Simple Minds’ Global Tour Touches Down In Cardiff

Tonight I was in Cardiff, at the Utilita Arena for two great Scottish bands. Headlining are Simple Minds and for the UK and European leg of the tour they are joined by Del Amitri as guests.

Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena

Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena (Sam Holt)
Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena (Sam Holt)

I use the word guests rather than support as Del Amitri are an established band in their own right, and have enjoyed considerable success themselves. The Glasgow-hailing five-piece groups’ roots can be traced back to a school band started by vocalist, acoustic and bass player Justin Currie, and while the original members left to go their separate ways Justin was joined by guitarist Ian Harvie, these two have been the nucleus of the band since 1982. Justin was grateful to Simple Minds referring to them as “Great Heroes Of Ours.”

For me personally, I knew very little about them other than their hit Nothing Ever Happens. Tonight’s set was short but included some great songs. I particularly enjoyed Kiss This Thing Goodbye, Driving With The Brakes On, and Stone Cold Sober which featured Harvie gaining effective feedback. I loved the way he interacts on stage and had great stage presence without detracting from Justin. Closing the set they played a stunning version of Nothing Ever Happens, with both guitarists donning acoustics joined by keys man Andy Alston on accordion. It was sublime, and a beautiful end to their set, to which they received a standing ovation from an enthusiastic audience.

  • Del Amitri @ Cardiff Arena
  • Del Amitri @ Cardiff Arena
  • Del Amitri @ Cardiff Arena
  • Del Amitri @ Cardiff Arena
  • Del Amitri @ Cardiff Arena
  • Del Amitri @ Cardiff Arena

As the lights dimmed, out came Simple Minds. And as vocalist Jim Kerr reached out over the pit to fans that had waited for several hours, and as that well known bass line to Waterfront pounded out from the PA I knew I was in for a treat, it’s such a simple but effective bassline but so effective in this song, mix in Charlie Burchill’s inimitable guitar work, Jim’s vocals and Cherisse Osei’s mesmerising drumming and you’re hooked.

While bass player Ged Grimes is a relative newcomer to the band (14 years!), he plays his predecessors’ bass lines with fantastic precision demonstrating to my mind respectfulness, whether it’s the simplicity of Waterfront or the more complex bass lines from Don’t You (Forget About Me). Burchill is unconventional against other guitar heroes out there making great use of effects and counter melodies and while he doesn’t provide backing vocals, he’s continually mouthing the words all night. With his style came increased sales of digital delay pedals so others could play like him, this is perhaps best displayed during the opening riff of Someone Somewhere In Summertime. He’s a contemporary of U2’s The Edge and style-wise comes from a similar place, no fret melting solos but sharing an incredible distinctive style.

Jim Kerr as a front man is a real showman, using the whole stage to reach out far and wide, crouching down and even falling backwards on stage, joking that other contemporaries couldn’t do such things. It’s clear he enjoys playing in Wales and lists a few venues they’ve played over the years, but I think he summed things up well when he said “Music makes you forget about all the problems in the world”. He even joked about talking too much and, after the fourth song in the set, told everyone he needed a breather. It was during this time, when he was introducing the band to their audience, he mentioned the “baby of the band” drummer Cherisse Osie, telling us that she’d come to his dressing room prior to the gig and said “Don’t forget to tell them I’m Welsh”, although already highly regarded, this went down well with the crowd. He also mentioned they are joined on this tour by keys player, Erik Ljunggren who played keys for A-ha once upon a time.

Many of the big hits from the 1980s were in tonight’s set along with some “wee less known ones for the hardcore fans”, but I think it was Belfast Child that had the greatest impact on the night, the place was absolutely silent and I overheard someone saying they were reduced to tears with that version tonight. It was incredible, the audience applauded enthusiastically when they thought it was over, but Jim just had to sing that powerful line “When The Belfast Child sings Again” one last time. How could they top that? They did with my all-time favourite of theirs Someone, Somewhere In Summertime. Closing the set was biggest hit Don’t You (Forget About Me), and for a few brief moments I was transported back to the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club. The song written for and featuring heavily in the ear-defining Brat Pack movie. I thought it was fantastic the way there was massive audience participation as Jim got the crowd almost whispering the song then the band exploded back in for a fabulous end to the set.

For an encore, there were a further four songs, as Jim told the crowd “We don’t wanna go home, we want to play more.” First up was an incredible performance of Book Of Brilliant Things sung by backing vocalist Sarah Brown, who came to the front of the stage demonstrating her powerful vocals. For the final song Jim asked “Please let us play one more”, and I don’t think the audience were going to argue as they closed the encore with Sanctify Yourself.

It had been a fantastic night with two great bands, and was a nostalgia trip perhaps, but I’d say neither band were ‘old hat’. They both played with great passion, and clearly loved what they were doing, and so did the Welsh audience who loved it and sang along in fine voice.

  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena
  • Simple Minds @ Cardiff Arena

Live review & photography of Del Amitri & Simple Minds at The Cardiff Arena on 27th March 2024 by Sam Holt.

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