Simple Minds – In Concert – De Gigant Apeldoorn, Netherlands – March 22, 1980 – Flip Martian collection –
Simple Minds in concert this week. Live at De Gigant Apeldoorn in the Netherlands and recorded on March 22, 1980 by Dutch Radio network VPRO.
The roots of Simple Minds are in the short-lived punk band Johnny & The Self-Abusers, founded on the South Side of Glasgow in early 1977. The band was conceived (initially as an imaginary band) by would-be Glasgow scene-maker Alan Cairnduff, although he left the job of organising the band to his friend John Milarky. At Cairnduff’s suggestion, Milarky teamed up with two musicians he had never worked with before – budding singer and lyricist Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill. Kerr and Burchill had known each other since the age of eight. After joining Johnny & The Self-Abusers, they brought in two of their school friends, Brian McGee on drums and Tony Donald on bass (all four had previously played together in the schoolboy band Biba-Rom!).
With Milarky established as singer, guitarist and saxophonist, the line-up was completed by his friend Allan McNeill as third guitarist. Kerr and Burchill also doubled on keyboards and violin respectively. In common with the early punk bands, various members took on stage names—Milarky became “Johnnie Plague”, Kerr became “Pripton Weird”, McNeill chose “Sid Syphilis” and Burchill chose “Charlie Argue”.
Johnny & The Self-Abusers played their first gig on Easter Monday, 11 April 1977, at the Doune Castle pub in Glasgow. The band played support to rising punk stars Generation X in Edinburgh two weeks later. The band went on to play a summer of concerts in Glasgow. The band soon split into two factions, with Milarky and McNeill on one side and Kerr, Donald, Burchill and McGee on the other: at the same time, Milarky’s compositions were being edged out in favour of those of Kerr and Burchill.
In November 1977, Johnny & The Self-Abusers released its only single, “Saints and Sinners”, on Chiswick Records (which was dismissed as being “rank and file” in a Melody Maker review). The band split on the same day that the single was released, with Milarky and McNeil going on to form The Cuban Heels. Ditching the stage names and the overt punkiness, the remaining members continued together as Simple Minds (naming themselves after a David Bowie lyric from his song “Jean Genie”).
Simple Minds’ second release, Real to Real Cacophony was a significant departure from the pop tunes of Life in a Day. The album had a darker and far more experimental atmosphere, announcing some of the new wave experimentation that became the band’s trademark sound over the next two albums. Much of the album was written in the studio, although Simple Minds had been playing early versions of several tracks during the recent tour dates.
Innovations which the band displayed on Real to Real Cacophony included minimalist structures based around the rhythm section of Forbes and McGee, plus the occasional use of unconventional time signatures. The band also experimented with elements of dub, and included the wordless and atmospheric “Veldt” in which they attempted to create an impression of an African landscape using electronic buzzes and drones, Burchill’s improvised saxophone lines and Kerr’s chants and cries. The album also generated the single “Changeling”.
For a reminder of their 1980 period, hit the Play button and crank it up. Starts off quietly, but don’t let that fool you.