Review: Simple Minds thrill a packed house at Ipswich Regent

Simple Minds, who played at the Ipswich Regent on Monday night

Simple Minds, who played at the Ipswich Regent on Monday night - Credit: Submitted

During the 1980s, the brilliance of Simple Minds somehow managed to pass me by.

Of course I was aware of the bands’ many global hits and sell-out stadium shows, but at the time I was preoccupied by some of the lesser known ‘alterative’ bands the decade produced.

So when I was offered a chance to see vocalist Jim Kerr and his fellow band members in action live – some 20 years later in Western Australia in 2006 – I had no idea what to expect. My initial thoughts were that when bands re-launch after a lengthy period, very few manage to recapture the magic of their heyday. But Simple Minds proved to be the complete opposite and somewhat of a revelation. They were quite frankly brilliant.

And so when the opportunity arose to see them again last night at Ipswich Regent I jumped at it. The show was the final one in a 60-date tour, delivered by a line up consisting of Kerr with original band member Charlie Burchill, stalwart drummer Mel Gaynor, keyboardist Andy Gillespie, Ged Grimes on bass, and backing vocalists Sarah Brown and Catherine AD.

Despite suffering from a fluey cold, Kerr – now aged 55 – provided an impeccable performance. He is a slick, enthusiastic and energetic performer who can sing just as well he could when he was a young 20-something at the pinnacle of his fame. What is more, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, in stark contrast to some of his contemporaries. In fact, it is obvious that Simple Minds have stood the test of time far more effectively than many of my 80s heroes.

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The band released its 16th album, Big Music, last November – the first new material in five years. They opened last night’s performance with a track from the new album, Let The Day Begin, and the two-part set was peppered with new tracks including the melodic Honest Town and the album’s title track, Big Music. These sat comfortably alongside old favourites such as Don’t You (Forget About Me), Waterfront, Love Song and the final encore, Alive and Kicking, which were all met with rapturous applause and much arm waving. It was clear from the audience’s response to the new songs that like me, many had bought the new album, digested it and loved it.

After 38 years in the business, it’s rare to find a bunch of musicians/songwriters still capable of producing catchy, high energy, rousing tunes that equal anything they produced at the height of their careers. But somehow, Simple Minds manage this and more. I can’t help thinking I missed out by not being a part of their huge and devoted following right from the start.

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