Music review: Simple Minds & The Pretenders
Slessor Gardens, Dundee ****
That they’re still good friends is great news for their audience, because Simple Minds and Hynde’s Pretenders are well-suited, both groups with an enduring and still-admired legacy of songs whose frontpeople remaining engaging and dynamic performers.
Third place on the bill was taken by support act KT Tunstall, who was raised so close to here that she might as well be Dundonian, and who might surely take inspiration from her tourmates as both a woman and a Scot working in the music industry.
Kerr and Hynde – who have a daughter of their own together – seem to have an almost parental affection for Tunstall.
Hynde dedicated Back on the Chain Gang to her (“she’s a great inspiration and a great troubadour,” said the Pretenders’ singer, joking that she’s “not a patch on Girls Aloud, who we nicked the next song (I’ll Stand By You) from”), while Kerr invited her for a lively duet on Promised You a Miracle.
Of the three Hynde is the most endearingly relaxed, performing with a pronounced couldn’t-give-a-toss streak, even as her show is a model of capable assurance. Catching the buzz in the air at this outdoor show less than a week before the opening of the V&A, she picked up on local talking points (“I hope that building looks better when it’s finished,” she said of the in-construction office block alongside the new gallery) and talked up this “great town”.
Her muse is mellow and country-influenced for the most part, but the closing flurry of classic pop tracks like Don’t Get Me Wrong and sturdy blues-rockers such as Middle of the Road was thrilling. Such was Hynde’s confidence that she handed the mic to a woman from the audience named Irene – who proved to be a tremendous singer – for the closing Brass in Pocket.
It’s unlikely that anyone would be able to recast Kerr’s raucously messianic persona, however, even if only because his splits looked agonising. With Charlie Burchill’s guitars as fiercely evocative as ever and Dundonian and former Danny Wilson member Ged Grimes on bass, their set was a race through most of their best, from the thundering Waterfront (very location-appropriate, as Kerr pointed out) to the raw post-punk of The American and the big hits Don’t You (Forget About Me), Alive and Kicking, and Sanctify Yourself.