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simplemindsHalle Münsterland, Münster, Germany
11th May 2022
Simple Minds - “40 Years of Hits Tour” 2022

“Celebrating 40 Years of Hits” is the motto of SIMPLE MINDS’ recent tour - and thanks to the damned pandemic it’s rather 42 years now! After several postponements the SIMPLE MINDS gig in Münster, Germany, finally could happen. And the RoD ream was there, of course, given that some from our core team actually live in this city.

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Scotland is home to quite a lot of fine music. PRIMAL SCREAM, BELLE AND SEBASTIAN, WET WET WET, GLASVEGAS, BIG COUNTRY, CHVRCHES, Midge Ure of ULTRAVOX fame, BIG COUNTRY, BIFFY CLYRO, FRANZ FERDINAND, MOGWAI, TRAVIS, punk godfathers THE EXPLOITED, and so on. The list is very long indeed. Most of these bands hail from Glasgow, the biggest city of the wee country in the north of the Great Britain. SIMPLE MINDS started as JOHNNY & THE SELF-ABUSERS in Glasgows Punk scene in the late 1970s, and after a few line-up changes, Jim Kerr switching from keyboard to lead vocals and a renaming to SIMPLE MINDS the band settled and delved into the 1980s with a string of hit singles such as ‘Promised You a Miracle’ (1982) or ‘Waterfront’ from 1983.

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The year 1985 was pivotal for the band, as they released their biggest hit to date, ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ from the ‘Breakfast Club’ movie soundtrack, as well as the ‘Alive and Kicking’ single, followed by the chart-topping album ‘Once Upon a Time’. SIMPLE MINDS turned into global stars and a stadium act, one of the biggest bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Later the star of SIMPLE MINDS was waning, and for a while the band was reduced to a duo of Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill. The 2000s saw SIMPLE MINDS getting back on their feet, especially as a touring act, and after all with releasing no less than seven studio albums. The last one, ‘Walk Between Worlds’ from 2018, reached number four in the UK album chart, so it’s fair to say that SIMPLE MINDS are still alive and kicking today. https://www.simpleminds.com / https://www.facebook.com/simpleminds

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Music & Performance
The name of the tour was wrong from the start, actually. Founded in 1977 in Glasgow, UK, SIMPLE MINDS released their debut album ‘Life In A Day’ in 1979, and included the minor hit single ‘Chelsea Girl’. This makes it 41 years up to 2020. Nit-picking aside, the band around singer Jim Kerr is still going strong in 2022 and their tour attests to this greatly. With no support act, the Scottish band kickstarted into a very long show which consists of two main sets with a twenty-minute break in-between plus, of course, an encore. I actually liked the idea of having such a break, as you might know them e.g., from theatre plays, as both band and fans are not the youngest anymore to be honest and it simply gives you the opportunity to go to the bar or having a smoke without missing anything.

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SIMPLE MINDS started the evening with ‘Act Of Love’, probably the oldest song in the set. Originally recorded in 1978 still under the JOHNNY & THE SELF-ABUSERS moniker, the band released an updated version last year and this version was of course what we got to hear at the gig. The first selection of songs focussed on the early albums ‘Empires And Dance’ (1980) and their masterpiece ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’ from 1982 with ‘Book Of Brilliant Things’ from their 1984 album ‘Sparkle In The Rain’ thrown in, which introduced the brilliant voice of Sarah Brown who would deliver backing vocals for the rest of the night. The two blockbuster ballads ‘Mandela Day’ and ‘Belfast Child’ finished the first set and the crowd rushed to bar, bathroom and smoker’s lounge.

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The Halle Münsterland was really packed so it was nice to get some fresh air. The sound in this old venue wasn’t also the best. Built in the 1920s, the acoustics of this 6,500-capacity hall have always been tricky, hence the guitar sounded clanging and sometimes even screeching while the lower frequencies were lacking and the keyboards were at times also too low in the mix. Not the band’s fault, of course, but the guy who mixed JEAN MICHEL JARRE so brilliantly in the very same place some years ago could probably give SIMPLE MINDS’ FOH team a few hints how to handle this old shed.

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The second part of the show started with one of the best instrumentals ever made, ‘Theme For Great Cities’, before singer Jim Kerr returned to the stage for a performance of ‘Dolphins’, an atmospheric ballad from the 2005 album ‘Black & White 050505’. I had hoped to hear the single ‘Home’ from this album but ‘Dolphins’ remained the only cut from it. The 1983 single ‘Waterfront’ speeded things up again, and now it was clearly big hit time. UK top 10 single ‘She’s a River’, the epic ‘Someone Somewhere in Summertime’, the beautiful ‘All the Things She Said’, all the big ones you would expect at a SIMPLE MINDS show.

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And of course, the unavoidable ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ with an extra-long singalong section. Just when you think the crowd sang the oohs and ahs for long enough the chorus kicked in again at the right moment. The crowd absolutely loved it, and although I heard this song too many times in my life, I also loved it. The following ‘Let It All Come Down’ from the ‘Street Fighting Years’ album felt like a full break and anticlimactic after this highlight. Beautiful song but a bit misplaced in the set. Although Kerr announced that it was the last song, he just fooled us as my personal favourite, the monumental title song of their ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’, followed anyway.

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For the first song of the encore, an acoustic rendition of ‘Speed Your Love to Me’, keyboarder and latest entry in the live line-up Berenice Scott, took over lead vocal duties. She has a beautiful voice indeed and the fans obviously didn’t mind that 62-year-old Kerr had another break for this one. But he returned with full force for roof-shattering renditions of superhits ‘Alive And Kicking’ and ‘Sanctify Yourself’, which ended two and a half hours with SIMPLE MINDS. It was a great concert night for sure, with a few points off for a messy sound and one or two odd setlist choices. 45 years after their first incarnation in Glasgow’s music scene SIMPLE MINDS still sound vivid and agile.

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Last time I saw them was in 2015 at the smaller Jovel Music Hall, literally just across the street from the Halle Münsterland, and while the 2015 gig had the better sound it was great to see the band packing the much bigger place years later. The only way is up, right?

Setlist
Set 1:
01. Act of Love
02. I Travel
03. Celebrate
04. Glittering Prize
05. Promised You a Miracle
06. Book of Brilliant Things
07. Big Sleep
08. Mandela Day
09. Belfast Child
Set 2:
10. Theme For Great Cities
11. Dolphins
12. Waterfront
13. She’s a River
14. Once Upon a Time
15. Someone Somewhere in Summertime
16. See the Lights
17. All the Things She Said
18. Don’t You (Forget About Me)
19. Let It All Come Down
20. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
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21. Speed Your Love to Me
22. Alive and Kicking
23. Sanctify Yourself

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 7
Light: 8
Total: 8.3 / 10

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All pictures from the Saturday show by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)

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