Simple Minds - Barrowlands, Glasgow Sat 25 Feb 2012
Revisit to first five albums a reminder of their potency
In these recessionary times, it’s easy to suppose the manufacturers of dry ice are thanking their lucky stars for 1980s art-rock bands on the comeback and reunion trail. Clouds of the stuff create precisely the proper atmosphere in which men with backcombed hair can best purvey lyrics based on the last really heavy novel they read, while the guitarist does something woozy with the effects pedal.
Fittingly, Simple Minds take the Barrowlands stage in a fug redolent of a gas attack on the Somme. The Minds never really went away, of course, but they are now irretrievably in their nostalgic phase, the public having proved resistant for two decades now to registering the smallest interest in their new material. And so, rather than going for the classic-album-played-in-its entirety approach, as chosen by such contemporaries as The Cure and the Bunnymen, Jim Kerr and compadres have favoured a pick-and-mix option, reanimating five songs from each of their first five albums. This was when the Minds really mattered, stopping just shy of the period they became a kind of supply U2, deputising whenever the Irish band were unable to turn up and sing out for the lumpen masses. Before then, though, no band fused Teutonic electronica, chilly funk and Velvets-style rock with the suppleness Simple Minds did. The evidence - 'Love Song', 'The American', 'Life In A Day', 'Sweat In Bullet' - was in abundance tonight, in an unusually intimate venue that held nostalgic resonance of its own, the band having shot in 1983 the video for 'Waterfront' here. Hence, there was really no faulting the showmanship; for Kerr and Charlie Burchill this must have been like playing their own front room. On record, though, so much of this music was sparse, frigid and mildly unsettling. For the stage it’s undergone some sessions with a personal trainer and had its teeth capped, emerging sparklier and more aerobicised. And leaving the listener wondering what ingenious form the band’s next amble down memory lane might take.