Review: Castle Concerts - Simply Red

MICK Hucknall strolled onto the stage at Edinburgh Castle on the stroke of 9 on Thursday night to take most of the audience back to their youth during a 90 minute show packed with hits from their 80s and 90s heyday.Castle Esplanade* * * * * *

Mick Hucknall of Simply Red. Picture Laurent Gillieron
Mick Hucknall of Simply Red. Picture Laurent Gillieron

Billed as the 30th anniversary tour, the band weren’t trying to promote a new album so much as remind us all of a back catalogue of classic soul, pop and funk tracks which have helped shift some 50 million albums over the years.

The skies remained mercifully clear as the six piece band smoothly worked their way through the hits.

Opening with Look At You Now and Come To My Aid from 1985’s Picture Book, Hucknall, wearing a shimmering dark blue suit, showed the years have not dimmed his spectacular voice.

His version of Night Nurse came with an anecdote about its recording in Jamaica with Sly and Robbie, before he slowed things up with three ballads, For Your Babies, from 1991’s Stars, the Stylistics’ You Make Me Feel Brand New and a lovely acoustic version of Holding Back The Years, which he wrote in his bedroom aged just 17.

It has taken him around the world and still sounds fresh.

All seater venues still bathed in evening light can inhibit dancing and while there were a good many sensible coats and cardies on display, underneath, yesteryear’s clubbers were starting to move to the insistent beats of Simply Red’s cover of Barry White’s It’s Only Love Doing It’s Thing, complete with a Hucknall take on White’s bass baritone opening, Your Mirror, The Right Thing and a mash-up of Sunrise and I Can’t Go For That by Hall and Oates.

Ian Kirkham, who has been with Hucknall from the beginning, would step out of the shadows every so often to deliver scorching sax solos, Kenji Suzuki did the same for the guitar while Kevin Robinson was particularly effective on trumpet.

The encores started after a scant hour and 10 minutes – the gig could have done with being a bit longer - and included Money’s Too Tight (To Mention) and Something Got Me Started.

By this point, virtually the whole place was rocking.

A bubble from the world’s woes – Hucknall leaves his politics to his Twitter feed – the night ended with Mick taking a photo of the crowd with this phone, a fond farewell and a singalong and sway to If You Don’t Know Me By Now.