Simple Minds Live in Newcastle ‘82

How a former Scottish punk band finally found their signature sound.

In 1977 a short-lived punk band named Johnny & The Self-Abusers was founded on the South Side of Glasgow, which would later go on to form one of the most important groups of the 1980s. The band consisted of would-be Glasgow scene-makers Alan Cairnduff, John Milarky, Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Brian McGee, Tony Donald, and Allan McNeil.

As a band, they played their first official gig on Easter Monday, April 11th, 1977, at the Doune Castle pub in Glasgow. In November 1977 they released their only single before splitting on the same day. Milarky and McNeill went on to form The Cuban Heels while Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Brian McGee and Tony Donald proceeded with an entirely new image. Simple Minds was the name of the band, purposely taken from the lyrics to David Bowie’s “Jean Genie” – “He’s so simple-minded he can’t drive his module / He bites on the neon and sleeps in a capsule.”

In 1978, the newly formed band recruited Duncan Barnwell as a second guitarist and Barra-born keyboard player Mick MacNeil. The band’s line-up would finally settle after Tony Donald quit and Barnwell was asked to leave. When the first demo tape was recorded, Derek Forbes, a Scottish bassist, decided to join. The remaining members would eventually form the so-called first serious line-up of Simple Minds.

“I don’t get up at half-past ten and play Joy Division. I play Diana Ross. But, of course, nobody would associate her with me.”

Jim Kerr

After releasing their first few records, and after indulging in a wide variety of different styles, the band was about to find their perfect formula and signature sound around the time of 1982. In an interview on May 1st, 1982, by Record mirror, a British weekly music newspaper, Jim Kerr stated the following: “In the past year we’ve found ourselves – a lot has fallen into place. And as soon as we stopped thinking about how we were doing in the UK, it started to happen there.”

Jim, who was on the newspaper’s cover, further explained that things started to get better as soon as they stopped thinking about their performance. After feeling, they wanted to mirror everything and claiming to be a bit typecast, Jim goes on saying: “I don’t get up at half-past ten and play Joy Division. I play Diana Ross. But, of course, nobody would associate her with me.”

Things became indeed much better after the band forced itself to stop mirroring and copying others and decided to follow their own path and originality instead. After that, Jim says they never listened to the radio and were ready to make some changes. They really needed to prove themselves amongst other bands and show why they deserve to be heard by millions of people.

Their 1982 gig in Newcastle, clearly shows their talents back in the day and how they were able to get the audience on their feet pretty fast. The set was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour on the band’s high-profile New Gold Dreams tour, exactly before they found massive success with their inclusion on The Breakfast Club soundtrack. By this time, frontman Jim Kerr had already shown his vocal capabilities and proved he was one of the best of the era.

The opening was rhythmically heavy in their style, starting with “Hunter And The Hunted” before moving into an absolutely captivating performance of “Glittering Prize”. Other tracks that were played during the band’s set included hits like “Big Sleep”, “Promised You A Miracle”, “New Gold Dream” or “Someone Somewhere in Summertime”. Below you can watch the almost entire gig that has kindly been uploaded in great quality by Cyborg Dance.


1.Hunter and the Hunted
2.Glittering Prize
3.Someone Somewhere in Summertime
4.Sweat in Bullet
5.Promised You a Miracle
6.King Is White and in the Crowd
7.I Travel
9.The American
10.Big Sleep
11.New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

Featured Image by Jens Holloch

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