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news 2017

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Here's some exta information and pictures from the band's second Zermatt Unplugged concert. This was the first to feature the new acoustic live-up (and the chandelier... although it appears to be a different Chandelier to the one they had at Hackney - perhaps Elton's bathroom had more than one?)

Zermatt Unplugged, Kaufleuten, Zurich, Switzerland
29th October, 2016
Main Set: The American / New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) / See The Lights / Chat / Glittering Prize / Stand By Love / Waterfront / Andy Warhol / Chelsea Girl / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / Chat / Dancing Barefoot / Speed Your Love To Me / Promised You A Miracle / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Sanctify Yourself
Encore: Alive And Kicking / Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)

This was the band's second special acoustic show.

"Rehearsals are finished. We now look forward to Saturday night when we will get to perform for the first time many of these new acoustic arrangements that feature on the soon to be released Acoustic album. After Zurich we have a few days off (the last for this year) and I have been thinking about trying to get back to Scotland asap as it will be my last chance this year to get some hiking/hillwalking done. Then the thought occurred to me. "Don't they have a few hills/ mountains in Switzerland? Is that not what the country is famous for after all?" Anyway, we will see what pans out. In the meantime just the other day someone asked if there is particular music I like to listen to while hiking? No, is the answer. I like to listen to the sounds of the landscape. However quite often certain songs come into my head. The Silencers' version of Wild Mountain Thyme is one of them. - Jim, 29th October 2016.

"Featuring a new acoustic band line up. Playing songs from throughout our career, plus at least a couple that we have never played live previously. That is quite a few "firsts" right there. See you tonight!" - Jim, 29th October 2016.

"Thanks to all for the reception in Zurich last night. We appreciate all the support that we are getting for the acoustic shows. It is obviously a new format for Simple Minds - and one that we intend to master - in our own sweet way. We really enjoyed ourselves last night. We learned some things. And it looked like we made a lot of people happy. What can be better that that? All that is left to say is thanks to the Zermatt Unplugged team. After all it was their invite to Simple Minds, back at the start of the year, that subsequently led to this new acoustic album from Simple Minds - soon to be released. They were the catalyst.. so thanks to all of them!" - Jim, 30th October 2016

Many thanks to Lionello for the pictures.



A Day On The Green, Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley, Australia
4th February, 2017
With: The B-52s
Main Set: Waterfront / Love Song / Blindfolded / Book Of Brilliant Things / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / Hunter And The Hunted / Real Life / Once Upon A Time - All The Things She Said / See The Lights / Promised You A Miracle - Glittering Prize / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Let It All Come Down / Sanctify Yourself
Encore: Big Music / Alive And Kicking / New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)

"Great memories from last time, beautiful countryside and a red hot gig. We will be looking to make it even better this time. Thanks to all who are coming to listen to our big music. See you later tonight... after the wonderful B-52's." - Jim, 3rd Feb 2017.

"A lot of of energy came our way from the audience in Yarra Valley. We enjoyed it very much last time - 5 years ago. But tonight we "felt it" so much more. Beautiful evening, among some pretty countryside. It feels great to be touring in Australia - an energising experience. Thanks to all for coming to see the show, we appreciate it. Next up, heading towards Adelaide, expect us to give 100%." - Jim, 4th February 2017.

Many thanks to Otto for the set-list.



Updates to the discography:



The Acoustic International Promo also includes a slightly different press release. It's printed across the inside of the gatefold of the release itself, which is a very nice touch, and much more presentable than a sticker or insert.

SIMPLE MINDS - ACOUSTIC

Simple Minds have taken their time in coming up with first acoustic album. But given that they made their biggest commercial impact with towering singles like Promised You A Miracle and Don't You (Forget About Me), that's not surprising. The band became the standard bearers for a new kind of rock music in the Eighties when they added big chorus and widescreen atmospherics to the art-rock invention of the post-punk era. So, even in the 'unplugged' upswing that followed, when practically every major rock band stripped down their songs and played then acoustically, Simple Minds shied away.

But now, on Simple Minds Acoustic, they have found a way of doing the acoustic thing without losing their essence, and a dozen Simple Minds songs loved by millions now sound softer, more organic and even more likely to leave a lasting imprint. The synths are no more - but the Celtic soul remains.

The fact that the album sessions entailed a sentimental return ot their Glasgow roots for Jim and guitarist Charlie Burchill helped, with some songs recorded in Gorbals Studio, a former railway workers' social club located a stone's throw from the high-rise estates of the city's South Side where the pair took their first musical steps. It was in this building that Jim and Charlie played their first gig, as teenagers in a school glam-rock band, and emotions were understandably high on their return. "The memories came flooding back the moment we were in," says Jim. "Our parents used to drink there. An old school friend turned it into a recording studio, but he kept the original room with its little stage."

With so much music to choose from, picking a running order wasn't easy. But there were still some numbers that had to feature. A quartet of songs from 1982's New Gold Dream album, all still performed live, were among them. For Promised You A Miracle, the band are joined by fellow Scot K T Tunstall, whose distinctive vocals, acoustic strumming and rolling bass groove transform a piece of music that was the band's first 'pure pop song' when it arrived in 1982. "KT was great," says Jim of their duet. "We sent her an outline of the song based on an arrangement I'd done with Martha Wainwright, but KT turned it on its head. She really set about it!" With regular backing singer Sarah Brown soulfully to the fore, there is also a powerful feminine presence on Glittering Prize, another New Gold Dream song. "The female musicians are very prominent," continues Jim. "Sarah's singing is beautiful, and Cherisse's percussion is important too." The two remaining New Gold Dream tracks, Someone Somewhere In Summertime and the title track, add deeper, darker textures while retaining the panoramic ambience of old.


Simple Minds Acoustic goes back further, too, with Charlie adding Spanish guitar to Chelsea Girl (from 1979 debut album Life In A Day). He also supplies acoustic lines with the feel of Led Zeppelin III on The American, the swaggering song that was the band's first single for Virgin in 1981. There are later highlights, too, with 1984's Waterfront joined by two songs from 1985's Once Upon A Time - Alive And Kicking and a soulful take on Sanctify Yourself. From the following decade, 1991's See The Lights shows just what can be done when an acoustic guitar is treated with special effects.

The album concludes with Don't You (Forget About Me), the enduring Breakfast Club closing song that gave Simple Minds a number one single in America, plus a yearning cover of Richard Hawley's Long Black Train. Jim Kerr discovered the wonderfully moving lament, from the Sheffield singer-songwriter's 2001 album Late Night Final, when it cropped up on an Alan Yentob BBC documentary about Man Brooker Prize winner Richard Flanagan, whose brutal novel The Narrow Road To The Deep North chronicled the experiences of Allied POWs working on the Thailand-Burma railway in WWII. "Long Black Train came on at the end of the documentary and I could feel the tears welling up," says Jim. "The song is a reflective ballad about the passing of time, and it meant a lot to Charlie and I, as we've both lost close family members in recent years. We love doing covers, so it was good to come up with a great song that is relatively unknown. There is a touch of Lou Reed's Perfect Day about it, and it's a nice bonus to finish the album."

As a group who formed in the punk era and found their mojo through a shared love of Bowie, Kraftwerk and electronic dance, Simple Minds are not natural acoustic adventurers, but they have done a remarkable job here, adding fresh nuance to brilliant songs without trampling on sacred memories. "Our songs mean a lot to people, so we had to be careful," says Jim. "It wasn't a case of just knocking up some acoustic riffs. We had to show respect to the songs and retain everything that made them good in the first place."

Acoustic International Promo CD



It's a nice coincidence that With Simple Minds currently touring Australia, details of a previously unknown Australian concert has just turned up.

Civic Hotel, Canberra, Australia
December 6th, 1981
Support: Tablewaiters

Many thanks to Tony for the flyer.



A Day On The Green, Bimbadgen, Hunter Valley, Australia
11th February, 2017
With: The B-52s
Main Set: Waterfront / Love Song / Blindfolded / Book Of Brilliant Things / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / Hunter And The Hunted / Real Life / Once Upon A Time - All The Things She Said / See The Lights / Promised You A Miracle - Glittering Prize / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Sanctify Yourself
Encore: Big Music / Alive And Kicking / New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)

"'Heat records smashed as Sydney temperatures hit 47°C, desperate residents flock to the beach and firefighters battling 53 blazes across New South Wales raise bushfire warnings to CATASTROPHIC level' scream the local headlines! And all true enough and with record breaking temperatures all round, that means it was considered dangerous enough for the authorities to cancel major outdoor sporting events etc. Nevertheless the show at Hunter Valley goes ahead, and with plenty of people there waiting for the B-52's and Simple Minds, of course it is relevant to ask how we will cope performing in that condition? Well, two things are going through my mind. Firstly, I am glad that the show is going ahead and disappointment is avoided. Anyway, can you imagine us going home and telling people that we had to cancel playing a gig to thousands of people - because... er... "It was too sunny outside." Jeez... that would be a first! The other thing I am thinking is that we will cope with it, because we always cope, no matter? After all, as dramatic and serious as some of the warnings have been. Let's remember that we are going on stage to play music for an hour and a half. And it is not like we are doing eight hour shifts, day in day out, year in and year out, at the furnace of a steel mill. Like so many from the communities around us did when we were growing up in Scotland. Now those people could really tell you about HEAT. Looking forward to seeing you all in a couple of hours. Thanks so much for coming and enduring! Huge thanks also to our crew and all associated with the event, it cannot have been fun spending an entire day out there at the site. Well done all of you!" - Jim, 11th February 2017

"We loved every minute. Great venue, beautiful moonlight, and an audience of brave souls putting up with today's heatwave etc. Thanks to all of you for listening to our music - and making us feel so good. An Apology: When I was larking about I said a couple of things - off the cuff - using one or two expletives. I then noticed a few young kids in the audience. I feel bad about that. Really sorry. Classier behaviour in future." - Jim, 11th February 2017

Many thanks to Otto for the set-list.



Belfast Child

I know theyíre Scottish, but the song that kept playing in my head in Ireland was Simple Minds' Belfast Child.

Thereís this place in the city called the Oh Yeah Music Centre. Kinda like that song by Roxy Music? I donít think so, but you should check that one out, itís the best song on 1980ís Flesh And Blood, after the band decided to reunite, if you were never infected by Bryan Ferryís voice, youíll get it after listening to this.

How can we drive to a movie show
When the music is here in my car
Thereís a band playing on the radio
With a rhythm of rhyming guitars

Thatís what it used to be like, sitting, parked, you and your honey, listening to the radio, revealing your truth as a prelude to physical interaction.

And, be sure to listen to the end, for Phil Manzaneraís subtle guitar solo. Oh Yeah is understated, yet majestic, from back when music was supposed to touch your soul as opposed to assault you.

Anyway, the Oh Yeah in Belfast was started by a bunch of locals, including Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, at the end of the last decade, as a place for acts to get started, and thereís rehearsal space and offices and a mastering studio and a club and in the antechamber, painted on the walls, is a timeline of all the Belfast hits, some known and some unknown, at least to me, but if there was a denizen of Belfast involved the track is up there.

And Iíd forgotten that Henry McCullough was from Belfast, but what stunned me was the endless number of hits by native son Gary Moore. Most Americans know him from his work in Thin Lizzy.

And Still Got The Blues from his 1990 Virgin album of the same name. Do you know it? Phil Quartararo made it a hit when he took over the newly resuscitated Charisma in the U.S. Amazing what one person on a mission can do.

And then Mr. Moore was promptly forgotten over here, but when he succumbed to a heart attack induced by a night of drinking six years ago it was Still Got The Blues that played in my head, remember when guitarists were all infected by the Delta roots and returned there, back when guitars still mattered?

And U2 wasnít from Belfast, and neither were the Simple Minds, but it was their songs that were playing in my brain so...

I pulled them up on Spotify.

And thatís when I found Simple Mindsí Acoustic album.

Actually, to be honest, which writers rarely are, because oftentimes the truth is messy and it doesnít square with the story, I discovered the album a couple of months back but I did not give it as good a listen as I did last night in my hotel room in Belfast when it suddenly resonated, took me away, I couldnít turn it off, I was afraid of breaking the mood.

And to tell you the truth, Belfast Child is not on it. The song I played first was Sanctify Yourself.

Is this the age of thunder and rage?

MOST DEFINITELY! Even though the original was cut back in í86, but like it says youíve got to open your eyes (and your ears!) and if I didnít tell you this was an acoustic recording you wouldnít know, itís nearly electrified, and itís not slowed-down and sotto voce searching for meaning, itís got just about the same energy as the original.

And I knew it way back then, but I got hooked when Virgin put out a double CD package The Best of Simple Minds, in 2001, I played it again and again for days, one of the cuts that resonated so much was Sanctify Yourself.

And Waterfront. Which is on Acoustic too. But it starts out more mellow, although it does build, but the original incarnation is a TEAR! It starts out with a bass bleating which sounds more like a Kraftwerk record than something organic but then the whole thing explodes, like fireworks at Disneyland, or an SSRI in your brain not long after youíve taken it, and that bass continues to beat and Jim Kerr rides the track like a jockey, imploring the band to victory, it sounds nothing quite like anything else, it enraptures you, COME IN, COME OUT OF THE RAIN!!

Something they had to do yesterday in Southern California.

But my favorite track from that two CD compilation is Let There Be Love.

I missed it the first time around, even though I bought New Gold Dream back in í82, on gold vinyl no less, I didnít buy another LP thereafter, this was back when I was paying for music, before I started getting it for free, but someone sent me this Iva Davies CD and his cover of Let There Be Love resonates and itís not on Spotify and you can hear it on YouTube here:

and I love it, but as magnificent as it is, itís still shy of the original. Which is not quite as good as the less in-your-face positively stellar extended mix where you can luxuriate in the sound, bask in the orchestral greatness filling up not only your head but the entire damn space.

Now where was I?

No, thatís a joke, I know exactly where I am, making a parallel to Gary Moore, you see Simple Minds keep making music but without a champion in the States no oneís aware of it. Itís like Acoustic never came out, and if youíre a fan you want to hear it, I found Glittering Prize fascinating, the same song yet different from the original.

And at this point Jim Kerr is famous for marrying Chrissie Hynde and recording Donít You Forget About Me, the hit from The Breakfast Club which made the band a household name, however briefly, and pissed Jim and the rest off, thatís right, letís not forget Charlie Burchill, who architected the sound, funny how these guys spearhead one band and never cross-pollinate, youíd think so many people would want to work with him and get some of that magic and...

I became a dyed-in-the-wool Simple Minds addict with 1995ís Good News From The Next World, an aural assault from back in í95 it was the last release in America for so long, the last one to make a dent, but it starts off on a tear and stays there, but the track youíve positively got to hear, that encapsulates the genius of this LP, has all the magic, is 7 Deadly Sins, not that I expect you to check it out, either youíre young and listening to hip-hop or old and need no more new music, but back then, when music was still scarce, weíd go to somebodyís house and theyíd play a track for us that we couldnít get out of our head and then weíd have to end up owning it ourselves. 7 Deadly Sins jerks you by the wrist and pulls you away, it squeezes out everyday life and when you crank it up you think music is the greatest thing in the world and with it riding shotgun you can win, even if the game is rigged, because you know itís simply about how you feel and listening to it you feel GREAT!

But this all started with Belfast Child.

It went to number one in the U.K. back in í89, itís meaningless over here, but one listen will tell you otherwise.

Itís based upon the old Irish folk song She Moved Through The Fair, but itís got Kerrís lyrics and that Simple Minds melding of majesty and melody, this is music thatís subtle yet can change the world, Oh Yeah is intimate, playing to you and me, Belfast Child is playing to everybody!

And the song starts off a cappella, all quiet. And then the strings add support and gravitas but the sound that grabs you is the penny whistle, like on a Paul Brady record.

And if you think this is a wimpy number that belongs to the sands of time just wait until the drum starts to pound and the guitar starts to wail and the song starts to march through the streets and you cannot help but fall in behind.

Come back Billy, wonít you come on home
Come back Mary, youíve been away so long

There was a brain drain, the Troubles sent the youth away, there was no opportunity, but with the ceasefire the emigrant sons and daughters began to return.

The streets are no longer empty, and life goes on.

And I wonít say that you can attribute this to music, but we all need strength to put one foot in front of another, get up every day and keep on keepiní on, and thereís no fuel like music.

One day weíll return here
When the Belfast Child sings again

Heís singing, I heard him, I canít wait to return.

Bob Lefsetz
The Leftsetz Letter
19th February 2017


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