Simple Minds – New Gold Dream Live at Paisley Abbey: Album Review

Crashing beats and fantasy – Simple Minds recall their rise to a period of global domination with New Gold Dream receiving the Sky Arts treatment.

Release Date: 27th October 2023

Label: BMG

Format: CD / digital / vinyl

A burst of nostalgia like it’s 1982 with a welcome revisit to Simple Minds’ fifth album. New Gold Dream (81-81-83-84) has already had a deluxe, boxed set, reissue treatment but gets a reboot with the backing from the Sky Arts production ‘greatest albums live’ series

Not quite worldwide on the widest screen, but the show takes place in the more intimate and atmospheric confines of Paisley Abbey. “We wanted to play somewhere locally being from Glasgow; somewhere with some grandeur and out of the norm,” says Jim Kerr on the logistics of putting on the performance. The look and the history of Paisley Abbey certainly fits the bill for what he also calls “a special album for us.

There’s no crowd so we’re sadly missing Jim’s trademark “Lemme see those hands!” and the visuals are left to the grandeur of the building as Jim swirls his moves around the parquet flooring. Mick MacNeill, Mel Gaynor and Derek Forbes have since departed, but Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill remain, swelled by a more inclusive gender balanced line up

The breakthrough album which crossed over from their earlier work into the chart bothering pop sensibilities of Promised You A Miracle (used as a pre-show number by U2 no less in the early Eighties) and Glittering Prize. The great leap forward indeed and an album which in hindsight has confirmed its own legend. It was their launchpad and many fan’s gateway to Simple Minds.

Cherisse Osei counts them in and the ringing guitar notes to Someone Somewhere In Summertime flow forth and alongside the instantly recognizable hits, we’re offered the chance to appreciate their context within the album sequence, revisiting several under-the-radar tracks. Tracks that still hold a thread to the earlier days of Simple Minds see Big Sleep retain a brooding presence with some nice funky bass lines from Ged Grimes while Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel has those little bursts of electronics that define the period and confirm that bass groove. It feels almost minimal and again, in hindsight, a track that you could see Prince having a go at (payback for the Mind’s Sign ‘O’ The Times cover). It’s a minimalism template that bleeds into Somebody Up There Likes You; lead bass and keyboard/subtle guitar decoration.

Is side two the more significant? Certainly the title track is where the dancing sequencer and deep baritone “la-la-la” heralds the band’s masterpiece. Again, the groove and pulse are enhanced by some clever synth parts that lead into the chorus. Jim knows it and his delivery is suitably stately. He revels and relishes the classic lines, “and when you dream, dream in the dream with me.” It almost feels psychedelic.

The finale of Hunter And The Hunted (already a fab live version from forty years ago – !! – on the Waterfront single) makes way for the cool ambience of King Is White And In The Crowd. Another gentle nudge for those e who focus on the hits that it remains seven minutes of underrated experimentation that a band like The Utopia Strong or some of the Post Rock or Shoegaze (or even the Progeers with whom the Minds are often linked) brigade would be proud of.

The package complete with embossed stained glass window, sees the lyrics to the two major songs that open each side of the album (for it should be a vinyl record as it was in ’82) spiraling around the inner sleeve. Bono will surely have his red marbled vinyl spinning on the Hewson turntable in a bout of nostalgia.

Here’s the opening number from the album from the Abbey:

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3 replies »

  1. A great review and so refreshing to read the words of someone who knows the history of the band as opposed to simply rattling off a press release. I’ll follow this site now.

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