The Times Review, Astoria, London

The Times Review, Astoria, London

The Times Review, Simple Minds, Astoria, London.
In Italy Simple Minds still sell enough records to keep a tribute band in business. In Britain they remain stadium rockers who ran out of steam towards the end of the Eighties. So the kids in the crowd sang in sexy foreign accents, while the locals were the blokes fighting hair loss.

Yet a comeback here could be on the cards. Buoyed by upbeat reviews of their current album, Black & White 050505, their first positive press in more than a decade, the Scots took to the road on a mission to regain old ground and seem to be succeeding. By last week all remaining tour dates had sold out and if some festival slots come their way this summer, they may even attract British fans too young to believe that the band were once as big as U2.

Keen to be seen as more than a revival act, Simple Minds started the show with a trio of new tracks, the best of which, Home, a single last autumn, mixed menacing electronics with their trademark chiming guitars and fabulous vocals from frontman Jim Kerr. Even Sleeping Girl, from their flop 2002 album Cry, was a decent stab at anthemic rock that had the crowd punching the air in awe of a powerful sound that few modern rock acts can match.

What hadn’t changed in two decades was Kerr’s flamboyant dancing. The singer could start his own exercise class with a few of his moves – the legs-apart crouch, hips rolling from side to side, the slow, steady foot-to-foot skip or the truly bizarre, one-knee-in-the-air, arms-aloft hop.

In fact, Kerr’s sideline these days is an upmarket Sicilian hotel and, despite temptation, he had managed to retain a figure svelte enough to carry off jeans and a tight, tweedy jacket that exposed the top of his bare chest. He might have wished he had worn a vest though. Half an hour in, sweat stains were spreading like wildfire.

An atmospheric East At Easter marked the start of a run of classic tracks that had, mostly, stood the test of time. Love Song, a slow-building See The Lights taken over by fans and a spellbinding Waterfront that brought the house down competed to be the night’s highlight. Sadly, they were pipped at the post by Don’t You Forget About Me, the band’s biggest hit, but a song even Kerr admits to disliking. Still, when the singer conducted the crowd through a five-minute outro of la, la, las it was hard not to leave singing. After two encores, Simple Minds closed a riotous two-hour show with Factory, an Eastern-tinged track from before they were famous. Twenty-seven years on, Simple Minds may be long past picking up Grammys, but shorn of the pomp that paved their downfall, they can hold their own against their old adversaries.

By Lisa Verrico at the Astoria.