Gig review: Simple Minds at Bridlington Spa

Simple Minds
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“How many of you are from Bridlington?” Jim Kerr poses to the audience seated within the town’s Spa venue. A handful of scattered cheers greet him. “Ten, then,” he quips.

Almost 40 years into a career of stadium highs and empty club lows, Simple Minds remain a commanding arena-sized outfit – but touring behind last year’s record of acoustically remodelled anthems, their return to cosier settings pays dividends in reaffirming the intimate quality of their heart-on-sleeve anthems.

Opening with a propulsive ten-minute rendition of New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), where Kerr ventures into the stalls to serenade punters, the group forgo the storyteller aspect often indulged in reworked performances like this; the billowing funk drama of Big Sleep is dispatched without introduction, as is a shamanic Someone Somewhere in Summertime.

Stripped of their sleek synths and crashing piano, there is a beautiful pathos that rarely comes across in vast concert halls; Glittering Prize, less burnished here, absolutely sparkles, as does the ethereal Speed Your Love to Me.

“This is the sort of place I’d come see us,” Kerr announces, noting the atmosphere. “Not those less glamourous places. Paris, Munich… Scarborough.”

The frontman leans on tried-and-tested saucy-seaside patter for asides between songs; verbally sparring with foil/guitarist Charlie Burchill, bemoaning his diet stopping him from indulging a fish and chip supper and dedicating the world-folk shuffle of Mandela Day to his 82-year-old dad “and his new girlfriend”.

The rest of the six-piece get a chance to shine too; rhythm guitarist Gordy Goudie leads a tribute to the late David Bowie with a jaunty cover of Andy Warhol, whilst backing vocalist Sarah Brown powers through a strident, bouncy version of Let the Day Begin that roars with a sincere passion.

A second-half surge that begins with the whispered bassline of Waterfront finds the group on more familiar, hand-waving territory, with the ubiquitous swagger of Don’t You (Forget About Me) and Sanctify Yourself pulling the crowd to its feet.

“You want one more?” Kerr shouts, as the jangly intro to Alive and Kicking unfurls itself. When the house lights do go up shortly after, he is still busting dad-dancing shapes on stage to Bryan Ferry’s Let’s Stick Together over the PA, to the delight of fans. Well into their fifth decade, Glasgow’s favoured sons may be old dogs now; but it transpires that this new trick is a pretty reminder of their way with a song.

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