Reviled by “serious music fans” yet beloved by the masses, Simply Red occupy a curious position.
Simply Red | Rating: *** | SECC Hydro, Glasgow
They’ve sold more than 50 million albums and scored 20 UK top 20 singles. They are adored. However, for many their name remains a byword for bland, sterile, corporate MOR.
Is that fair? Not entirely. As shown by this uneven 30th anniversary performance, Simply Red at their best are/were purveyors of superior commercial pop. The irresistibly melodic likes of For Your Babies and the exuberant Fairground are genuinely good songs.
Only the most stubborn naysayer would deny the sincere emotional heft of Holding Back The Years, which began the show in poignant acoustic form. That is, it began the show following an amusingly bombastic decade-spanning video montage of Mick Hucknall; a gigantic flipbook monument to himself.
After all, Hucknall is Simply Red. Saxophonist Ian Kirkham is the only other original member from an ever-changing lineup of musos who’ve facilitated Hucknall’s blue-eyed soul and jet-setting egomania since 1985. He once described himself as “one of the best singersongwriters this country has produced”. Palpable nonsense, but there’s no denying the undiminished power of his voice.
It’s just a shame he’s wasted it on the terminally tasteful material which marked time between the highlights tonight.
A good singles band, Simply Red will never be credible because wine bar soul is such a naff genre. But credit where it’s due, they had their moments in the sun.