Review and Photo by Andy ArgyrakisYou forgot about the Simple Minds, didn't you? I know I did. Most likely, 1985's Once Upon a Time was the last you actually remember hearing worthwhile music from the group. (Don't even bother talking about their re-surfacing ten years later with Good News From the Next World. That earned about as much productive attention as the ill-fated Tears for Fears comeback or Duran Duran's pointless covers album from the same year).
Apparently, the Simple Minds are back with yet another new album and tour, marking their first trip to America since touting the minor hit "She's a River" seven years ago. Their latest project and subsequent tour is called Cry, but judging by their performance of several tracks from the disc at their Metro engagement, there's nothing new here. Granted, the material doesn't sound as dated as their synthesizer driven pop from the '80s, but Jim Kerr's stadium filling vocal projections have yet to grow out of the "I wish I was Bono" stage.
Kerr was obviously uncomfortable with the size of the tiny stage given his jittery movements, and although the crowd seemed to respond to every mannerism, I'm sure the band was embarrassed playing the small club after rocking major arenas a decade and a half earlier. The first half of the two hour, 20 song set could very well have been left out entirely, considering it was filled with mostly new songs and less recognizable backlist material. Even the cuts, like the opening clamor of "New Gold Dream" to the easily looked over "Hypnotized," to the overdrawn "Ghostdancing," went nowhere.
The glittering prizes came during the second half, from the seasonally appropriate "Someone Somewhere in the Summertime" to the Amnesty anthem "Belfast Child" to the dynamic "Waterfront." But just as the band began to strike gold, they sunk to their ultimate low of the evening, performing a longer than necessary, disdainful version of their Breakfast Club hit "Don't You (Forget About Me)." Kerr in particular looked miserable singing the lyrics for the 80 billionth time while his egging of the crowd to sing along to the soundtrack smash was the epitome of insincerity.
Before I could give up hope entirely, the group renewed their fading ingenuity by blasting out a triple threat finale of "Promised You a Miracle," "Sanctify Yourself," and "Alive and Kicking." The combination of such classics from the by-gone synth pop era was a bundle of fun and reminded the crowd of the band's peak years of recording.
Upon exiting the venue, a Metro staff member spoke of how the Simple Minds sold more tickets than the INXS tour (minus the late Michael Hutchence) that hit town two weeks prior. As unimpressed as I was by that feat, I chuckled later when I found that much of those additional sales were most likely fueled by the sponsoring radio station's "buy one get one free" online promotion. I'm sorry to say that the majority in Chicago have indeed forgotten about Simple Minds and didn't take the time to get reacquainted at the Metro. My apologies to Kerr and company on behalf of that constituency. Please don't cry.
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