A lovely day out while the weather was good. I’ll let all the photos and bits of video do the talking…
A lovely day out while the weather was good. I’ll let all the photos and bits of video do the talking…
A souvenir (the rag doll) from exploring the country today. More about that tomorrow…
There’s a break for me now in the gigs I have coming up. I’ll be in Edinburgh at the end of the month for my birthday treat of seeing a touring production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – making it my sixth time seeing the show and the first time seeing it since the last show I saw in Milton Keynes in 2012.
I have a couple of Warm Digits gigs in November – once again heading to Edinburgh to see them and then a few nights later back here in Glasgow.
After that, I have two shows book for December. Warm Digits once again, this time in Newcastle…but that has a question mark over for now. Then two nights later on Dec 18th, I’ve booked to see Memes at McChuills.
Then in January, a Celtic Connections gig and then The Stranglers at the O2 Academy. Nothing for February – as far as I am aware… but in all honesty, your guess is as good as mine. I didn’t even remember I booked The Stranglers gig until a couple of weeks back when I was sorting out my email account.
And then…March! Which I had been discussing last night and today with my gig buddy and partner-in-crime, Birdy.
Over the past 24 hours I have sorted flights to Paris (goddamn gotta fly to and back from Edinburgh as flights from/to Glasgow don’t run as frequently as they do from Auld Reekie) and sorted out a place to stay right near the venue. And by ‘eck – WHAT A VENUE! I am allowing myself some mild excitement once again. This will probably be my only venture to see SM outside of the UK next year. I have thoroughly kissed goodbye to Taormina and I am only tentatively contemplating a return to Dublin now (I have a ticket for the Dublin gig though). I’m not relishing the idea of a flight with Ryanair …. but I may consider other options to get there. We’ll see. If not then we have… Paris, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle…(Dublin?)…Blenheim Palace….Edinburgh.
Paris will be the first Simple Minds gig, almost two years to the day since I saw them in Copenhagen. I am lamenting there is now only one day between Paris and Bordeaux as it now means Bordeaux cannot happen for us. With it being during the week and only a day in between it just isn’t working out now. Bordeaux was a pricey mistake anyway, goddamnit!
In the meantime….check out the Paris venue! La Seine Musicale…beautiful!
It’s been seven years. Seven years since I became that rabid “obsessive”. Seven years since the world of Simple Minds truly opened up to me.
I was reminded of the fact of how…embedded in this new-found “obsession” I was by a post that appeared in my FB “memories” a couple of days back.
The memory in question was going to see Nana Mouskouri at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The memory was a reminder of how wonderful that new-found obsession felt. How much I loved discovering those treasures and being floored by them and truly just not being able to get enough of them. Devouring the music greedily and just playing stuff again and again and again and wondering if I would EVER tire of listening to them.
I worry that, over time, the love for Jim has vastly overtaken the love for the band, and for the music. It was already strikingly obvious that was probably happening in 2018 over the whole “real fans” affair and my blocking from the band FB page.
Years passed and it never seemed to get old. If anything I would get incrementally more and more obsessed. When I was out in Oz with mum in 2015/16, the music was my comfort and solace at night. I was petrified of being at my mum’s house at night. It felt like the most unsafe place to be. The only way I found I could settle myself down and try and get to sleep was to play Simple Minds on Spotify. Play them on shuffle mode. Just…the sound of the music, the sound of Jim’s voice. Sometimes I would play some interviews as well. The interview Jim had with Billy Sloan – that was a recent discovery then, and I played it often when I was out in Oz. It soothed me – and it would make me happy and also would make me cry too, because he’s being “just Jim”. Just this normal guy talking to his pal. And the thing I’d play the most – the bit of it I’d play most is this bit (it should autoplay from the correct point – if not 3min 16sec mark) – his laugh. It is just the most beautiful sound in the world to me.
The memory of that Nana Mouskouri gig reminded me how absorbed in the band and the music I was. Thinking about that coach journey home from London and listening to that Spotify shuffle mix and Boys From Brazil coming on and being in love with it! The song. The music! The lyrics. Astounded by what I was hearing. Even though I celebrate my fan anniversary on Jim’s birthday – it was closer to the end of July in 2014 when I started listening to their back catalogue intently. So by the Mouskouri gig I am maybe 8 weeks into my fandom, at most!
I haven’t felt compelled to write a post out like that and share it on SMOG for…I don’t know how long! Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call posts aside (which were just links to blog posts) – it’s been several months since I had posted like that on SMOG – probably not since sharing my mocked up mural of Jim on there.
I think because…I’m missing it. I’m missing that joy of being a fan that is starting to erode away. The Sons/Sister 40th Anniversary pulled some of that into focus, on a personal level. But on the flip side, I am feeling quite cut off and set adrift.
Apart from SAF/SFC and bootlegs from around 1981/1982, I haven’t really been listening to too much Simple Minds at all lately. As the years of my fandom went on, I used to wonder if I would ever tire of listening to them as intently as I have done all these years. Worried what it would mean for me if that time ever came. I was never sure it ever would. A couple of times it did happen for brief periods…but it was mostly a kind of “forced circumstance” thing. Like with the “real fans” episode. When that was happening, I found it hard to listen to anything. After a time I could listen to early stuff but I couldn’t listen to later stuff. To Walk Between Worlds. It was all too attached to Jim.
I’m worried I’ve grown tired of listening to the music. Even things I really love! Albums I really love like Empires And Dance. I’ve been looking through Spotify over the past week or so and I am finding myself thinking “Do I *want* to listen to Simple Minds? Aw naw, you’re good”, kind of thing. Then I think “well maybe I’ve just grown a bit weary of the studio stuff…what about a bootleg?” and I’ll look at my list of bootlegs and think equally “Aw, naw. You’re good.” It’s kind of terrifying me because I have never actually felt like this!
I’m worried I am too deeply entrenched into attaching my feelings for the music with other things. The vibe from the fanbase. The vibe from Jim. I mean…I’ll love Jim for as long as a summer’s day. Never seem to tire of him (though I really should – for sanity’s sake). Lord knows he probably wishes I’ll fuck off and leave him alone. I can’t erase that feeling as it is no doubt true. Either that, or he really doesn’t give a shit either way. I don’t know which feeling is the worst to grapple with – dislike or indifference?
And I wish there was some news or just SOMETHING coming along! It’s a long wait until March! Not from this point in time – but from the time the wait has started. And I know Simple Minds have taken breaks like this in the past – but they haven’t been forced upon them, or us as fans. With gigs and the music industry starting to get back on its feet now, the lack of anything from SMHQ feels like a gaping chasm!
Was it just me that found it highly ironic in Jim’s post about (potentially) having tea with Colin Hay last week that he mentioned watching Hay’s online gigs? I mean, really? Talk about rub it in, right?! To be fair – I have watched only one of these kind of gigs – a Field Music one, and it suffered technical problems, so it isn’t something that overly appeals to me. And I am guessing, and had guessed from very early on that the idea of this kind of thing didn’t appeal to Jim much and that SM fans had a snowball’s chance in hell of seeing anything like it from them. Fair enough. I wasn’t going to push the argument. But where was the imagination? Where was something that said, “well, we could do THIS!”, etc?! So, we got a little performance for Christmas – for charity, so that was great, and some Spotify playlists from Jim until he escaped his Glasgow lockdown prison? And I KNOW they’ve been working, so…why not throw us something from those sessions? Why not? In the meantime we get reschedule after reschedule and the Oz/NZ fans get a full tour cancellation.
Jim…can you not appreciate how disheartening it has been for us?! Is loyalty NOT a two-way street? It is great to have you at least corresponding with more regularity. But this is why I felt so disheartened at seeing your reply to Colin Hay last week. It shows you’re looking at the band FB page and if you are looking – why not engage with us more?!
We love you and we’re missing you. We’re missing seeing you live. And it seemed like you were going to start engaging with us again. A post back in early August titled “White Hot Days” seemed to show a little bit of interactivity with a couple of fans and I thought, “Oh, he’s back! He’s really back!” And, as I say it’s been great that you’ve been posting more of late, but…
Anyway…I’m pissing in the wind. As if you visit here and will see any of this anyway.
I’m scared that my passion is waning. That my love for this band is dying out. I mean, surely this is the death knell, right? When you no longer feel that compelled to listen to the music any more?
Do I still ogle Jim? By heck I do! Do I listen to him talk? Listen to interviews and watch videos? The interviews, yes! The music videos…sometimes.
This is genuinely the first time I have felt this…waning in the passion of listening to the music. For the past week listening to anything else but Simple Minds.
I had been through a similar thing with David Bowie. Before Simple Minds, Bowie was my “go to” for everything. And I listened to him A LOT…and it waned when they came along. I listened to Bowie less because I had SM. But now I barely listen to either of them.
That memory of Boys From Brazil on the coach ride home is such a wonderful, special memory. I don’t want creating new memories like that to come to an end.
Dream Giver Redux (aka simpleminds.org) has had some updates – including some photos sent in from a lady in Brisbane. There was talk of SM performing in Brisbane for the first time in 1981 – I don’t doubt that. There was space in the calendar in 1981 for them to have played Brissie between their Gold Coast gig on Charlie’s birthday and their next penciled in gig on Dec 1st in Newcastle.
But the photos she sent in? They definitely come from 1982 by my reckoning. The way Jim and Charlie are dressed and look. It’s signature 1982 – Jim’s haircut and his clothes are definitely then.
My pedantry aside, the photos are great. I love these kind of photos! Ones taken crudely from people sneaking in cameras. Those were the days, eh? Don’t get me wrong – I love the pro photos! God knows I love the pro photos! But these amateur photos make the things feel more real.
Geez I wish I’d had been born in 1960 instead of 1970!
Update page with the photos on it can be viewed HERE
I had this arrive in the post this morning. It’s a piece of sobering beauty of the city’s recent past.
Virginia’s association with Glasgow goes far beyond her work of capturing Simple Minds in the early 80s. Her brother was a social worker in the city and so she would visit often. And her work wasn’t solely confined to rock photography, for she also did a lot of editorial work as well.
In visits to the city during 1978 and 1979, Virginia pictorially documented life in Glasgow. Selected photos now showcased in a photobook published by Cafe Royal Books.
These photobooks are available to purchase through the Cafe Royal Books website (link below) for £6.50 each (plus postage).
Thanks to this bloody pandemic and frigging Covid-19, White Hot Day, the Simple Minds fan convention, set to take place in the band’s ‘hame toon’ of Glasgow (Glesga) has been rescheduled.
The convention will now take place on Saturday, October 15th, 2022, at a new venue, Classic Grand on Jamaica Street, Just a short (less than 5 minutes) walk from Central station (for those making their way into Glasgow for the event).
Tickets available through Tickets Scotland – all previously purchased tickets remain valid for the new date/venue.
See you there!
When you consider the tracks on the album that have just gone by – the thumping drum and bass monster of Boys From Brazil and the pre-techno genre Euro dance beat of Love Song – there is a calming and stillness to This Earth. A soft rim shot (that’s what that particular percussive sound is called in the pro world) and slow haunting reverb guitar start the track off before Mick comes in with simple but gorgeous synth melody. It feels as if a magic carpet has arrived to take you on a meditative ride.
Soft little hushed tones from Jim accompany the music before he comes in with a pondering set of questions – “What’s your name? What’s your nation?” There is now – after the rush of the previous two album tracks – a definite “sense of order / sense of speed” – at least a reduction of speed to the more tranquil and more….meditative.
More fragmented lyrics still “shakes his hand / turns away / turns his back and walks away”. Jim seems to have recurring themes in his lyrics. Quite a bit of hand shaking and walking into, out of, or generally around spaces. There’s a lot of walking. I guess it is reflective of how much of a walker (yes, that’s “waLker” lol) he is. Some elements of songwriting, no matter how much you feel are not a reflection of you personally can’t help but be a mirror.
Reading up about it, it was initially an instrumental and was released as an instrumental only version on the B-side of Love Song. Jim added the vocal at the latter stages of the album recording. Probably having walked around Glasgow for days on end listening to the track god knows how many times on his(?) or Brian’s(?) Walkman. Each time I hear it I think of the reply I had from him about listening to music while walking (or jogging as the post he had written had alluded to) around Glasgow. I’ll include it below as it is a piece of “conversation” I cherish. I cherish all the interactions I’ve ever had with Jim and I despair the thought of it being past tense now. “All things must pass”, I guess. I feel as if I have been in mourning twice in recent years. Losing my mum at the end of 2019 and then…well…
I have probably highlighted this bit of conversation several times over already, but here goes…
I used to think that was a ridiculous kind of bravado to claim that. To say “no birdsong could compete”. But he is right. No birdsong can. But the birds aren’t trying to compete with Mick MacNeil’s or Charlie Burchill’s genius. They’re just the males in the species competing with each other for “top bird”. To get the best females. I pretty much think Mick had that part covered as well – without trying. Cheekbones you could cut yourself on.
For me, this song has Charlie Burchill’s best guitar solo. By far. It almost sounds off key. But that makes it stand out. And it’s haunting. Like his guitar is weeping. It is so beautiful. And then to match it to Jim’s lyrics after the solo ends – “screaming edge of light / shines so, shines so hard”. Those lines exactly encapsulate what Charlie has just produced with his guitar.
I had my “heavenly moment” with this song. The Walk Between Worlds tour of 2018 and it starting at the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow. We were just a few songs into the show. The songs that you’d expect to get things under way. The ones the early diehards love – I Travel, Celebrate, Love Song… and then…THEN came the B-side to Love Song in lyrical form. As soon as the jangling guitar, the soft percussive beat and synth melody began, I almost fell to my knees in raptures! There was talk of surprises being on the setlist leading up to the tour. Unexpected things that would keep the diehards happy. And of course by this time I was one of those diehards.
I had never expected much from the promise of surprises. I know sometimes that Jim says one thing and means another. I was cynical enough to keep my expectations in check for fear of disappointment. This one floored me. I was ssooo happy! I just wanted to shut myself off from everything else that was happening around me. I closed my eyes and just let the whole thing wash over me. To just let it soak into my skin and try to keep myself in the moment.
I don’t actually recall much of how the song actually sounded on the night. I remember Jim and Catherine sharing vocal duties on it. I remember feeling blissful hearing the music and anticipating Charlie’s solo which was just about note perfect from my vague memory of it. The memory is vague because I suffer from a kind of sensory and emotional “overload”. When things are very special or mean a lot to me, it overwhelms me and plays havoc with my memory recall. I have the worst memory as is – but when it is a special thing, a moment that I REALLY WANT TO REMEMBER – then that is guaranteed to be the thing I remember least – or worse still can’t recall at all. A lot of things I wipe from memory completely. Thankfully in these modern times with Smartphones being rather ubiquitous, there is not much need for me to have to rely on my memory recall – thank god! But it would still be lovely to be able to recall it first-hand from my own memory bank. To feel all the things I felt that night as the song was playing rather than the vagueness of knowing it meant the world to me to hear it being performed and wanting to savour the moment.
I know this is not the most information rich post about this song. There’s never really been much said of it. Never much talk about it. It’s quiet and sparse and glorious. Understated. Simple and beautiful. Mick MacNeil at his very best. Charlie Burchill at his very best also. And Jim Kerr at his most lyrically enigmatic. Quiet and sparse – but also expansive. Cinematic. “Worldwide on the widest screen” – latter lyrics that also sum up the atmosphere of This Earth That You Walk Upon. This whole planet is home to us. This big blue planet that we really should be taking much better care of but never will. Humans by nature are just far too greedy and selfish. Even those who otherwise appear altruistic still have these awful human foibles. We all do. Sadly it is also what makes us human. We don’t seem to be able to learn and change what makes us the worst example of humanity.
But alas, I digress some. For I am sure This Earth That You Walk Upon is just meant to be enjoyed as a reflection of all that is good and joyous about this world. The vastness of it. The nature of it. A soundtrack to the world, of our place in it and of nature.
I’ll offer two versions here. The album version with the lyrics and a version of it from the Walk Between Worlds Tour in 2018.
There is a path that leads me here to this post. A path that was an unexpected but wonderful stroll. The stroll continues, still. I’m not sure how much of this I can explain. Best to keep it a bit cryptic and vague. We love ambiguity – ain’t that right, Jim?
Suffice it to say one thing led to another.
There is a Sons And Fascination link here. Or should that be “Sons And Fascist Nations”? An explanation of that in due course.
A couple of my most prized possessions in my Simple Minds collection are copies of albums produced for the overseas market. One album released for the U.S. market via Stiff Records was titled Themes For Great Cities and was a compilation of tracks from Real To Real Cacophony (Premonition) to several tracks from Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. The other is a version of the Sons And Fascination album released by Virgin Records for the Central American market.
There are patterns on the cover. The artwork by the one and only Mr Malcolm Garrett, with photography by Peter Anderson. You can see shapes and a figure. I could see a figure on these covers.
Then there is the reissue of I Travel by Virgin Records in 1983 which bares a photo of Jim, taken by graphic designer Garry Mouat, on stage in motion as if marching. “In central Europe men are marching” always springs to mind seeing that cover. What I never really took in is what appears in the overlay of the photo of Jim and I didn’t see it properly until Malcolm was kind enough to show me this…
I did see that something was overlaid on the photo of Jim but what I didn’t know was that it was a variation on the figure seen on the Stiff Records “Themes” release and Mexican version of SAF.
I also missed the very obvious figure on the Sweat In Bullet sleeve art. Mostly due to the fact the figure has the head of a photo of Elizabeth Taylor.
And so…why did I alter the title of the album to “Sons And Fascist Nations” earlier, I hear you ask? Well, here’s the thing. In talking to Malcolm about the album cover photoshoot with Sheila Rock and asking him about the cars, we got to talking about other art relevant to the Sons And Fascination period. He told me about certain things that inspired some of the cover art. This included him telling me about the image above and that it was inspired by similar figures like it that had appeared in a book he had seen. The book in question is called “Mostra Della Rivoluzione Fascista”. Issued in 1932 to be a compendium to an exhibition on Fascist propaganda – a “celebration” of the 10th anniversary of Mussolini’s march on Rome. Seemingly exhibited in a building erected specifically for this solitary purpose – also known as the “Mostra Della Rivoluzione Fascista”. The exhibition proved so popular that it extended beyond its initial intended six month run and ran for two years. It was seen by almost 4 million visitors by its close towards the end of 1934.
You can view selected pages of the book by clicking HERE
I will state here Malcolm’s initial reluctance to have me write and publish this post and he had approval of this before posting. And I do understand the reluctance. You wouldn’t want to be seen condoning Fascism! But it’s about art and the aesthetic and not the political. Well, that is how I see it. This post nor we as individuals are condoning Fascism! But when it came to the use of the “Marching Men” (as they have come to be called during our conversations) and the line in I Travel “in central Europe men are marching” (long since changed by Jim since he now always sings “all over men are marching”). It conjured up the exact imagery used on the Virgin released I Travel cover.
I missed the image of the Marching Man on the Sweat In Bullet cover, yes, and I don’t see the link quite as obviously as with I Travel but listening over some of the lyrics then… it could be “ambition in motion” or to “grow in size” or to “grow more / take more” that makes it fit?
Either way, all four covers featuring the Marching Men are striking and impressive. And they certainly make a statement.
Another short point – as I was researching to do other posts that were SAF/SFC themed, I shared an article from New Sounds New Styles printed in 1981. Ian Cranna interviewed Jim for the piece. Check out the magazine layout! Guess who was behind the layout of New Sounds New Styles? Yes! You got it!
By this point, the band had only appeared on the back cover of their albums. On Life In A Day they were on the back cover and also on the back of Empires And Dance. Inner sleeves too. But only the inner sleeve of Real To Real Cacophony. Not up to this point on the FRONT COVER of an album. Not until Sons And Fascination. They were reluctant and the images of them are somewhat obscured but the images reflect the movement and motion of the music contained within. The “travelogue” musical sensibility of the album. It was a masterstroke. Perfectly encapsulating the audiovisual.
I find the whole aspect of the cover art for the Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call albums and singles…erm…fascinating. And if I do then I thought others would too.
Below are a couple of YouTube clips showing footage of the Mostra Della Rivoluzione Fascista, including a modern day (in Italian) look back at the exhibition as well as footage from the time of a visit to the exhibition from Mussolini himself!
A massive thank you to Malcolm Garrett for allowing me to tell the story of the Marching Men images and what inspired them into being.
Oh, at long last! After nine months in the tightest restrictions in all of the UK, Glasgow came out of Level 3 lockdown last Saturday, June 5th. I was happy to let a few days pass by at least until we tried to get out and see anything. Just bide time a little longer.
We hired a car from Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening for a 24 hour period. I was hoping for a splendid west coast sunset followed by a day in the east but…mother nature had other plans! Although conditions were dry on Tuesday night, it was quite overcast so the glorious sunset I was hoping to see wasn’t really going to happen.
A change of plan. We broke up what was the rest of the plan into two parts – which was probably a good thing in hindsight as it would have been a bit of a stretch to have tried to cram it all in on one day.
On Tuesday night we went to Falkirk to the wheel and to the Kelpies. The Falkirk Wheel really is an engineering marvel! And that part of the country is just beautiful! It was a stunning thing to behold – all of it! The wheel itself, the scenery around it. Just beautiful! And even more glorious to behold as the sun is setting. I wanted to try and get to the Kelpies at sunset so we could see them lit up. But we are so close to summer solstice and the days are ssooo long at this time of year that true nightfall doesn’t happen until after 11pm. The Kelpies were lit up but it was still a bit too bright to truly experience seeing them in the dark. They are incredible also. And the park around them is gorgeous.
Wednesday the weather was going to be dreich in Glasgow but the east promised to be brighter. So over to South Queensferry and to Portobello Beach near Edinburgh. We travelled north and crossed the Clackmannanshire bridge over the Forth and then headed south skirting near Dunfermline before crossing the Forth Road Bridge and stopping at a charging station for car electric car charging. Great views back over to the north of both the road bridge and the rail bridge from a little observation point at the charging station. Took a stroll into the town while the car charged up. Walked past a hoose. Took some snaps. Watched trains go over the rail bridge. Grappled over which of the million ice cream parlours there were in the town which to buy from (you must have been spoiled for choice when you wanted an ice cream when you lived there, Jim! Lol) – then decided on none in the end. Bought sandwiches and carrot cake slices and went back to the viewing point and ate while taking in the view back from there.
Car charged up and onto Portobello Beach. Tried to work out which groyn – and YES, those things are called “groyns”….those wooden things that look like broken piers – the Minds were stood at for their early Zoom photoshoot. Asked the OH to take a photo of me by the one I thought it was. Inadvertently looked as despondent as Jim did in said shoot. Lol
The Edinburgh bypass by that time in the afternoon was a joy [sarcasm] and the only real crappy point to a really lovely day, The sunshine was on Leith as we left and it got increasingly dreich as we headed back west. By the time we got to Glasgow though it wasn’t as gloomy as it had looked when we had set out.
A lovely day.
All that remains is to ask – who did it better? Looking despondent – me or him?
UPDATE: Seeing as you asked, Scott 😁