Simple Minds at The Olympia Theatre (photos & review)

Simple Minds

Simple Minds played the first of 30 dates on their new ‘Greatest Hits +’ tour in Dublin on the 25th of March. Presumeably, the ‘+’ means that Jim Kerr has tested positive for the most advanced case of Bononucleosis ever recorded. Bored of the occasional petty row with the sunglassed frontman (having never fully recovered from Simple Minds’ branding as ‘a lesser U2’), Glasgow-born Jim Kerr has instead resorted to mimicry with the hope of sullying the philanthropist’s future efforts by association, in flogging the dead horse that is a Simple Minds show. However, the pinky-blue/greeny-purple garishness that flooded The Olympia on Monday night was a brilliant spectacle, and if you’re not prepared to wallow decadently in the gaudy and overwrought, then away to U2 with you. Regardless of the band’s inability to procure an album worthy of praise since 1984’s “Sparkle in the Rain,” the show was a ripper, relying primarily on the strongest tracks from the early ’80s albums and dipping into the later work for singles.

The night opened with ‘Broken Glass Park,’ one of two songs released specifically for the tour-accompanied Greatest Hits album, and then straight into the favourites: ‘Waterfront,’ followed by ‘Once Upon a Time,’ followed by ‘Up on the Catwalk.’ The capacity crowd loved every bit of it, and although towards the end of the night Kerr had trouble striking home an anecdotal when-I-was-young-this-was-all-fields over the bare force of fever-pitch ‘la-la-la-la’ chants caused by ‘Don’t You (Forget About me),’ he kept a consistently energetic rapport with the audience until the end of the three-song encore; a triumphant, new-wave cowboy, microphone-lasso oscillating overhead. Thankfully, the analogy stops short of Kerr mounting trusty steed/backing vocalist Sarah Brown on-stage, who has been performing with the band since Copenhagen 2009 and is regularly led by the hand from her central pedestal to take the spotlight throughout the show for vocal solos and song-finale time. Her powerful operatic voice is actually one of the best parts of the show, and she was well-received by the crowd.

The current lineup features two original members – Charlie Burchill on guitar (favouring a white Gibson semibody and Les Paul) and Kerr himself – with recurring drummer Mel Gaynor, and more recent additions Ged Grimes (bass guitar) and Andy Gillespie (keyboards). If the audience’s attention became to dwindle just before the intermission, the revised version of ‘Book of Brilliant Things’ seemed to sharpen up everyone in the room with an upbeat, modulated-electronic return to the original energy. This sort of synth-driven interpolation, along with instrumental pieces captained by Burchill, showcased the venue’s ability to stand up to heavily modulated sounds, as always one of the top spots in Dublin.

Simple Minds should stay out of the studio – should have packed it in years ago. They are, however, still well able to put on a belting show; their fans will return to see them unquestionably, and with good reason. Still humming ‘The American’ and ‘Promised You a Miracle’ – the two most rousing tunes performed on the night. The tour continues in the U.K.

Review by Luke Etherton.
Photos by David Doyle Photography.


Lucy Ivan

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