It's time to celebrate special songs of the 80s that could never be forgotten
It's late in the evening, autumn 1983 and my baby boy, Alex, is wide awake. He's not hungry or unwell, just demanding my company. Every time I put him down in his cot, his howling protest is instant and heartbreaking; I've been alone with him all day, I'm exhausted, and I need him to sleep.
The record is already on the turntable – one of my big favourites of the early 80s. I lower the needle onto track one, side one, of Simple Minds' New Gold Dream (81, 82, 83, 84) and the opening guitar riff of Someone, Somewhere (In Summertime) .
No whispering or tiptoeing in my house... I blast up the volume and whirl my tiny dance partner around the living room, relishing the sweeping, synth-rich, bass-heavy grooves, topped by the warm, bright tones of bouncy Scottish vocalist Jim Kerr. By track three – Promised You a Miracle – the baby's tired little head has relaxed onto my shoulder, his eyes are closed and his breathing is calm. Even now, if I hear any song from that LP, 30 years melt away and there I am, babe in arms, lost in music.
"So, a belated thank you for saving a young mother's sanity," I tell Jim, who is on the phone to chat about the band's Greatest Hits + world tour, which comes to Plymouth Pavilions this spring.
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Not so long ago 1980s music was so totally out of vogue that I'd have avoided telling that little story at all costs, I admit.
"Ah, but it's official, you know," laughs Jim. "Simple Minds are cool again. The perception has changed.
"For a while the whole 80s thing got such a bashing – no one had a good word to say about it. The truth is that it was a really exciting time and there was tons of good music out there, lots of great bands and great acts."
Simple Minds began as a school band in Glasgow in the post-punk late 1970s, influenced by the likes of the Velvet Underground, David Bowie and the Doors. Still alongside Jim from those earliest days is his friend, guitarist, keyboard player and co-writer Charlie Burchill.
"Charlie and I say we are still on the journey together; we have known each other since we were eight years old," says Jim. "We both moved to this new housing scheme in Glasgow when it was still half-built, just a huge pile of sand and cement.
"From our mid-teens we were practising in the school hall. I'm very grateful for that period when we grew up making music."
From gigs in their home town of Glasgow, they went on to sell 25 million albums. They have performed in some of the biggest stadiums in the world, their historic set at Live Aid was introduced by Jack Nicholson. They've had at least 20 hit singles, including Don't You (Forget About Me), Alive and Kicking, Belfast Child, She's A River and Glitterball.
"In terms of popularity there was this incredible growth for us over the first ten or 12 years. And then there was a sort of lost decade when we were trying to put together our lives outside of the band," adds Jim, who was married and subsequently divorced from both Chrissie Hynde and Patsy Kensit.
"When you have a lengthy career, it's inevitable that things wax and wane. There are times when finding new ideas is like getting blood from a stone, and then luck and fortune come your way again."
With that in mind he says it's time to add a new chapter to their story. "It's three or four years since we had a new album out, so we are due one next year," says Jim. "We spent the whole summer, in between festivals, writing and recording. The other day Charlie called me about a piece of music we had worked on years ago and lost and he had found it again. We were ranting and raving about it like we used to when we were 16. We are very much in that frame of mind at the moment."
But they are also relishing the chance to play some of their back catalogue, and Virgin Records release Celebrate: The Greatest Hits + (including two new tracks) in March.
"What I like about most of the dates we are doing is that we haven't played these hits in these places in a long time," adds Jim. And he's not wrong – the last time the band performed in the Westcountry was at Plymouth Pavilions in April 2002.
"I hope it's going to be really special. We could have played five or six arenas and be done and dusted; this is the first time we have had 30 dates in the UK since 1979. Every single night we will have to prove that we merit the fans' enthusiasm."
Simple Minds play Plymouth Pavilions on Tuesday, April 9. Box office: 0845 146 1460.