Six years after their last performance at the venue, Simply Red returned to Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre last Friday to deliver a superb show that delighted a sold-out crowd.
Mick Hucknall’s band deftly mixed musical genres as they moved between pop, funk, reggae and soul quickly making the audience forget the persistent drizzle that fell for much of the evening.
Beginning with Look At You Now from their 1985 debut album Picture Book, the band performed for ninety minutes delivering a hit packed eighteen-song set that left no-one disappointed.
Come To My Aid, A New Flame, and Your Mirror came early in the set, before their breakthrough hit Holding Back The Years. Written when Hucknall was just seventeen years old - and whose video was famously filmed in the region - the song had the tiered seating on their feet singing along with Hucknall.
Hucknall has never been short of confidence as he demonstrated by covering songs made famous by artists such as Barry White, Harold Melvin and Gregory Isaacs. Wearing sunglasses from the start Hucknall quipped “I’m still pretending it’s a forty-degree heatwave” and said how happy he was to be back in the North.
Rocking: Simply Red on stage at Scarborough. Picture: Dave Lawrence
Hucknall's voice, which remains undiminished, is the core feature of Simply Red but he was surrounded by a terrific band - guitar virtuoso Kenji Suzuki, bassist Steve Lewinson, keyboardist Dave Clayton and drummer Roman Roth kept the band in the groove and Ian Kirkham's saxophone and Kevin Robinson's trumpet playing were vital components to the overall sound.
Thrill Me was followed by covers of the classic reggae number Night Nurse and Homer Banks’ Ain’t That A Lotta Love.
By the time they band got round to It’s Only Love and Stars the drizzle had slowed and the audience were on their feet, the raindrops flying from their anoraks and ponchos as they swayed and danced.
Sunrise, which samples the Hall and Oates classic I Can’t Go For That, Something Got Me Started and a joyous version of Fairground finished the main set.
An encore that included Money’s Too Tight (To Mention) and finished with a cover of If You Don’t Know Me By Now sent the audience home happy. The band’s fortieth anniversary is only a few years off yet they still provide a show full of class and quality and demonstrated that they plan on being around for some time yet.