Monday, October 22, 2018

Simple Minds thrills in historic first-ever appearance in Las Vegas

Simple Minds greeting the crowd early during their thrilling
concert at the Pearl Theater in Las Vegas on October 21, 2018.
Simple Minds
Where: The Pearl Theater at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas
When: October 21, 2018
Next: Simple Minds is on tour in the U.S. through Nov. 11, 2018. 

Although Simple Minds has been together more than 40 years, scored a number of enduring alternative rock hits and earned a fistful of number one albums in the U.K., the Scottish band broke new ground in coming to Las Vegas on Sunday night (Oct. 21, 2018).

"How are you?" said singer Jim Kerr in greeting the enthusiastic crowd gathered inside the Pearl Theater after a rousing performance of "Love Song" early in the set. "Thanks to every single one of you for coming to see us. We're elated to be back in the U.S. This is the first gig we've ever done in Las Vegas. This is history for Simple Minds tonight."

From left, Simple Minds guitarist Charlie Burchill, singer Sarah Brown and
lead vocalist Jim Kerr performing at the Pearl Theater on October 21, 2018.

What's more, Simple Minds delivered a truly memorable concert featuring 23 selections delivered across two and a half hours. This was a concert that revisited all of the Scottish troupe's best-known songs, as well as featuring great tracks off the band's excellent 2018 LP Walk Between Worlds.

From the moment Simple Minds emerged on stage, there was a palpable sense that the band was inspired and thrilled to be on stage. "Viva Las Vegas," said Kerr as he came to the mic. "Let me see your hands." The six-member group then launched into the wistful anthem "The Signal and the Noise," a Walk Between Worlds cut bolstered by a driving rhythm (drummer Cherisse Osei and bassist Ged Grimes would prove their rhythm might all night), evocative keyboards and guitar textures as well as sublime backing vocals from Sarah Brown.

Simple Minds performing "Waterfront" in Las Vegas.

Whether performing hits from the '80s or newer material, the passion and precision of the performances were potent. A dynamic rear projection screen was also well utilized, with graphics and lighting frequently adding power to the concert. For example, "Waterfront" was offered early in the night and included a dynamic photographic backdrop of a waterfront behind the musicians. 

Guitarist Charlie Burchill performing at the
Pearl Theater in Las Vegas.
The human touch was as essential as the technology and visuals, with Kerr crouching down during "Love Song" to greet fans. He would do that throughout the night, anxious and eager to make a connection with the audience via the band's music, his personable storytelling and true appreciation of the night.

Other early highlights of the show included "Up On the Catwalk," with lead guitarist Charlie Burchill crafting a shimmering solo, and the poignant new song "Sense of Discovery."

It is not uncommon for even established artists to cover and revisit other artists' songs. Simple Minds' discography is so extensive that the band can rely on its own finely-crafted material to carry the day at performances. 

The only exception to that approach came late in the first half of the concert when Kerr showcased singer Sarah Brown for a completely-reworked cover of the Ewan MacColl-penned 1949 classic "Dirty Old Town."

From left, guitarist Charlie Burchill, singer Sarah Brown and
lead singer Jim Kerr of Simple Minds.
That rendition was subtle, with Brown's soprano at times enhanced by Kerr's backing vocals.

The second half of the concert was even more powerful, with the instrumental foray "Theme For Great Cities," the ethereal "Walk Between Worlds" (another great showcase for Kerr and Brown to blend voices) and slide guitar-adorned "See the Lights" among the first heard standouts.

By the time Simple Minds got to the end of their long set, the crowd grew more excited with each track. The soulful "All the Things She Said," burgeoning art rocker "Dolphins" and extended sing-along version of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" were delivered before a thrilling encore that included the spirited "Alive and Kicking" and rousing "Sanctify Yourself." 

Review and photography by Robert Kinsler

Jim Kerr is all smiles, seen here continuing to acknowledge
the crowd after the Simple Minds concert was over
and his band mates had left the Pearl Theater stage.
Simple Minds' set list at the Pearl Theater

1. The Signal and the Noise
2. Waterfront
3. Love Song
4. Let There Be Love
5. Up on the Catwalk
6. Sense of Discovery
7. Promised You a Miracle
8. The American
9. Hunter and the Hunted
10. Stand By Love
11. Dirty Old Town
12. Theme For Great Cities
13. She's a River
14. Walk Between Worlds
15. Someone Somewhere in Summertime
16. See the Lights
17. All the Things She Said
18. Dolphins
19. Don't You (Forget About Me)
20. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
21. Once Upon a Time
22. Alive and Kicking
23. Sanctify Yourself

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