration to Australia, I am also glad his mum had a change of heart, because there very well may have been no Simple Minds had the move Down Under taken place.

And I can well understand his mum’s change of heart. It’s no easy thing to do! It’s a life-changing and life-long commitment to up sticks and move half-way round the world. Esp. back in the 1960’s. Little chance of you ever flying back home to visit family for a couple of weeks a year, or every couple of years back then. One, plane travel would have been damn expensive and, even then, it would have taken at least double the amount of time it takes to fly to and fro now. It still isn’t THAT cheap, but it is far more affordable if you have a place to stay once there. These days it’s the accommodation rather than the price of the flight that is the biggest expense.

My own story of emmigration to the UK was not an easy one. When I got with my partner, the plan was for us to stay in Australia. But…for several reasons, it became apparant that was not going to work. What’s a person to do? I found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with…so as much as it pained me to leave my family, I took the move. They were the options – end it wth the love of my life and stay with my family, or leave my family to be with the one I love. Being an Anglophile helped that decision immeasurably.

So, here I am, some 20 years down the line. Did I ever regret that decision? In recent times? Perhaps maybe a little. But…only a little. For the distance it takes to travel. For the past 10 years only having had one opportunity to return home, instead of the serveral times I travelled back during my first 10 years in Blighty. I could continue with the personal aspect of this, but pefer not to. All I will say is…on the whole…no regrets. The past 10 years have been much harder than the first. And…I missed David. My brother, David…lost to liver cancer in 2014. Mum is aging, getting more and more decrepit. Those aspects about being so distant by geography are hard on the old emotions. Anyway…enough of the maudlin personal stuff. There’s wonderful stuff happening down there. Simple Minds have arrived! Well, Jim has at least…seemingly. I get the impression he’s been there a number of days already…possibly swinging down via Bali (as he was pondering to do half-way through the SM North American tour).

Let the Oz fans rejoice! How I wish that Gillian could have returned the favour and put me up at her place for a week. She was more than willing to do so! To be reunited with her and Nicola would have been grand. Have Ally join us on the day. Perhaps have met a few more of the Oz SM fans I’ve yet to meet. Had I not met Gwenda at the gig, we’d have had the chance to have met at some point, as she doesn’t live far from my sister. In a stupid small world, it was Simple Minds that got us knowing each other. We grew up living only one mile apart, but had never met!

Then there is the chance of seeing my best mate, Steven. Well, if I am out there next year, and I am sure that is on the cards, no matter what…we can celebrate 30 years of friendship! The life I’ve had…I never expected I would ever have a friend for 30 years. Lasting friendships were hard to come by for me. And, well, Steven and I have had our ups and downs too, but there is an amazing bond there and I absolutely love him with all my heart. That person you can be fully, totally, wholly yourself with. That “no filter” friend. Worts and all. Thick and thin. He’s it.

And, this time had I made it out, I couldn’t have gone to Adelaide and Janis. But now when I *do* go…the Hills will be alive with th sound of us chomping on the best food in the world! And if I am there to see Simple Minds, then GODDAMN, Janis is coming too! I doubt they’d do her favourite (Somebody Up There Likes You), but they SHOULD (hopefully, fingers crossed…Jim, if you’re reading this – Lol – as if – I am putting this request in early – next gig in Adelaide, PLEASE do Let There Be Love) do her second favourite song.

Anyway! Enjoy your fleeting visit to Oz, SM. At least PRETEND to be a bit gutted that I didn’t make it out there to see you, Sir. Lol. Yeah, I know…you were secretly thanking the almighty (Buddha) that I didn’t make it. I’ll delude myself anyway.

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The link in the post is this one – and a memory for me of every journey I took into the city on the train from mum’s. Sons And Fascination on the way in, Sister Feelings Call on the way back. Images of train tracks and the landscape of the inner city suburbs of Sydney now synonymous with the title track.And artwork I do for it that contains a skewed view I took from mum’s kitchen window in it.

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Oz Time Minds Time?

It’s all so…timely! The impending whirlwind whistle-stop to Newcastle is exactly two weeks away. I won’t make it out there. I never really believed I had much chance to begin with. But…I know all the stuff. I shouldn’t feel maudlin. It’s a one off! I’ve been to 19 Simple Minds gigs in the past two years (tonight being the 2nd anniversary of the BBC Radio 2 “In Concert” gig at Hackney Empire) – I COUNT MY BLESSINGS!

But…it won’t stop the pangs and the maudlin…because it is tied in with the pull of home and family and all of that.

Denis – I don’t blame you for asking. It was okay to ask. Dunno why Jim seemed so hacked off with the question. The fans just want to see you guys, that’s all! Denis has not been the ONLY Oz fan to be curious as to why the solitary gig.

I saw his comment this morning…and then a few hours later I am looking through the new issue of Billboard magazine and I see this statement from Michael Gudinski of Frontier Touring Company.

How timely. And, please, Michael! PLEEEEAAASE book SM for another (and wonderfully extensive) tour of Oz?! Please?! I will go to ALL the East coast shows. Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Wollongong. Maybe even Brisbane, Gold Coast. Definitely Hobart if it even happened (would looooooove to visit Tassie)! And definitely would go to Adelaide too. Oh, just…EVERYWHERE!

Bucket list dreaming…