If you could personify any song in the Simple Minds catalogue they would probably say “Don’t you forget about me!” It’s not all about that hit song, you know. But ask anyone to name a song other than that Breakfast Club hit by the Glasgow, Scotland based band and you can probably bet on a blank face.
But, the curators of that smash hit that likely exists on the “soundtrack of my life” for just about anyone who grew up in the1980s and even beyond have not forgotten about Portland or any of their other songs as singer Jim Kerr along with co-founder and guitarist Charlie Burchhill brought their Walk Between Worlds tour to the Roseland Theater on Saturday and played an energetic nearly two and a half hour, 25 song set.
Yes, of course, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was played and proved this band remains alive and kicking.
Indeed, the evening was one giant live 80s dance party without the need for any band other than Simple Minds. They have enough hits, along with that decade’s most iconic song to keep the party going. But Simple Minds hardly tours on their singles alone. Though most in attendance were likely there to relive their youth and perhaps fully rekindle some long-lost feelings first created after the credits rolled on that 1985 brat pack movie or thanks to experiencing a breakfast club of their won – the party never stopped.
Those who danced, danced. While others enjoyed the lights that shined all evening on them. And there were plenty. A comprehensive light show and stage set-up somehow turned the rather restricting Roseland into a legitimate rock hall. It didn’t matter if Simply Minds was playing the deeper “Honest Town” or the popular “See the Lights” this hypnotized packed house was into it from the start and didn’t let up until the band stepped off stage for the last time.
Simple Minds opened their set with the well-crafted “The Signal and The Noise” one of three played off their 18th studio album – Walk Between Worlds – released in February. They followed with the terrific “Waterfront” then the cool bass lines of “Love Song.” The band played two sets taking a 15 minute break after an hour and five minutes. They played alone – no opening act! – and took the stage just a mere five minutes after show time.
The first half featured just two radio hits “Promised You a Miracle” and “Up On the Catwalk” – though the great “The American” was certainly missed by its correlative radio execs – while showcasing deeper album cuts and two originals off the new record.
After the opening set which ended with a solid rendition of “Stand By Love” and “Dirty Old Town” – a cover song by The Pogues the band includes a live version of on Walk Between Worlds – Simple Minds returned with the stellar instrumental “Theme for Great Cities,” “She’s a River, ”the first of several hits coming, and the title track to the new album.
Kerr, 59, might look more like your recently retired neighbor who now heads off in his RV every summer rather than that hip youngster who helped propel Simple Minds to stardom three decades ago, but those vocals that helped define a generation retain the same youthful brilliance. He often replicated the album version of songs and though he doesn’t exactly embody the typical rock band complexion of a front man – Kerr has hardly lost his prime. He was in full command of every song, naturally graced the stage, chatted with the audience between songs – sharing a recent funny encounter with a woman on a plane who couldn’t exactly place him – and often included them during songs casually pointing to individual fans and even recognizing some.
Kerr and Burchhill have carried on the Simple Minds sound long after the rest have left and a revolving door of other musicians. Today, they bring a strong core consisting of Ged Grimes on bass since 2010 and Gordy Goudie, a long-time contributor who adds a second guitar and works the synths. Cherisse Osei plays drums and Sarah Brown brings strong backing vocals.
And when it came time for “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” the audience was ready taking the lead from Kerr for the chorus and then some. And credit to the band for not wrapping up this hit as they allowed their fans digest it a bit and let them sing to their heart’s content. Amazing too, cause it felt like the close of the set but Simple Minds kept the energy flowing with “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” one of four off the album of the same title. After the second 10-song set, Simple Minds returned with a four-song encore opening with “Book of Brilliant Things” and “Once Upon a Tine” then closed the show with a very suitable “Alive and Kicking” and finally “Sanctify Yourself.” The Walk Between Worlds” tour also doubles as the band’s 40th anniversary and they obliged with a career spanning setlist touching more than half a dozen of their albums and stretching back to their fourth album and double EP Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call from 1981.
Simple Minds last stopped in Portland 25 years ago for which Kerr said, “I don’t think we will be able to wait another 25 years” – unless as holograms. But based on Saturday’s reception, fans probably won’t have to wait that long.
No matter, however long it takes for them to return, no one will forget Saturday’s performance any time soon.
Simple Minds Portland Setlist (Roseland Theater):
- The Signal and the Noise
- Love Song
- Let There Be Love
- Up On the Catwalk
- Sense of Discovery
- Promised You a Miracle
- The American
- Hunter and the Hunted
- Stand By Love
- Dirty Old Town
- Theme for Great Cities
- She’s a River
- Walk Between Worlds
- Honest Town
- Someone Somewhere in Summertime
- See the Lights
- All the Things She Said
- Don’t You (Forget About Me)
- New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
- Book of Brilliant Things
- Once Upon a Tie
- Alive and Kicking
- Sanctify Yourself