Music review: Simple Minds, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

A set packed with hits brought a rapturous response from the Simple Minds faithful in Princes Street Gardens, writes David Pollock

Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr PIC: Jochen Luebke/DDP/AFP via Getty Images
Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr PIC: Jochen Luebke/DDP/AFP via Getty Images

Simple Minds, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh ****

Played as part of their “40 Years of Hits” tour, Simple Minds' first of two Summer Sessions gigs in Princes Street Gardens managed to compress a spectacular number of beloved songs into a set lasting less than 90 minutes.

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The bulk of the songs here dated from the Glaswegian band's days of global superstardom in the 1980s, but many of them have passed beyond nostalgic hit status into the realm of genuine timeless pop classics, and they brought a truly devoted response from the crowd, with a bit of audible Tattoo fanfare bubbling in the background for extra atmosphere.

The group's key long-serving members make an odd couple. Charlie Burchill is a quiet but diligent technician on the guitar, whose chords hit just the right reverb tone to wail out around the amphitheatre between Princes Street and the Castle Rock on epics like Love Song and Someone Somewhere in Summertime.

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Jim Kerr, meanwhile, somehow manages to blend an air of beatific, Bonoesque rock messiahdom with an easy, self-deprecating attitude. He introduced himself as "Mr Kerr... as in 'taxi for Mr Kerr'."

His voice is still a treat, blending the yearning edge used on Glittering Prize with the deep urgency of Waterfront. Belfast Child, a big success on release which was later critically viewed as a turning point in the band's fortunes due to its political tone, felt transformed here as an extended folk hymn set off beautifully by Kerr's choirmaster-sharp vocal.

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The younger members of the band also brought a crackle of vitality, with Sarah Brown taking confident lead vocals on Book of Brilliant Things and drummer Cherisse Osei getting a deserved power solo after the very welcome post-punk journey through Theme for Great Cities.

The closing Don't You (Forget About Me), Alive and Kicking and Sanctify Yourself sealed the set, the kind of comprehensively classic trio which many other, lesser bands might have to base their whole set around.