family tree
press releases
mailing list
site map

Empires And Dance Tour 1981

After just signing a deal with Virgin, Bruce talked the label into financing a mini-tour of the USA and Canada before starting work on their first Virgin album. The thinking was sound: seeds had already been sown in Europe, where the band were starting to outgrow their cult status, so it was time to do the same in North America. Surprisingly the label agreed.

Of course, celebratory gigs in Glasgow and Paris were a must.

Sitting around for two months waiting for Arista to release them had allowed the band some breathing space. New songs such as Sweat In Bullet, Careful In Career and Love Song had been written, and they were tried out for the first time on stage.

Traveling the USA gave Jim inspiration for the lyrics of what would become Sons And Fascination: "It was an interesting period in America when we were there: the hostages had just returned from Iran and Reagan had just been elected"

Paul Kerr, Jim's younger brother joined them on the tour for the first time as a roadie. A promising career as a footballer had been cut short by injury. Jim was wary of giving him a full-time job, worried about charges of nepotism. But Paul always pulled his own weight and the band and crew were impressed. He would rise through the ranks eventually becoming tour manager and, briefly, co-manager of the band.

A short 20 date tour of Canada and the U.S.A was planned with the band then returning to Europe for several shows. However, all was not well. Despairing at being away from home, and fighting nervous exhaustion, Brian's worsening condition caused the American tour to be cut short and the European dates cancelled.

Tiffany's, Glasgow, UK
March 1st, 1981
Main Set: Capital City / Factory / Calling Your Name / Careful In Career / Premonition / Thirty Frames A Second / Celebrate / Sweat In Bullet / Today I Died Again / I Travel / Love Song
Encore: Changeling / Life In A Day / Celebrate
Encore: White Light/White Heat
Encore: I Travel

Jim calls the first song Pulse, reverting back to its demo/working title. Careful In Career was introduced as "a new song" and given its final title. This gig also marked the first perfomances of Sweat In Bullet and Love Song (which included an extended and unique coda as it marked the end of the main set).

It was clearly a riotous evening and the band gave three encores, including double performances of Celebrate and I Travel.

The Venue, London, UK
March 3rd, 1981

Studio Gabriel, Paris, France
March 13th, 1981

Le Club Montreal, Montreal, Canada
March 16th, 1981
Support: 222

Beacon Arms Hotel, Ottawa, Canada
March 17th, 1981
Support: The Restless Virgins
6 dollars on the door, or 5 dollars if you booked in advance. If the Beacon Arms Hotel sounds small, the band were actually playing the Fyfe & Drum Room inside.

Many thanks to Brad for the poster scan.

The Edge Club, Toronto, Canada
March 18th, 1981
Main Set: Celebrate / Changeling / Premonition / Thirty Frames A Second / Sweat In Bullet / Capital City / Calling Your Name / Factory / I Travel

"The Edge. Masonic Temple. Massey Hall. Going all the way up to Maple Leaf Garden arena, and others beyond. The list of venues that Simple Minds have played in Toronto is long and varied. It is however those first three names that always conjure up some of the greatest nights of our "young lives" - spent during our band's formative years excitedly touring all over Canada, performing in particular in Toronto."

"Montreal opened its heart to us very early in our journey, for that we will always be grateful. Vancouver was another that encouraged Simple Minds back in those days when we were struggling to make any impact beyond small clubs and college radio stations. Add Ottawa to those names, with Winnipeg to follow, and as you can see, it made sense for us to soon venture out into the real heartlands, gigging in bars and clubs in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon etc."

"Touring in a freezing and dilapidated bus, I can tell you it was very cold, and very dark out there, as we made our way gig after gig over long stretches of highways, driving on and on into the next destination. Thankfully though, we were always met with warm receptions wherever we found ourselves on-stage. Mostly red hot in fact. That made every effort worthwhile."

"It was Toronto that truly first started to come out in real numbers to see Simple Minds. Local radio station CFNY began adding us to their regular playlist, exposing the city to our music in a way that no city in the world - apart from Sydney - was then doing. Our thanks still knows no end. But it was the over the top enthusiasm of kids in Toronto (we were all kids back then) that really gave us the wings to fly."

"Many of those early Minds supporters became friends, and remain so to this day. I clearly recall carousing Yonge street with them after the gigs had finished, moving on from one bar/party to the next, until sun came up. Then - collapsing exhausted - before getting ready to do it all again the very next day."

"Tonight in Toronto, we will perform at The Sony Centre For Performing Arts. It is 5 years since we last ventured through, and of course we want to put on our best. It is the least this city deserves for what it did for Simple Minds when we were first starting out." - Jim, 30th September 2018

"Toronto, never, ever, lets Simple Minds down. The level of noise from your cheers last night was hard to believe. We will be back to play for you again, hopefully sooner rather than later. Meanwhile the memory of tonight's show will live on for a very long time. What a weekend it has been for us in Canada! Thanks to all for coming to our shows, in Montreal, London, and Toronto. Thanks for your wild enthusiasm. See you next time!" - Jim, 1st October 2018

Tuts Discotheque, Chicago, USA
March 21st, 1981
Support: Jonny III

Many thanks to Mike for tracking this down. It was originally hosted on Peter Wilt's Twitter stream

Royal Oak Theatre, Detroit, USA
March 23rd, 1981
Main Set: Capital City / Calling Your Name / Factory / Changeling / Premonition / Thirty Frames A Second / Sweat In Bullet / Celebrate / I Travel

Ritz, New York, USA
March 27th, 1981
Main Set: Capital City / Changeling / Factory / Premonition / Thirty Frames A Second / Sweat In Bullet / Celebrate / I Travel / Love Song

This was Steve Pollard's first gig with the band and Brian McGee's last.


previous tour next tour