A representative of a music production company once told my favorite lady Yasmin that Simple Minds would not be about to mount a tour of the United States. They wanted too much money for their current place in the echelon of UK bands, the rep said.
It was quite satisfying then to see this fellow proved wrong as the 9:30 Club solidly sold out its $40-a-ticket show of the Glasgow quintet, who were in fine form for a 35th anniversary greatest hits tour. Vocalist Jim Kerr and company only hit seven dates in North America, so it was doubly satisfying that D.C. was on the tour bill.
I went to the show hoping that the band would not neglect its earlier material in favor of radio staples that got them noticed in the United States after “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” the number one hit they logged from The Breakfast Club soundtrack. As the band broke through here, their sound shifted direction to my ear away from the synth-driven music they embraced in their earlier albums toward soulful arena rock. While pleasing nevertheless, I do not find those radio hits like “Alive and Kicking” as satisfying as some of the material more obscure to Americans.
Well, I was not disappointed! Kerr and the band struck up new song “Broken Glass Park” and followed it up with “Waterfront,” a classic from their fifth album. But it was really the stretch of “Glittering Prize,” “New Gold Dream” and “Theme for Great Cities,” near the halfway mark, that really got me excited. A significant part of the audience actually knew the words to “Glittering Prize” and sung along to it. A strong selection of songs from my favorite album, New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84), was more than enough to make the show for me. The band was in great form–they sounded polished and they had some strong interpersonal chemistry.
Kerr was able to take a break during the soaring “Theme for Great Cities,” as well as during the follow-up, a cover of Kraftwerk’s “Neon Lights” that allowed backup singer Sarah Brown to steal the spotlight for a bit. She sounded terrific, and I was very pleased that this lineup of Simple Minds had embraced the band’s New Romantic legacy.
Simple Minds continued to showcase New Gold Dream with a stirring rendition of “Someone Somewhere in Summertime” and even closed the set with “Promised You a Miracle,” an amazing classic. Before that closing number, however, the band played “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” to the delight of the audience. I too was actually relieved to hear it as I previously heard that Kerr harbored distaste for the song for years, as Simple Minds did not write it.
The encore put a spotlight on the US hit album Once Upon a Time with “Sanctify Yourself,” “Alive and Kicking” and “Ghostdancing.” Although I came listening for slightly earlier material, these songs sounded really great — and the audience ate them up. The band closed with a cover of “Gloria” by Them (mixed with a medley of Al Green’s “Take Me to the River”), which allows Ms. Brown to shine again and permits Kerr to provide proper introductions to members of his band.
With the success of this short tour, it seems that Simple Minds may be back in the United States after a touring absence of 11 years! A charming and confident Kerr seemed elated by the response to all of the songs from across his career, and his enthusiasm was carried in his Scottish brogue as he thanked the audience for its warm reception.
Simple Minds surely will return again soon, and I hope that they will address my only complaint from this show–no performance of the cult favorite “I Travel” from their third album, Empires and Dance! So I have a reason to see them again. You should see them as well if you can when they play Canadian dates Monday and Tuesday and close out the tour in New York City on Thursday.