Simple Minds – Alive and Kicking at Humphreys

A rather limber Jim Kerr led Simple Minds through a solid end of the season show at Humphreys. With a clutch of hits and a strong catalog of deep album cuts from which to choose, the band from Scotland was in great form.
“Catwalk” was delivered early, soon followed by the perfect song for the venue – “Waterfront.” Kerr referred often to being delighted at the venue, and to being back in town. He pointed out that drummer Cherisse Osei wasn’t born the last time they toured in San Diego.
A few riffs were looped in some songs, which nicely embellished the fullness of the songs.
Kerr’s story of mistaken identity (‘no, I’m not in Simply Red, it’s Simple Minds’) was an apt intro to “Promised You a Miracle.”
Charlie Burchill, the band’s co-founder, delivered chiming guitar licks. It is no surprise that the band was often on equal footing (critically and commercially) in the mid ‘80s when they were building a following in tandem with U2. Both bands were looking to corner the market on knees up anthems.
Guitarist Gordy Goudie has been hanging with the band from the early days, eventually joining them last year. His acoustic chords girded “Dirty Old Town,” a bonus track on the excellent new album. Written by Ewan MacColl and covered often (notably by Rod Stewart early in his career), the song came together Kerr told me in response to the tragedy in Manchester a year ago. Vocalist Sarah Brown gave a commanding performance with the song, wrapping up the first set.
The house music (before the show and during the break) chosen by the band was an astute array of songs by their contemporaries, ranging from Eurythmics and Waterboys to Midnight Oil and Alarm. I admit to being pleasantly surprised to hear a Pretenders track in the mix.

Simple Minds co-founders Charlie Burchill and Jim Kerr

“Walk Between Worlds” (the title track of the excellent new album) was a strong contender early in the in the second set. The song they never do in sound checks and which stayed longer in the charts than most songs of the era was invariably a crowd pleaser. “Don’t You Forget About Me” is a crowd pleaser indeed, but it wasn’t the best song of the evening. “See the Lights” was brilliant, and set the stage for a bracing run of songs at the end of the show: “New Gold Dream,” “Alive and Kicking” and the show closing “Sanctify Yourself.”

Simple Minds is a well-oiled machine, running smoothly and confidently on old and new cylinders.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.