13 May, 2012 Abracadabra!
I have been musing within these blurbs for over 10 years now and anyone who has cast a glance over them with any regularity will know that I take any opportunity possible to highlight and praise the musicians that I have had the pleasure to work with throughout.
It requires little effort on my part to do so, it is automatic, it is also heartfelt. I am not a musician myself; remember. Therefore to me, music with all its mysteries, it’s effects, and how it actually works is nothing less than magic manifest. Being so, musicians are also magicians in my book, and resultantly how can I not be overwhelmingly impressed by how they operate?
In further to that how can I not marvel or want to shout from the rooftops about the talent of those who I observe so closely. And if that seems in anyway over the top, try to imagine a world without music. If you can, your imagination is way more potent than mine. Then again, I would not even want to be able to imagine such a world, nevermind experience it. My world has been constructed thanks to the efforts of all the musicians I have worked with. My gratitude knows no limits actually.
Little more than 10 years ago we had just finished the last of our UK dates in support of our then newly released ‘Cry’ album. Two successful nights at the glorious Royal Albert Hall in London had taken place, and during the morning after I recall breathing a sigh of relief.
Y’see, prior to this tour Simple Minds had for various reasons spent more than a handful of years doing nothing much at all publicly. Behind the scenes; we had been working away albeit with little momentum. But ultimately these were not strong creative periods and precious little we worked on came up to any real standard of satisfaction. For that reason we had almost come to a final halt, and although never discussed at any length, I had the firm assumption that we were possibly in the process of coming apart as a unit.
The aforementioned ‘Cry” album nevertheless gave us hope that our engine was still running in someway, but it was to be the coinciding tour that would determine in truth the merit behind our struggling desire to carry on as a live entity. As I have stated before, we did not want to continue carrying on just for the sake of it, or because we knew not what else to do with our lives. We had to believe that we could live up to a great past live reputation while rebuilding something full of newer vitality. Failing that, well, the unnerving image of punch drunk boxers travelling round in an endless cycle and with their glory days far behind, springs to my mind. Scary stuff really!
A decade later on from then, a decade that has seen us perform many of our best ever shows, has vindicated our decision to quietly continue getting up on stage as frequently as ever before. And many who have seen Simple Minds live recently will testify, the band has rarely been in such rude health.
That very decision however, or at least so in my mind, was made only hours after those inspiring Albert Hall shows, and a huge part of the reasoning behind it was on the basis of the realization that keyboardist Andy Gillespie, still fairly unknown and making only his first ever tour with SM, could in fact bring so much to our future organization. But it was still early days for Andy, and it was merely a guess after all. However, 10 years later I can say that it has been a real and genuine pleasure watching Andy prove the guess to be correct. Fact is, no one has ever taken control of our live preparations in the way Andy does, fewer worked so hard, and hard work done with a full heart and a ton of pride can be a very beautiful thing.
But is Andy Gillespie really a magician? You bet he is! How else to explain how he single handedly can make the chocolate bars that sit inside the fridge on our tour bus – seemingly disappear into thin air, and with astonishing rapidity. Plus, if word of this praise gets to his attention he will no doubt be on the phone immediately looking for – yet another – pay rise. And all, as if by magic!