Simple Minds review – stadium tour polishes 80s hitmakers’ gold dream

<span>Throwing shapes …Jim Kerr, of Simple Minds, in full flow at Leeds.</span><span>Photograph: Ernesto Rogata/Alamy Live News</span>
Throwing shapes …Jim Kerr, of Simple Minds, in full flow at Leeds.Photograph: Ernesto Rogata/Alamy Live News

Two years ago, Simple Minds’ singer Jim Kerr told the Guardian how, in the early 2000s, the band would drive past stadiums they used to sell out en route to playing a club that wasn’t. Now, they’re back in arenas, which the frontman regards as “intimate – but not too cavernous”. Their fortunes have turned around as more people have woken up to the pioneering brilliance of their early albums. Meanwhile, a retooled seven-piece line-up including two women have brought a new energy. Sarah Brown shares lead vocals occasionally and Cherisse Osei is an outstanding drummer. Decades-old songs arrive waxed and polished, while 1995’s Hypnotised and 2022’s Vision Thing have a contemporary shimmer.

Opening the tour in a city Kerr describes from the stage as “mad, but in a good way”, the setlist otherwise draws mostly on 1980s glories but has plenty to delight both fans of Simple Minds’ chart reign and post-punk era. The band hit the ground running with an electro triple whammy of Waterfront, Love Song and The American. Big hits include Once Upon a Time, an inevitable Alive and Kicking and Belfast Child, powerfully performed without comment but beneath images of the Troubles. Promised You a Miracle, Glittering Prize, Someone Somewhere (In Summertime) and the title track from 1982 classic album New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84): all sound utterly resplendent. They dig deepest into their catalogue for 1979’s Premonition and 1980’s This Fear of Gods, neither played for aeons, which sound thrillingly dark, mysterious, esoteric and European.

As teenagers living in adjoining Glasgow tower blocks, Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill hitchhiked around the continent and dreamed of a future where everything was possible. Now in their 60s, their great adventure has obviously never stopped. The svelte singer throws rock shapes which would put most men his age in traction and quips that the ageless Burchill “has a portrait in the attic”. As the arm-swaying crowd’s massed “la la la”s extend Don’t You (Forget About Me) into a wonderfully ridiculous 10th minute, Kerr can’t resist joking: “Hurry up, my dinner’s going cold.”

Touring the UK until 30 March; then Europe to 4 August