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videos | glitterball

Andy Earl & Stuart MacKenzie

Phil Barnes

Ascent Media

Studio/Outdoor Performance

Glitterball [Edit] (4:22)

The brief was modernity and travel.

Andy Earl first forumlated the idea of shooting at The Guggenhem as the building's polished metal facade reflected the light like a glitterball, and its futuristic appeal resonated with the clean, functional lines of the Neapolis artwork. "The Guggi came in a dream. It was a place I knew about and I wanted to work here. And then when we were talking Glitterball, and the tune Glitterball, I literally woke up on a Friday morning before Christmas, and I thought 'The biggest Glitterball in the world.' It has to be here. And that was it." He then worked with Stuart Mackenzie to flesh the idea out and produce a shooting script.

They hired a Spanish production company to liase with the museum, which had only been open a month. The Guggenheim were enthusiastic as they saw the video as an ideal publicity vehicle.

MacKenzie took on the role of director, his first foray into the world of video, and shared his directorial-debut with Earl, who'd photographed Simple Minds for the Neapolis artwork the previous October. Speaking on the Glitterball EPK, Earl explained why the building had been chosen: "The whole idea was because the song's called Glitterball, what we wanted to do, was to do something which - when we were coming up with an idea, there was various things that we came up with, but the main thing was this building. And because it's the biggest glitterball in the world, it would be a great idea to work an idea using this. Not as totally obviously, but just to have little bits of the structure and things."

Band interviews and photo sessions also took place during the video shoot. These eventually turned up in the Glitterball EPK and on various interview CDs and press releases.

How come we are in Bilbao in Spain - how did you come up with this idea for the video?

'Well I guess it begins with the title of the song being the Glitterball - it's probably one of the expressions being used to describe this structure we're in but personally I find that this place defies any kind of description... but I guess the whole material they've used and given especially on a bright and sunny day it must be like some incredibly shining sculpture so when the idea came up - great idea - especially when it's been given so much attention - we never imagined that we would get the permission to use it as the backdrop to this particular fantasy.

What were the first thoughts and dreams that came into your mind when you saw this building?

'Well it was actually, you know, the cliches come to the forefront. It was awesome, I mean, fairly intimidated, we had been in the band and years we've spent travelling, we've probably got to see some of the incredible structures that the world's got to offer, whether you're in India as we were on our last album or in Australia or in South America and Europe itself as we know is absolutely creaking with museums and fantastic buildings, but this is, I think this really let's us know that we are 'post-futuristic' - I mean I don't know what the social reference would be - I don't know enough about architec!ure anyway - but there is no comparison. I mean, you can talk about Gaudi and then you can talk about Philippe Starck or you can talk about whoever but this - it really is quite something else.'

What has been the worst thing about the shoot and what has been the best thing about the shoot?

'The best thing about the shoot is getting the chance to come here and, you know, you could spend all manners of money in getting some of the most fantastic backdrops, but how could you ever beat this? That in itself has been a coup. The worst side again is having to wait to see it put together. When we play we get a direct response - when we're in the studio you can rewind the tape and hear instantly what you've done. Now we're still piecing it together and I'm wondering how it's all going to work out - 'are we going to be overshadowed. how's it going to fit in etc, is it going to have the right light and shade...?'

Interview Transcription

Simple Minds spend a day hanging around the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum and jamming in its main exhibition hall. Jim travels along in a vintage car to the museum, joining the newly reformed Simple Minds of Charlie, Derek and Mel. What follows is a sequence of shots of Simple Minds miming to the track in the hall, hanging around the interiors and exteriors of the museum, and stopping the traffic in an adjoining street for a photo session.

After a long day, Jim leaves alone, the last shot is of his car leaving the Guggenheim in the darkness.

"What we saw was Jim on a journey around urban Bilbao with the image of the museum as a recurring glimpse. Intercut with this was a band performance (musicially and socialy) which was equally important as the 'old lineup' was reunited. From there we used the third element where Jim performed against different obtuse views of the structure and ran it at ahlf real time to give it a twinkling dream like quality. - Stuart Mackenzie

The video was widely available as it was a bonus track on the Neapolis limited edition eCD. It was also included on the Seen The Lights - A Visual History DVD several years later.

Glitterball promo video Neapolis Limited Edition CD Seen The Lights - A Visual History Promo DVD Seen The Lights - A Visual History DVD

collectors' information
Chrysalis distribed videos in custom colour picture sleeves. The videos themselves just had simple artist and song title stickers:

Glitterball promo video

Simple Minds were the first people to be given permission to shoot at the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. It had only been open a month and they beat off competition from other bands.

The video was shot on the 15th and 16th January 1998.

Oliver Stone and Walt Disney were scouting the location during the shoot.

The master (created on the 28th January 1998) and two protection copies exist in the archive. The original rushes were shot as part of the Glitterball EPK and longer roughs and trial edits still exist as part of that project.

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Jim travelling to the Guggenheim

Walkabout outside the museum.

Charlie and Derek in the main hall

Jim outside by the metal, polsihed walls
Whole band playing in the main hall.

Jim returning home in the evening.