01 Nov, 2008 Night of the Proms
Maybe it was the Halloween effect. Certainly something out of the norm was happening when we stood on stage in front of 14,000 people, and after only two minutes into our opening song ‘Sanctify Yourself’, the entire PA system went down.
Leaving us frantically belting out a great wall silence to a bemused audience as we continued unaware of the power failure that had occurred in the venue! In the end, thanks to the good nature of the crowd and the technicians who managed to restore all within a few minutes, we restarted and enjoyed a fine set that was more than highlighted by Sinead O’Connor’s stunning contribution to Belfast Child.
Gremlins apart, Antwerp sparkles and Antwerp shines just as you would expect it to with it being at the centre of Europe’s diamond trade.
To Simple Minds however Antwerp will always be first and foremost the home of ‘Night Of The Proms, and it is for that reason that both Charlie and I currently find ourselves back in the historical Belgian port city where for the third time in a decade we are taking part in the hugely popular musical event that mixes big tunes from the classical and pop/rock worlds.
Having already done in the region of seventy odd NOTP performances in the past, it is no exaggeration to say that we feel very close to the ‘Proms’ and by that I mean that we are now very familiar with so many faces here including the orchestra and the promoters, stage crew and background staff, drivers and hotel staff, not forgetting even some locals who we have come into contact with over the years as we got to know the city relatively well.
I have also enjoyed talking to some of the local media here, and of course been encouraged by their very positive comments with regards to our first shows. That said, I had to point out to them that we felt that the Proms was a much bigger challenge than they had imagined it would be for us.
What I mean is that whereas they were thinking that with us having worked with the unique format already twice in the past, it should then logically have been so easy for us to step back into the rhythm of playing an intense short orchestral set etc.
That may be so, but we have a different view on what the real challenge is for us.
Firstly they are right, we are a lot more used to the feel of the Proms than we were first time. But alternately it is not easy for us to live up to the stunning reaction that we received on our past Proms when we appeared both in ’97 and ’02.
That is a heavy pressure that Simple Minds are always under and while it is wonderful to have people perhaps consider us a great live band, to have to go out and prove it every single time and every single performance without fail, is far from easy!
In addition to that and with respect to the artists with whom we shared previous bills, we do feel that this year the entire show is much stronger thanks in particular to amazing performances from both Sinead O’ Connor and Ed Kowalski from Live.
Once again I say that it is not easy to follow such quality, but it makes for a great event and it is visible that the people who have paid to come along are delighted with the show.
pics by Hilko Nackaerts