XSM at Ironworks, Inverness.
When Q Magazine described Simple Minds , on the release of their 2014 release ‘Big Music, as “Stadium-rock giants [who are] still very much alive and kicking” a resurgence was definitely on the cards. The Jim Kerr fronted band are currently touring Europe and are mostly playing one to two thousand capacity venues, the pull of their 1980’s heyday still appealing to audiences.
But what of XSM , subtitled Ex Simple Minds to make it clear, the band tonight features original Simple Minds drummer Brian McGee who left Simple Minds in the early Eighties. His brother Owen Paul (yes THAT Owen Paul) has taken up the lead singing duties and is joined by Joe O’Neill, Anthony William and Gary Irvine. The group fall somewhere between tribute and cover band, with the added complexity of the original member. On paper an impressive proposition.
So to the night, it is an intimate but enthusiastic gathering for the band, opening with Waterfront and continuing through a spotted history of Simple Minds tracks. Paul comes across as a charismatic frontman, more than able to handle the vocals and maybe even doing them better , if his between song banter is to be believed.
There is a clear history and passion for the material and that is communicated throughout, with a particular bias and commentary surrounding the material that McGee was involved with. It does create an added credence and value to the night.
It is perhaps unfortunate that Paul’s biggest hit Favourite Waste of Time is not given an outing “That’s for a different show” Paul explains as the song title is shouted out a few times. Understandable I guess. There is a fair bit of banter at the gig “You guys in Inverness are F****** great” Paul notes mid gig, “Brilliant Min” an audience member reciprocates.
This is definitely a Simple Minds night, and the audience , for the most part, are not complaining, the pace kicks up a little, but after a 45 minute set I think that everyone would be feeling cheated. It is a relief when the house lights do not come back on, and the final three songs, starting with the only non Simple Minds track of the evening is played, then Alive and Kicking (of course) finishing with Sanctify Yourself. It’s a welcomed loud and retro-tastic encore.
As a gig they did what they said they were going to do, with more than a little flair added not just just by Paul, but William’s flourishes on guitar, maybe it’s not so simple anymore.