Live Review: Simple Minds

80s pomp-rockers hold back the years.

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Jim Kerr stalks the expansive O2 stage like a man warming up for a long race. He stretches, he rushes the lip of the stage and he holds one very impressive note during Up On The Catwalk while practically flat on his back. Older – and wider – he and his audience might be, but time has not diminished Simple Minds’ impact or their ability to near fill the cavernous O2.

Guitarist Charlie Burchill may stay upright for the duration of the show, but his ringing guitar tone – especially prescient in songs like _Someone Somewhere (In Summertime) _or the indefatigable _Waterfront _– is as enduring as it might have ever been. At points his playing is so overwhelming that even Jim Kerr stands back, arms folded, and simply admires him.

A pulsing New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) from the 1982 album of the same name is the high-water mark of the evening though, from a record that even Kerr refers to as their “holy grail”. The song slowly builds to a near hysterical crescendo that has grown men clutching strangers until the very last note is rung.

By the show’s closing number, Sanctify Yourself, Kerr has become more chorus-master than singer, leaving the job to backing vocalists, the swaying Sarah Brown and the murderous looking Catherine AD, both brilliant in their respective parts. But by then the night already belonged to Simple Minds. They’re a force of nature, still.

Philip Wilding

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion.