Cannoli Get Better?

Good news from His Nibs today in his latest post. A number of good news pieces, for him – Villa Angela has once again opened its doors (just in case that whole “being the frontman for the best live band in the world” suddenly starts to go all pear-shaped after 40+ years, like). Whilst it remained closed to the public during lockdown(s), the space didn’t lay dormant, as he went on to explain. The fruits of it in summary – new SM music making its way to the general public imminently. 

If the things I have been seeing bandied about in the fandom are to be believed, somewhere around October is the projected ETA. (Or should that be ETR – estimated time [of] release?) Just in time for my birthday…the final Friday of the month falling on October 28th. That’ll do me just fine, thank you very much! 

With that I am assuming there will be a plan for a tour next year to properly unleash it to the world in a similar vein to how Walk Between Worlds was thrust upon the world? Usually with new music comes a new tour, so I am very much hoping this will be the case. I already have targets in sight for where I’d like to see them play – somewhat dependent upon the venues chosen and my state of health and availability next year. As well as the old financial impact with such things! 

I’m already bringing my mindset back to being of the feeling of ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’ – so, all being good I’d like to do Amsterdam (must be the Paradiso venue though, otherwise…meh) and Berlin. At the moment I am seeing that, from Paris, the tour’s schedule takes them on to Berlin and it’s killing me! Berlin has been my ‘bucket list’ destination for more years than I care to remember now. So, Amsterdam would be nice, but Berlin is a must! And I’m not even fussed by the venue.

Pre-Covid, I could have just thrown caution to the wind and at this late stage had tagged on going to Berlin straight after Paris, but I can’t do that now. After Paris all I have left is Blenheim Palace and the two Edinburgh Summer Sessions shows and they’ll have to suffice this year. I’ve gone to fewer gigs this year than on previous tours, but only by ONE GIG – it just feels so much less this time. In real terms, and if I factor in that I had at least gone to Copenhagen before the tour halted in 2020, I haven’t gone to any less shows on this tour. Actually, with Copenhagen being my own personal SAF/SFC accumulative tally dilemma (ie: do I count it as two gigs or one? Two distinct and separately billed gigs, just on the one night – and a largely separate audience at both gigs, etc, etc – I count it as two) it could be argued that I will have been to TEN gigs on this tour and therefore it will have been my biggest tour yet!

I’ll have to be more concise and restrained next time. A few shows here in the UK, Berlin as my main overseas jaunt – possibly Amsterdam if it’s at the Paradiso…if not then maybe somewhere else in Germany…Hamburg or Cologne? We’ll see. I’m getting ahead of myself. Before moving away from the topic though, I need to factor in where I will be study wise as well and try and work around that also. I’ll have another module of my course to complete next year before I actually DO get my DipHE in English. Then I will be thinking about moving forward to getting an actual undergraduate degree. 

Briefly on that note – I had a ‘school day’ yesterday. Online tutorials taken as one long block like this, instead of the broken up evening options are referred to as a ‘school day’ as it is a day long set of tutorials starting at 10am and finishing at 3.15pm. I have really enjoyed the previous two school days I had attended and was highly anticipating this one but it left me a little … deflated and unmotivated, sadly. The first tutorial was good. The tutor is very engaging and likes to be very interactive with the students and that’s great. I personally found the topic of this block of four the least ‘interesting’ for me. I don’t know why? Perhaps because I studied the week prior to the block of SM gigs I had coming up, maybe? I should have found it quite interesting as I do love the visual arts, but of the visual arts, sculpture is something that I love most in its modern form and we were looking at Greek and Roman sculpture – from the Archaic Greek (used in its purely academic context), through to the Classical Greek, to the Roman style and only just coming into the time of CE (after the birth of Christ) – to the first and second centuries CE. So…very much NOT modern sculpture. It was enjoyable enough though. 

The next was ‘The Blues’ and this was where my interest lies the most especially for working on my next assessment. I am still weighing up whether to work on my assignment topic as being this, or whether I take a flying leap of faith in myself and take the ‘Writing Stories’ topic and hope for the best? The tutor was engaging but … I didn’t feel like I was getting good guidance or being instructed with much clarity and there were some technical issues that were hindering the tutorial so I came away from it feeling somewhat disappointed. 

We took a break for lunch. The creative writing (ie: Writing Stories) tutorial was next. It was a really tough study week for me, this topic. I didn’t feel any more confident about it being the next tutorial as I took my lunch break. I was dreading it in actual fact. The reality was ssooo different! The tutor scared the crap out of me at the beginning of the tutorial by saying “I am going to give you all time to write something out today”. I had flashbacks of the rare days I’d be in school and we would be given writing tasks and there’s me, staring at a blank page as the minutes tick by and I am paralysed with indecision and inability to put pen to paper on command. 

I embraced it when it came time. We were at least given a starting point. I ran with my starting point and wrote out nearly 200 words in the 10 minutes we were allotted to continue on with one of the story arc options we could choose from. When the tutor returned, we were given another 5 minutes to develop the story from a different perspective. I then wrote out another 80 odd words in the 5 minute allotted block. Both pieces were fluent, linear pieces of imagery and dialogue. Proper scenes. I was really pleased with that. Whether I do anything with it? Whether it becomes part of what I produce for my assignment? At this stage I am unsure. The next assignment is just over three weeks away and although I have done some minor planning (producing a plan is part of the mark for the next assignment), I am still weighing up on deciding my topic.

I seem to have to keep reminding myself who I am. A psychiatrist would have a field day with me, I’m sure! Also…nothing REMOTELY embarrassing revealed in some of the scribble, eh?

Finally, the last tutorial was on reading poetry. I have not studied the unit yet. I will be doing that this week (before Paris!). The tutor was not very engaging and got bogged down on the details of what was required and expected of students if they choose to take the reading poetry unit as their assignment topic. About halfway through I was losing the will to live! I was not engaged with this tutorial at all and I started doodling on this large brown cardboard backed envelope I have on my desk. (See the photo above for all the gory details.) We finished a little early – just after 3pm. I was ssoooo grateful!

Anyway, this was meant to be BRIEF! I’ve taken up half the post with my uni crap! Sorry! It’s the current grapple I have with this blog! I keep wanting to keep this current and fresh with Simple Minds news – but my own personal stuff is occupying my time.

In summary – THERE IS A NEW SIMPLE MINDS ALBUM(s?) TO LOOK FORWARD TO! And…with a new album comes a new tour (one would pretty much guarantee to assume).

YAY!!!

The Dream Interviewee – In *MY* Dreams

I couldn’t sleep last night. I had done my usual thing of listening to The Archers (Can’t believe how long I have been listening to it now. I still avoid the theme tune like the plague though – timing it to perfection. As soon as I hear the man say “you’re listening to” – I hit that 15 second forward button and it’s just the perfect length to avoid the whole intro tune. Lol), and then I followed it with listening to a radio adaptation of Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge.

After that, I couldn’t settle. I couldn’t switch my mind off. I thought I’d listen over Jim’s interview with The Rockontuers (aka Guy Pratt and Gary Kemp) as when I had previously listened to it I started to drift off to sleep rather quickly as I think I gave it a listen late one night between the two sets of gigs I went to.

I had missed the end entirely the first time round. I love how Guy and Gary are with him towards the end, calling him a “dream guest” (to paraphrase) because he went overtime of any previous guest by some way. I love that! I just adore how chatty Jim is now.

And I know it’s a stupid dream, it really is because after the past couple of weeks it is more obvious than ever to me that I would NEVER be able to have a wonderfully at ease, fluid, intriguing, thought-provoking conversation with this man if my life fucking depended on it! 

I always end up with even MORE questions for him by the end of each interview. Even though he sticks to a core …. dialogue – because he’s pretty much being asked the same questions over and over – he has a repertoire, you know. 

It is why of the more recent bunch of interviews Jim did, I loved his interview with Mark Millar from XSNOIZE so much because Mark asked questions not normally asked of him. Questions a diehard SM fan would ask. 

Having said that – I was surprised to hear Guy and Gary ask Jim about Lostboy! That was refreshing!

I bring up all the stuff I brought up about this blog yesterday. I still want it to be SOMETHING. I still have dreams of interviewing others. I’d love to interview Sarah for the blog. I’d still love to interview John Leckie, Steve Hillage, Pete Walsh – but I’m NOT a journalist and I still see the reply from management I got some years ago of “Jim and Charlie don’t do blogs” ETCHED in my mind’s eye each time I dare to dream of interviewing Jim. 

I got one question at the soundcheck in Glasgow, I guess. One question – when I have at least 20 more! Well…I guess I tried a second asking about Sanctify Yourself at Newcastle – and that went really well! (Not.)

Perhaps I would find it much easier to talk to Charlie – without Jim around? I think Charlie would put me at ease more as I think “Mr Taxi-Fer” takes too much relish in making me squirm – I guess seeing that effect you have on certain people never really gets old. 

I’d like to think that perhaps with some distance between us – more than just a few feet and a stage barrier between us, that perhaps I COULD manage a fluent and intelligent interview with His Kerrness, but I am pretty much resigned to the idea of it only ever being a dream. That my 1.65 questions will most likely have to suffice.

P.S. That coquettish smirk just kills me!

This boy that looks at me as I type away on my keyboard at my “workstation” – this one right here (see pic above) looks at me like “nae chance, woman” – with the exact same look the Kerr of today looks at me, though I think there is usually a furrowed brow of bemusement underlined with exasperation in the facial expression of today’s Mr Kerr – mixed in for good measure. 

Anyway, I mostly wanted to post how much of a joy it was listening to the podcast and it was worth a mostly sleepless night for it. 

Jim never stops making me feel in awe of him. Someone said to me once – of Jim – “Oh, he’s really boring. You wouldn’t want to know him that well.” That person is probably right….but I personally don’t think I could EVER see, feel or think Jim is boring! 

Who knows?

I really need to get back to study! I’m doing this post more as an exercise in avoiding the Creative Writing unit of my study than anything else. I am now at the week I have been anticipating the most and it’s scaring the crap out of me. The fear of failure that gives me avoidance tendencies is rearing its ugly head again. I must not let it win! Tackle it head on! Conquer the fear! Fail better!

Link to the Rockontuers podcast featuring Jim is below:

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/rockonteurs-with-gary-kemp-and-guy-pratt/id1530701242?i=1000556836946

Minds Music Monday – 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall – SAF/SFC 40th Anniversary Celebration

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.

Gallus in Glasgow, July 1982 (Vers. One at 53sec, Vers. Two at 1:25:10) – https://youtu.be/i0Brp4ucqik
Heady Hacienda (not the best sound), July 1982 – https://youtu.be/7E74uyEbfzY
Elegant in Edinburgh, Sept 1982 (Marked start point in description box) – https://youtu.be/CaZxk4Uf0sY
Sentimentally Sunny in Sicily 2012 – https://youtu.be/hGVwhMcR4m0

Titillating Tao

He’s been spotted! It’s nice to actually SEE him for a change. He’s not really much of a “Selfie Sir” these days.

It’s just nice to see him.

I miss you, Sir! Not that you give a monkey’s, I know. But I still miss you anyway (and love you even more!).

Slow News Sunday Summary – April 28th

Well, seeing as most days there is not much to report, I have decided to coin the SM “Slow News Sunday Summary”. A look at what morsels have been reported via SMO or other related avenues during the past seven days.

  • Cherisse on tour with Kelly Jones in June/July
  • Sir’s been to Sicily
  • Sarah’s Saturday night gig
  • Rejuvenation albums now available individually as singles

On Wednesday it was officially revealed by Cherisse on her social media that she will be playing with Kelly Jones (Stereophonics’ frontman) during his solo tour of the UK in June and July. A fan had heard an interview with Jones on radio saying that he was “interviewing” a drummer to tour with him and that SHE currently plays for Simple Minds. A rather large giveaway, but I was remaining nonplussed about it until word came from Cherisse herself.

I had a drumming lesson with her on Thursday and we talked about the news. She said some fans got into a panic, asking her whether it meant the end of her time with SM.

Have no fear, peeps! She’s just grabbing the opportunity for some gigging while there is SM downtime.

Also taking the opportunity to explore other musical avenues during the SM downtime is Sarah Brown, who was a guest of a group called Casca, playing a gig last night in Camden. I would have loved to have gone, but honestly, I cannot reiterate how skint I am right now. But I would have loved to have gone and shown some support.

Jim had a few days in Sicily earlier in the week. Some downtime for him from a busy schedule of writing, etc… all actually very elusive as to what else he’s doing other than him saying he’s “writing”.

Anyway…mustn’t dwell on how quiet it is, eh? And actually, I SHOULD be thankful because I have sod all money to do anything with … and that would be FAR worse! If they were touring around and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Speaking of things that cost money that I can’t really do anything about…
After now having released the Rejuvenation box sets and having had us all invest in those (well, those of us who could…), the albums and CDs are now available to purchase individually.

I am now in absolute dilemma mode. A huge part of me wants the box sets because of the packaging. Another part of me says it means I can invest in the vinyl that I was most interested in getting from the box set with a smaller outlay spread over time. The CD/DVD box set I definitely DO want to invest in. But it is going to have to wait.

Until next week, folks…keep it Simple x

Confirmation Of The Inevitable For Italian Fans – No Tao Gig

Well, at least in local Taormina and Sicilian online press there is confirmation that a touted June 24th gig in Tao is a “no go”.

The gist of the translation of reports from Italian to English seems to indicate that no official word has come from SM as to the validity of this gig, or that they’ve confirmed they are not taking part in it. I’m a little sketchy on that. Either way, that June 24, 2018 reported/listed gig is not on.

Upset not just for Italian fans. Many other Minds fans from accross Europe enjoy the pilgrimage to Jim Kerr’s second home of Taormina. Perhaps it’ll be on for 2019? Only time will tell…

Reports can be read HERE and HERE