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Someone Singing In The Shower

Another year, another Simple Minds gig. They do tour a lot, and for this I am glad.

This time it was a gig with a special remit. The tour was called 5X5 Live, which had nothing to do with Faith Lehane, and more to do with the fact that they were going to do 5 songs each from each of their first five albums. For those of you wondering, this was treating Sons And Fascination and Sister Feelings Call as a single album, so we're basically talking about everything up to and including New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84).

In some ways this was actually quite new material to me. Despite being a Minds fan for over twenty years, it was only 3 or so years ago that I finally got around to buying the first 3 albums and listening to them in full. I already knew a fair number of songs from each, but there were some gems I only discovered then.

Anyway, on to the gig. It was my first visit to the O2 Academy in Birmingham, which turned out to be pretty similar to the old Carling Academy in terms of layout and capacity - well, maybe a bit smaller. It was also something like the third gig I'd ever been to where there was no support.

On the way in I saw a sheet of paper pinned up which had the set timings on. It listed the first half as "Life In A Day / Real To Real Cacophony", which left me thinking that this was going to be a play through of the tracks in chronological order.

As the lights went down the intro started up... I'm not sure if it was based around any track in particular as I couldn't hear it clearly enough over the crowd, but what was obvious was that it featured riffs from tracks from the relevant era. Every time people recognised one there was a massive cheer as if it was going to be the opening song. The 'chronological order' idea was quickly sunk as the intro segued into I Travel. This is one of my favourites from the 'very early' Minds era, and it got me straight into gigging mode (ie, dancing like a twat).

As they played 30 Frames A Second and then Today I Died Again it seemed that even if they weren't doing songs in Chronological Order, they were grouping albums together. Celebrate reinforced this, and even though I'd told myself that I wasn't going to keep count, I found it hard not to. That was 4 tracks from Empires And Dance down, and none of them had been the track I very very much wanted them to do.

I have to admit, I didn't know Scar by name when they did it. It formed part of the blur in my mind of stuff from the earliest albums that I knew quite well but not well enough to know which song was which, or even which album they were from.

And THEN. First song EVAR! They did Life In A Day, which if I'm honest I expected them to start with, and even when they didn't I had the song down as a certainty to appear at some point. That said, it was still a special moment.

I think it was in Hunter and the Hunted that I started getting peeved with the group of drunken twats behind me that kept stumbling into me. I was being very brave being all up in standing room and stuff but they kept making me cram myself into a smaller and smaller space, to the point where at one point I stood on someone else's foot. Oops.

Premonition and Wasteland are both songs I'm less familiar with, although I suspect that will change.

When you're in standing room at a gig and you're a bit shorter than average one of the things that REALLY GETS ON YOUR TITS is when people keep holding their phones in the air to take photos. Taking the odd one or two is fine, I can understand people wanting to do that - I took one myself. But to spend the whole time taking snaps just doesn't make sense to me. I'm at a gig to enjoy the moment, not to try and capture it.

Anyway, at this point, the phone-snappers had to stuff it, because it was time for a massive crowd-pleaser: Love Song. The crowd suddenly became a lot more animated, or put another way, mental. I had a feeling it was going to be the last song of the first half, and it would've been a good ending, but not so.

There were two songs I was really really hoping I'd get to see tonight. One of them I made reference to earlier - the one I was hoping for from Empires and Dance. The other was an amazing track from Life In A Day called Pleasantly Disturbed, which we got now. It's something of an epic - not the sort of thing you'd expect on a band's first album.

And then, they finished the first half with Room, a song I wasn't entirely surprised to hear, but which a) I had seen live before, and b) was the fifth song from Empires and Dance of the evening, but c) wasn't the song I was really really really hoping for. I are disappoint! Well, not really, but yeah.

During the interval I treated myself to a glass of tap water from the bar (living it LARGE) and navigated myself to the opposite side of the auditorium so that I was away from the drunken twats that had spoiled some of the first half for me.

By the end of The American I had discovered that while yes I had escaped the drunken twats, I'd found a spot with EVEN MORE phone-snappers in front of me. And as they played more songs from Sons and Fascination it became apparent that one of the phone-snappers seemed to be after videoing every single fucking song!

Phone-snappers aside, I was absolutely in my element by this point. One of my all time favourite bands doing the songs that made them what they were, many of which I had never seen them perform before. Absolute. Fucking. Bliss.

The batch of songs from Real To Real Cacophony made me realise that there are more stand-out songs on their than I realise. I've always seen it as a bit of a weird album, and I don't think I'm alone there, but this batch gave me a new appreciation for it. Factory is probably my favourite off the album, and it was neither a surprise or a disappointment that they did it.

Then there was a surprise. I hadn't been keeping count quite as thoroughly as some might expect, but I was pretty clear on how many songs they'd done from Empires And Dance. Maybe I'd counted wrong though, because after Factory they launched into the intro for This Fear Of Gods, the song I had most wanted to see tonight. I'm pretty sure the people around me were pretty bemused by my triumphant cheer and the fact that I suddenly engaged full on dance-like-a-twat mode, but sod 'em. I was there to enjoy myself.

After that I was pretty much satisfied... it didn't much matter what other songs they did, although one album had thus far been pretty under-represented and it didn't take much to guess what tracks they'd pick.

So yes. Promised You A Miracle, then Someone Somewhere In Summertime. An awesome round-off to the main set. And as soon as they'd walked off, I did some quick totting up in my head and decided I knew what songs would make up the encore.

If all you've ever heard of Simple Minds is the hit singles of the mid-80s, then listen to Theme For Great Cities. The Minds have always had a bit of a thing for doing instrumentals, but this is the one to which all their others are compared and found wanting. While I have seen it done in part before, this was the first time I'd witnessed a proper live performance of it, and it was an absolute joy.

The song in the encore that caught me out was Someone. Clearly the mental lists I'd checked out at the end of the main set weren't quite right.

And then Chelsea Girl. This is a song that me and my brother played so much when we were teenagers that my Dad is still convinced to this day that it was a hit single. No Dad. Much as it may deserve that accolade, it does not have it. And this performance of it... it lacked something. The energy wasn't quite there, sadly.

The last song was always going to be New Gold Dream, and by now it was pretty obvious that the other song left to play was Glittering Prize. Glittering Prize was awesome, best performance of it I've seen, although a lot of that was to do with the crowd participation. And New Gold Dream is always fab. One last chance to dance your tits off and jump up and down like a nutter, which of course I did.

I dunno that it was the absolute best Minds gig I've been to, but it was close. Seeing all those early songs was amazing, and I'm glad I didn't pass the gig up (I was tempted to, when it was first announced). Woah.

  1. I Travel
  2. 30 Frames A Second
  3. Today I Died Again
  4. Celebrate
  5. Scar
  6. Life In A Day
  7. Hunter And The Hunted
  8. Premonition
  9. Wasteland
  10. Love Song
  11. Pleasantly Disturbed
  12. Room

  13. interval

  14. The American
  15. In Trance As Mission
  16. 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall
  17. Calling Your Name
  18. Changeling
  19. Factory
  20. This Fear Of Gods
  21. Promised You A Miracle
  22. Someone Somewhere In Summertime

  23. encore
  24. Theme For Great Cities
  25. Someone
  26. Chelsea Girl
  27. Glittering Prize
  28. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)


( 2 Bitches — Bitch, Plz )
27th Feb, 2012 19:46 (UTC)
Sounds amazing! I love gigs that inspire you to dance like a loon. And how I wish and wish and wish you-know-who would do a similar concert of all his old stuff.

Thanks for the write up!
26th Oct, 2012 19:04 (UTC)
Well, I've never actually seen them live, as they don't come to my corner of the world. Very jealous!
( 2 Bitches — Bitch, Plz )


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