Minds Music Monday – Good News: Live – RCH, 1995

It is with some level of trepidation that I explore live output from Simple Minds in 1995. Mostly just to do with my silly hang up about Jim’s style of singing during that period.

But with yet ANOTHER new upload from Art&Talk (YouTuber of eternal mystery…), I felt almost duty bound to take the plunge and listen to the gig uploaded. That namely – a gig from the Good News From The Next World tour of them at the Royal Concert Hall on September 10th, 1995.

We start things off with a pretty stellar version of She’s A River. Full version, and so new still (although already several months old) that Jim ACTUALLY REMEMBERS the words! 😱😱😱😘😜

Then into a bit of a curveball for the period and into Up On The Catwalk. Quite enjoyed that too.

From early on you get a real feel for the atmosphere of the gig. You can also sense how much live production techniques have refined and changed over the past 15 years (up to 1995) as everything sounds pretty crystal clear – from Jim’s breathlessness to the crowd going apeshit when he asks of them “everything okay?” – the only thing that gets lost in the mix at times is the crowd singing along, which isn’t an entirely bad thing IMHO.

See The Lights was also great. But then, for me, the highlight. The jaw-drop moment. The one that almost had me throwing myself out of bed and doing cartwheels on the bedroom floor – The American. But not just ANY OLD VERSION of the song but one in which Jim actually SANG THE BV LINES! The “across a curved earth, Nassau club days, in collective fame, the eventful work-outs” – I nearly wet myself with excitement! I mean…he NEVER sang those lines live that I have ever been aware of – before or since! In the early days he’d do the “here comes the flag, I’m walking in the black” lines and also do “hand shake, this world, here comes the flag” lines – but never those BV lines!

I wanted to be able to up jump back in time, crawl through some kind of wormhole and just kiss him all over and shag his brains out! Lol – fuck! Goddamn!!!

I’d sell my fucking eyeballs off if he sang those lines again. I’d even be happy with the “hand shake, this world, here comes the flag” lines these days!

I think this will now – singularly – be my favourite live version of The American … EVER! And if you told me that THAT was going to happen from listening to this gig, I’d have never believed you!

I grinned like a Cheshire cat through the whole song. In actual fact, I was mostly like THIS through it (and grinning like a loon when I allowed myself to close my mouth a little. Lol)

But after the joy of The American came the mixed bag of Big Sleep. Great that Jim (again!) was great with the lyrics (he was on a roll at this gig) – but he was veering into the singing style that grates on me a little too much with this version. But! Having said that it wasn’t the complete turn off from some versions of it I have heard. Also…it was short. Literally half the length the song usually is – particularly live. I suppose that was probably a good thing.

Back on the up again with a cracking version of Great Leap Forward. A decent enough version of SSIS (not sure Mark Schulman quite had the feel of the drumming on that right, but perhaps I am being pernickety?) sandwiched between a pretty cracking Hypnotised.

Let There Be Love from that period had us ‘coming’ “like an ocean” twice! Lol (Don’t mind if I do, Jim. Fucking Tsunami, I reckon, if you ever … erm … “came” near me like that! Lol – Noah would need the ark! And then some …😂😂😂😂)

Belfast Child? Did it work at that point, played like that? Hmmm, jury’s out. I liked the line change “peace is raging through the Emerald Isle” of the time. It still took a few more years to get there from that point – but it did get there in the end.

Back to Jim being the “blues crooner” during the medley of Roadhouse Blues and into Waterfront. I can’t be too dismissive of him for that. Given the choice between Jims Morrison and Kerr and which one has the more sex appeal for me – THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING CONTEST – sorry Mr Morrison. I appreciate the sex appeal you exuded, I do…but, you are not the Jim for me (though I am pretty sure I’d have had a hard time saying no to you had I ever found myself in your presence).

The crowd interaction, Jim talking to the punters…still extolling lovingly of Glasgow.

We then go into Love Song and as much as I am enjoying this gig, sleep is starting to take hold of me. I start to fall into a dwam and Love Song and it’s slight medley into Glory begin to elude me as I fall deeper in. I barely hear the beginnings of Alive And Kicking and am almost fully asleep by the time the song ends. The rapturous applause by the crowd is what rouses me back from my ever deepening dwam.

I am fully awake once more for the encore which begins with And The Band Played On. Everything performed from the Good News album gets a solid thumbs up from me.

And…knowing that we were into the encore and with it yet to make an appearance, I was dreading the inevitable appearance of Don’t You (Forget About Me). And…there she blows! Penultimate song of the night! Never as bad a thing to endure when you’re in amongst the crowd and you let yourself get caught up in the sing-a-long, nostalgia-trip-fest – but other than that, I derive very little enjoyment from it these days. God, I’d have LOVED the 5×5 Live Tour (and I bet they bloody LOVED having a tour that the song didn’t have to be part of since 1985!) – a whole tour in which you NEVER had to endure DYFAM – what a dream! I know! It sounds like I hate the song. I don’t! What I hate is how overplayed it is! What I hate is knowing I’ll have to hear it at every single Simple Minds gig I ever attend for all the rest of my days. What I hate is…pretending that I really enjoy hearing it at every damned gig and feeling implored to sing “la la las” for five fucking minutes while Jim takes a few minutes break from singing.

Final song is…the final song I ever heard being performed live… Sanctify Yourself. Again…upon reflection – I’d have LOVED 5×5 Live because with no DYFAM also comes no Alive And Kicking and no Sanctify Yourself. I’d have to double check it, but I am pretty sure these three songs have either been the final three songs or within the final five songs (in a slightly altered and reversed order) of the set at EVERY SM gig I’ve been to – and that’s 22 of them (23 if you count that I actually attended both shows at Copenhagen).

I’m sorry to say it, but I stopped listening. Tiredness was taking over and my patience was wearing thin so…I switched off.

BUT! I really enjoyed the gig, and apart from most likely skipping the final two tracks (if I had been there, I might have pissed off home a bit early, at least I could catch the 75 back home before everyone else needing it piled on 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻), I’d definitely listen to it again. And…THE AMERICAN! THE AMERICAN was fab!

So….

For MMM this week, enjoy the Good News from 1995!

Quality Is Key

There’s been a recent newcomer on YouTube, uploading SM bootlegs. Some I really enjoyed as they were of a fairly decent quality – others …. not so great.

The most recent upload I was really excited to see was another from the tail end of 1982 – my all time favourite period for listening to them live.

I started to tune in last night but I quickly stopped, disappointed that the quality of the audio just WASN’T there.

They had shared the upload on one of the SM fan group pages with a cheeky “Art & Talk who???” comment. Lol

Well, if you’re going to be full of bravado about it, then honestly, A&T has nothing to fear because A&T uploads QUALITY!

I’ll even delve into periods of the band I am not so enamoured with because I know the sound quality of the bootleg will be “to a standard”. It is why I listened to the Glastonbury set a few nights ago. As much as I love the Good News From The Next World album, and as great as the band was live at the time, there is an element of Jim’s singing voice at that period that grates on me. I don’t really know what it is – I just don’t like the way he sounds at that point. It’s mostly to do with word annunciations and nuances in pronunciations of words – kind of “American mid-west crooner” kind of style. Or more … over-emphasised “blues man”. It just sounds false and kind of protracted and laboured. It wasn’t so pronounced at the Glastonbury gig so I did enjoy it but other gigs from the time, his voice just gets on my tits and I have to stop listening (sorry, Jim!).

So, yes, the quality of A&T’s uploads means I *will* listen to things I normally wouldn’t. Not always. Some I still haven’t dabbled in – but I’ll get around to it.

Of course there are some points in the history of the band’s bootlegs in which it will be nigh on impossible to have quality recordings. Unless they actually had made recordings for radio, etc, and they were professionally recorded, there is going to be little quality around.

And still, for my own level of interest in wanting to listen to bootlegs – quality is key. It is why I shied away from dabbling into bootlegs for so long. One) the general poor quality of recordings, and two) I wasn’t overly into live music when I first got into the band. That has changed massively since being a SM fan and now I really enjoy the live music experience. And I actually find the bootleg experience to be a much better (and truer) representation of what it is like being at a gig than a more professionally recorded thing with full production techniques and “in studio ‘enhancements’” and overdubs made to them.

I want to hear the crowd! Yes, I hate having some bloke being a pub singer right next to me and wailing over the top so I end up hearing much more of them than I do of Jim! But I’d prefer that than to no crowd noise at all and Jim’s voice sounding perfectly audible … almost as if he had gone and recorded his voice in a studio 🤨🤔🤔

If you’re going to give me a live album – make it LIVE. Don’t fiddle with it! Give me the imperfections and the crowd noise.

Still, one wonders exactly HOW MUCH is *live* at the gigs these days. Well, not much at the moment in good old Covid World.

But I digress.

Bootlegs – they need to be of a certain standard. They can still have the crowd and the punters talking and singing and you can hear the cheers and the screams and that makes you feel a part of it. And the band still sounds full and strong, and you can hear Jim’s patter between songs and he always sounds amazing and emotive, sometimes even breathless, and on the VERY ODD occasion, off key – but it all adds to the magic.

So, you provide the quality and I’ll keep on listening – capiche?!

Follows In Love – Simple Minds, Toronto, 1982 – New Art & Talk YouTube Upload

Yesterday morning when I opened up Facebook to catch up with what had been posted, etc, during the night while I had been sleeping, I looked at my notifications to see I’d been tagged in a post on one of the SM groups.

The tag linked to what is below. A new upload from Art & Talk of a Simple Minds gig. I immediately recognised the ident for the video. I then looked at the details of the gig. The date: November 7th, 1982 – the New Gold Dream tour. The city, Toronto. It made perfect sense why A&T chose it. Jim was standing side profile in front of a Canadian flag in the image I chose as the silhouette for my piece.

Then I looked at the rest of the detail, and Art & Talk, bless him, had a little blurb about me and my blog. Totally unexpected and incredibly humbling.

I may have had visits to my blog yesterday as a result. If you’re reading this right now as a new visitor due to Art & Talk’s kind words, thank you for visiting and checking it out. My blog can frequently have a personal ring to it, esp. over the past 10 months of this pandemic. It’s been harder to keep the site fresh and relevant in the past 12 months, but I am working on it. And hopefully new material being released by the band will help with that.

In the meantime, things like A&T’s uploads of gigs, be they audience bootlegs, audio from the soundboard, or radio recordings, the work is appreciated. Esp. by us Johnny-come-lately types who weren’t there to experience the gigs the first time around.

I hope those of you who are new here find something you like with the blog and that you may visit again, or even subscribe to the feed.

And of the gig itself? Well, it feels a bit special in that it’s Mike Ogletree’s last gig on the drums. I do understand why the guys ended up going with Mel in the end, but Mike brought a different deftness with him. All the drummers Simple Minds have worked with have their left their own stamp and indelible marks to the sound of Simple Minds. I was guilty of underestimating and undervaluing Mike for some time, but actually, he has been behind the kit at some of my favourite ever gigs and I have grown to appreciate his contribution so much.

Last night I was extremely tired and only lasted until about halfway through Hunter And The Hunted (there’s some irony! Lol) before Mr Sandman finally took hold of me. I came around some time later to silence. The gig had ended and I had heard none of the rest of it.

The difference in performance of 70 Cities was very noticeable. From how it was in March of that year compared to this one in November was marked. It was a fab version at this gig. Jim’s vocal especially. It really isn’t an easy one to do. There is so much overlapping of vocals on the album version. It’s not easy to reproduce that live, but he nailed it here. Fabulous!

Despite falling asleep so quickly last night, I know I’ll enjoy this gig immensely. I hope you guys do too.

I’d have loved to have seen them in Canada in 2018 but things just weren’t meant to be. And it’s not as if I hadn’t had plenty of opportunity to see them here in the UK and elsewhere in Europe during 2018.

Thanks Art & Talk for the big plug and for all the Simple Minds content on your YT channel. The hard work has never gone unappreciated.

UPDATE (written Thursday):

I listened to the rest of it on Wednesday night. The sound quality of the recording does waver a bit. You can hear the crowd and so e raised voices here and there but it isn’t too disruptive. Canadian audiences seem very respectful, unlike UK crowds who always seem to be waffling over the top.

I really enjoyed the rest of the show. The standout for me was King Is White which was almost as vitriolic as the performance in Sydney but Jim managed to keep some control in.

I don’t whether there was some kind of disturbance going on in the crowd when the song begins begins because Jim seems to say “What’s your problem? There is no problem.” I don’t know whether he is actually addressing someone in the crowd or WTH? If there was something going on in the crowd, it didn’t seem to turn into anything.

I also loved the versions of Sweat In Bullet and Room. The crowd reaction to Sweat In Bullet is awesome. And I am still loving that version of 70 Cities.

Surprisingly on the opening leg of the tour, New Gold Dream wasn’t in the set which seems a really glaring omission in retrospect.

Overall though, a fabulous gig from the opening leg of the NGD tour. One to treasure as Mike O’s final one.