Simple pleasures as band returns to where it began

Simple Minds
Simple Minds

Simple Minds were part of the soundtrack to the 80s thanks to their arena rock, anthemic melodies and elaborate vocals.

The Scottish band even performed at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute in 1988.

And now, with almost three decades of musical success, they are back with a new album – their 16th – and a new lease of life.

Big Music pays homage to the band’s past, but also nods to a very different Simple Minds.

Frontman Jim Kerr says: “Our songs have always been a snapshot of a moment in time and Big Music is no exception.

“But there are also elements of nostalgia in that a lot of the themes are the same ones that fuelled us on Empires And Dance and Sons And Fascination.

“We are still writing songs about great cities and the movement of people. It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

“For whatever reason, people across the world are always on the move.”

The band also pays tribute to their musical colleagues.

Let The Day Begin nods to 1980s band The Call and their singer and guitarist Michael Been, who died in 2010.

The Call toured with Simple Minds in the 1980s and they became firm friends – they wrote Let The Day Begin in response to Simple Minds’ smash hit Waterfront.

Jim says: “The Call were a great band.

“They listened to the John Peel Show every night and wanted to sound like Joy Division, but they came from Oklahoma and couldn’t stop themselves from sounding like The Band.”

‘”They were huge Simple Minds fans, and Let The Day Begin, with its Doors-like rhythm, was their answer to Waterfront.

“We played it live in America and people went crazy, so we recorded it. It’s a track we really wanted to do justice to.”

The album follows 2005’s Black & White 050505 and 2009’s Graffiti Soul and while this is the first recording in five years, the band been sufficiently busy.

Jim says: “We are constantly writing music and we often spent up to six months of a year touring. We like to keep that momentum.”

The band began in Glasgow in 1977 as a punk act called Johnny and the Self Abusers.

Jim s ays: “We left Glasgow, but the city has a big influence on us, but it was also a cyclical thing as we left eventually, but now we’re back rehearsing for this tour.

“We’re rehearsing in a room that’s about 100 yards away from where I was born on the street where my grandparents live.

“This sort of stuff reminds of who we are. And it reminds us of what we wanted when we were younger.

“We made our live debut as 15 year-olds on a stage in the same building, a former working man’s club.

“It feels good to be using that space again.”

With a touring cast that now sees Jim and Charlie Burchill joined by stalwart drummer Mel Gaynor, keyboardist Andy Gillespie, Ged Grimes, backing vocalist Sarah Brown and Catherine AD on aadditional keys and guitars, Simple Minds have a settled line-up that enables them to look and feel like a proper band again.

The album has an equally impressive line-up.

It was created thanks to an array of collaborators including co-writer Iain Cook – of Glasgow band Chvrches – and producers Andy Wright and Gavin Goldberg.

But the album’s accompanying tour will not just feature Simple Mind’s new material.

Jim says: “We want to play music from every period throughout our career.

“We’ve developed a really good Simple Minds set of two sections and we tour it over a 26-stop tour.

“There are about 12 or 13 songs that remain on the list and the rest we chop and change.”

The band’s live reputation is still in good stead.

Jim proudly says: “We are getting excellent live reviews, which is fantastic.”

Simple Minds have had a plethora of big hits throughout their career, which reached stadium status in the mis eighties.

Singles included Alive and Kicking, Don’t You Forget about Me, Waterfront and Belfast Child.

Some of these songs, along with new material from Big Music, will form part of Simple Minds’ set at City Hall in Sheffield city centre on Sunday April 12.

* For tickets, priced from £43.45,visit Sheffield City Hall or call 0114 278 9789.