Review: Simple Minds live at Sherwood Pines
Sherwood Pines, Saturday 18th June 2011
When I was around 15, I was heavily involved in badminton which meant a lot of travelling across the country. This meant time on the road and during those days Simple Minds was the soundtrack to early mornings and late nights at weekends. Their recent appearance at Sherwood Pines was a great opportunity to relive those days – or was it?
Simple Minds faded into the background as I got older and discovered more bands around what would be eventually labelled the Britpop scene. The music landscape has changed again since then and I wondered whether Simple Minds are just enjoying the 80’s nostalgia or if they had something relevant still to say.
We took our place surrounded by experienced outdoor types dressed with walking boots, layered clothing and everything that you would expect for a cool overcast June evening. The fan base seemed typical of Sherwood Pines visitors and Simple Minds fans who like me had grown up.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see some great bands at Sherwood Pines over the years and last year Keane were almost perfect so there was a lot to live up to. The pre gig PA mix was encouraging – a mixture of the Sex Pistols, Ian Brown and what seemed to be early U2 doing reggae.
When the band came on, the atmosphere was great and very different to other Sherwood Pines gigs – a vibrant, enthusiastic expectation. When On the Waterfront kicked in the spontaneous reaction was something that I’ve rarely seen at the venue.
And the simple reason is that when it comes down to it, Simple Minds have the hooks and the riffs – something imminently definable as melody. Whether you know the song or not, you know that effort has been made to take an idea and develop the art into something, well, simple.
There’s no need for meandering melodies or quirky extended lyrics that rhyme at unexpected points, it’s about sound, feeling and putting it all together. Bands recently have tried so hard to come up with original material and the 80’s have often been cited as influences – Simple Minds would be a great place to start.
As they went though the set list including Sanctify Yourself, Glittering Prize and All The Things She Said I became aware that underneath a stadium rock band was a mixture of electro, funk and punk. For me, Love Song stole the show and was still more advanced than some of the records around and bands out there today would give their right arm to write a tune like that.
As the encore of Alive and Kicking went out, I found myself thinking that in an age of credit crunches, big societies, mobile internet and music downloads, there was still a place in the world for Simple Minds.