Live in the City of Angels
In today’s rapid-fire music culture where listeners digest music digitally in small portions there is something to be said about staying power. That special ability for a band to evolve, endure and maintain a fanbase that crosses generations as they continue to make new music and tour.
Such a band is Simple Minds, the most successful commercial Scottish band of all time. Formed four decades ago they cut their teeth as a band influenced by the roots of working-class punk, new wave and post punk before moving onto to broader experimental atmospherics, minimalist structured rhythms and then pop. Achieving pop success in the 1980’s, the band evolved further into an edgier rock band. Deepening their sound to include more guitars and denser percussion, they found even bigger global success, developing as a band capable of filling arenas and stadiums.
Fronted by vocalist Jim Kerr and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Burchill, Simple Minds uniquely catchy and anthemic brand of modern rock has resulted in critically lauded albums and a string of successful tours. Spending the last year celebrating their prolific forty-year career with a massive world tour, they returned to America for a string of sold out shows captured on their new album, Live in the City of Angels.
Serving as a bookend to their 1987 live album Live in the City of Lights, Simple Minds recorded their gig at Los Angeles’ Orpheum Theatre on October 24, 2018. Delivering a set of new and old material, the album features twenty-four tracks performed that night and one (“Glittering Prize”) recorded a few days later at The Fillmore in Miami Beach.
The setlist covers material from their formative years as well as newer material. Launching directly into “The Signal and the Noise” (from last year’s Walk Between Worlds) Jim Kerr takes no time in setting the tone for the evening, Powerful rock anthems merged with shimmering pop melodies. Known for their triumphant live sets, Simple Minds has established themselves as a venerated live act who has no difficulty getting their audiences involved. This is the case with their 1985 breakout, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”.
In a night with several strolls into their back catalog, two tracks from their seminal album Sparkle in The Rain, “Waterfront” and “Up On the Catwalk” remain transcendent. Other hits like “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)”, “Someone Somewhere in Summertime” and “Let There Be Light”, a hallmark cut from their ninth record, Real Life, also stand out.
Having now released eight live albums, Simple Minds have given their fans an audio documentation of their evolution through their concerts. Here, newer material like “Sense of Discovery” lives in symmetry with “She’s A River” and “Theme for Great Cities”, because of the bands unique ability to write infectious melodies throughout their career. The band closed out the evening with rousing versions of three tracks from their seminal album, Once Upon A Time, including the title track, “Alive and Kicking” and the stomping crowd pleaser, “Sanctify Yourself”.
Showing no sign of age, Kerr’s vocals are still in top form, weaving over and around Burchill’s guitar and instrumentation. The rest of the band is tight too, resulting in an energetic live record that captures the sound of their records while also making their new interpretations energetic and fresh.
Hardcore fans will love the expanded edition of the album which includes a hardcover book and an additional fifteen songs recorded on tour in 2018. The extra track includes a cover of Prince’s “The Cross” and The Call’s “Let the Day Begin” as well as an updated version of their early classic, “I Travel”.
Simple Minds have announced that their next studio album will be released in 2021.