Simple Minds – Live Review – Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Simple Minds – Live Review – Scarborough Open Air Theatre (1)

By Roger Crow, June 2024

I’d waited almost 40 years to see Simple Minds perform THAT song, and obviously could have tracked them down years earlier, but like so many great bands, watching them decades ago just wasn’t a thing. A lack of cash or opportunity or whatever was just one of those many hurdles that got in the way, but the desire was always there. So when the opportunity arose to review Jim Kerr and company in Scarborough, there was a nanosecond before I agreed.

We arrive just as Del Amitri begin their supporting set, and ‘The Last to Know’, like all of their tracks, is note-perfect. ‘Nothing Ever Happens’ is another favourite, and it’s clear they’ve been having a great time supporting “The Minds”. But then again who wouldn’t?

It’s around 8:45pm by the time the main act arrives on stage with their impressive screens flashing up iconic imagery, but it never gets in the way of the main attraction

Simple Minds – Live Review – Scarborough Open Air Theatre (1)

Del Amitri

“Sings to the masses”

It’s a portentous track, but ‘Waterfront’ does not thankfully summon rain as Jim (and the gathered masses) belt out those lyrics: “Step in, step out of the rain…”. Though there had been plenty of that earlier, thankfully we enjoy a dry night at one of the best times of the year, just before the longest day.

Kerr is not one of those frontmen who fills the gaps between songs with lengthy anecdotes, though he obviously could. Instead he’s all about the music, though he does win over the crowd with: “What a delight to be in Scarborough,” and recalls a chat at the end of last year with the band’s manager, who promised them they would be “breaking new ground on this tour,”. Kerr and company wondered where on Earth they could play that they hadn’t already.

He didn’t suspect that the real Glittering Prize on their global jaunts would be thousands of devoted fans, and a few newcomers to the party, singing their hearts out on a terrific Yorkshire evening. And yes, they do that cracking track justice, as they do with the follow-up, ‘Promised You A Miracle’, and other bangers like ‘Sanctify Yourself’.

There is a Nigel Tufnell/Spinal Tap-style moment when Jim, lost in the throes of the music, kneels back on stage, sings to the masses, and leaves many wondering how he’s going to get back up without looking like a grandad trying to get out of a comfy chair. But this is not his first rodeo, and he’s soon in the rock star-recovery position, buoyed by the devoted fans.

Simple Minds – Live Review – Scarborough Open Air Theatre (3)

“Takes some beating”

Bruce Springsteen can’t do that,” he quips. “Mick Jagger? Give me a break. Bono? No chance,” before adding: “I’m going to pay for that tomorrow,” he laughs, and thousands completely sympathise. He’s Come A Long Way since those early days of the band’s birth in 1978, and yes, that’s a tortuous segue into the next track.

At 64, Kerr’s voice is amazing, sounding better now than when the band made their breakthrough. It doesn’t hurt that he’s supported by phenomenal vocalist Sarah Brown, and Cherisse Osei, an incredible drummer who performs one of the best solos you’ll hear all year.

And that sound system is as incredible as always. Even up in the gods, that life-affirming ‘heartbeat’ of a gig, the one you feel in your chest, sums up everything I love about live music.

By 9:42, ‘Belfast Child’ begins, and as ballads go, that number one takes some beating. There’s a good 10 minutes of emotion surrounding one of their biggest hits, and Kerr and co do it justice, as they do with all the hits.

And then, just before 10pm, is the song I waited 39 years for. As Jim told me a few years ago (clang, sorry about that), the band weren’t wild about recording ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ in the early days, not realising how iconic it would become thanks to John Hughes’ masterpiece, The Breakfast Club. Or how it would become one of their best-loved tunes. Though it peaked at number seven on the UK charts, it topped the US charts, and made their name across the Pond.

Simple Minds – Live Review – Scarborough Open Air Theatre (2)


Mrs Crow and I were more than happy to help with backing vocals, though a few thousand others also assisted with a chorus of “La, La La La Las” that could have gone on all night. “Sing it to me in a YORKSHIRE ACCENT,” requests Jim. We had no problem with that. For those few minutes, we were all Judd Nelson, walking across that football field, fist-pumping as the credits of our lives rolled. That alone is one of the best live gig experiences of my life, though they naturally save another banger for the finale.

“One more! Alive and ‘Nicking’!” Well, almost Jim. There’s no confusion about the actual title when that kicks in, along with the Simple Minds army of followers.

“Sing please,” requests the politest man in pop rock, and we don’t need asking twice.

Though this was their first visit to Scarborough, Mr Kerr promised it wouldn’t be the last, much to the delight of me and a few thousand other aficionados.

The hundred-mile round trip on a school night was well worth it, and don’t worry Simple Minds. We won’t forget about you in a hurry. How could we?

images: Cuffe & Taylor


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