Themes for a great City: Simple Minds live in Cardiff.
By Rob Jones
Of the galaxy of gigs that one has attended there are also reams of regrets about key concerts that were never experienced-and, Simple Minds at their 1981 creative peak is one that got away! Unfortunately, the current incarnation of these one time electro rock pioneers does not make amends for those yesteryear desires.
There are strong feelings amongst the punters at the Motorpoint Arena as to what periods of the Simple Minds career would bring the most joy and the earlier the better is the prominent thread. However, what followed were several peaks and far too many troughs.
Jim Kerr is more joker as he exhibits many tired rock front man stereotypes. Bono! No! No! The calls to get hands in the air had many people clapped out! Kerr also had the crowd doing a lot of work as he continued to direct his microphone in to their area looking for a sing-a-long response. However, many of the paying public were receiving a series of songs with missing lyrics. Jim waved excessively; dad danced; and, introduced band members on one too many occasions. Who needs a blistering I Travel interrupted to be told that Mel Gaynor is on the drums?!?
The show was split in to two sets and an early 8pm start caught a few late arrivals out. The opening section commences with a throwaway cover of The Call tune Let the day Begin before proceedings wander between credible new material such as Blindfolded and Honest Town was and classic anthems of the ilk of Glittering Prize, I Travel, New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), Love Song and Waterfront. Unfortunately, an anaemic acoustic The American was stripped of its glory and an interminable mega-mix of Don’t You (Forget about Me) closed the opening in a state of farce. The rest of the first half was best forgotten including the Tori Amos leanings of guest Catherine A.D. At the interval Simple Minds were narrowly ahead and a short break still had the crowd anticipating which way the evening could go.
The second period commenced and at least half an hour of aural agony ensued as vocal visitor Sarah Brown led substandard songs in to an unacceptable M People arena. Jim Kerr then joined her for what was akin to Roxette and the golden memories of what Simple Minds had once achieved were being erased by this sonic stress. A return to the past revived several hits and the audience responded accordingly to: All the things she Said, Someone Somewhere in Summertime and Sanctify Yourself. An encore included a preposterous interpretation of The Doors epic Riders on the Storm and then the band closed with their Alive and Kicking chart champion.
A near two and a half hours of a Saturday night could have been exacerbated with a far better choice of material and the elimination of dross. It is impossible to dislike a band that has brought us the immaculate albums: Life in a Day, Real to Real Cacophony, Empires and Dance, Sons and Fascination, Sister Feelings Call and New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) and check these out via the X5 box set. However, it is also unacceptable that such an innovative act can become largely bankrupt of inspiring ideas. In 2015 it is sad to report that the creative kudos of Simple Minds is partially alive and barely kicking! Their report card reads ‘can do much better because a generous 4 out of 10 is just not good enough!’