Sunday 21 January 2018

Review: U2’s stadium rock rivals are rocking still

Rock: Simple Minds, 3Arena Dublin

Simple Minds
Simple Minds
Ed Power

Ed Power

How cruel for Simple Minds that their 3Arena concert should take place 24 hours after their great 80s rivals U2 brought the curtains down on a triumphant four-night stand at the same venue.

Thirty years ago the bands were stadium rock equals, ferociously competitive yet united in their belief in rock and roll's spiritual power.

But as U2 proceeded to conquer the world, Simple Minds suffered a humiliating tumble from grace, with critics and public alike recoiling from their growing grandiosity (as exemplified by Belfast Child, their assault-and-battery 1989 cover of She Moved Through the Fair).

All these decades later, Simple Minds have never quite regained that initial swagger. In contrast to U2 the previous evening, the room was short of sold out, with a conspicuous lack of celebrities lining up for selfie moments with frontman Jim Kerr.

The stage show was a notch down too - where U2 had brought a blitzkrieg of neon and cheesy political slogans, Simple Minds were confined to a backing singer in a red vinyl dress mugging like one of the models in the video to Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love.

"We heard some of our friends were here last night," said Kerr, fiddling with the annoying over-sized scarf he wore early on. "That's cool - it's all good." He seemed to be trying to make a point, on his bandmates.

Bizarre monologuing aside, this was a solid performance, wisely tilted towards the group's formative days leading the Glasgow new-wave scene. There was a frosty snap to New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) while Promised You A Miracle and an acoustic The American showcased guitarist Charlie Burchill's cinematic playing.

By the encore blast through Alive and Kicking and Sanctify Yourself, the point had been made. Simple Minds may have been the band stadium rock forgot - yet, at their finest, they still rival any of their contemporaries for sublime chest-beating and effervescent sweep.

Irish Independent

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