Dream Giver - Simple Minds Online Unofficially SaMPLE MINDS Tour Diary

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This section has been written by Simon Hayward, keyboard player with tribute band SaMPLE MINDS

1st October
Back on the road again
Being in a Simple Minds tribute band has been quite an experience, not only for the enjoyment of playing great music live, but for the opportunity to travel and perform to enthusiastic audiences where ever we go.

This will be the first time I've played with Sample Minds abroad and I've been really looking forward to it. I haven't seen Dave Kelly (guitar) or Steve Hempton (vocals) since we played our last gig at the Simple Minds Convention in Glasgow (April 2003). Steve had said that he had a surprise for us. I was expecting a new addition to his 'Bill Oddie' style wardrobe, though the last thing I was expecting was BLOND HAIR!!! This new image apparently dates back to Jim Kerr's often overlooked 'Crystal Tips and Alistair' period!!! What were Steve and Jim thinking?!!

It's early evening and at Manchester Airport and we're have difficulty getting our music gear through customs. The check in guy had previously portrayed the camp commandant in the film 'Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence' and was clearly still in character. Apparently we were too heavy. We toyed with the idea of leaving Dave behind, but eventually decided to pay the additional airport tax and take him with us! We were a bit concerned that all three of us sitting on one side of the plane might damage the under-carriage, though everything seemed OK and up, up and away we went.

During the flight I was able to achieve a much-held ambition of having a shit on an aeroplane. In the finest tradition of English / European relations I thought it only appropriate to wait until we were over Belgium!!! The intensity of the toilet flush came as a surprise - I thought the plane was going to decompress! Still, I felt much better (and lighter), though the way the air stewardess walked up and down the aisle squirting air freshener was a bit embarrassing!!!

As we arrive in Cologne, blond hair Steve presents his passport featuring a photo of brown hair Steve. The customs controller studied the images very hard - then burst into hysterics!!! (The years clearly have not been kind!)

At the airport we are met by our German drummer, Thorsten Ortmann. Apart from the rather effeminate pink shirt he's wearing, he looks the same as when I last saw him. Somehow our gear (and Dave) fits into Thorsten's small car. The weather is terrible - really heavy rain. In the car on the way to Hamm, we hear on the radio an interview that Thorsten had given about the band. They also play our demo of 'Don't You Forget About Me' and half way through it seamlessly integrates with the Simple Minds version. Cool!

Thorsten had recently moved to a new house that none of us had seen before. It was most impressive. Judging by the decor, the previous (or current?) owner must be a porn baron! After a beer and a pizza it was getting late, so we retired to the English wing of Thorsten's palace.

It was a long night!

What with Dave's snoring and Steve shouting "Dave, shut the f**k up!" I got little sleep. Steve's cries of "Paddy, no!" during the night remain a bit of a mystery and I fear to question what he was dreaming about! (Paddy is Steve's dog!)

Instrumental re-workings of classic Simple Minds songs by Simon Hayward

Sound in 70 Cities (5.23)
War Babies (4.10)
20th Century Promised Land (4.02)
Soundtrack for Every Heaven (5.02)
League of Nations (5.43)
Real to real (2.43)
C Moon Cry Like a Baby (4.39)
Hunter and the Hunted (3.32)
Factory (3.50)
This Fear of Gods (4.32)
King is White and in the Crowd (4.28)
East at Easter (2.08)
This Earth that You Walk Upon (5.24)
Pleasantly Disturbed (6.41)
Somebody Up There Likes You (4.31)
Love Song (4.26)
Once Upon a Time Tour Intro (1.11)
Theme for Great Cities (5.40)

On sale now.
Contact Simon Hayward for details.

2nd October
Ambassador Kelly addresses the nation!
After a fantastic breakfast at what we christened, 'Thorston Towers', we went to The Hoppegarden in Hamm to start rehearsals. As we drive along we see lots of posters and billboards advertising our gigs. Upon arrival I'm impressed by the revered 'German efficiency' as there are already two groupies waiting to greet us in the rehearsal room. However, before we got too excited, Thorsten explained that these lovely ladies were just there to do a radio interview with us!

Now it has to be said, that as a group we have little experience with media relations. The only guideline I was given was not to mention either the war, or England's 5 - 1 football result! For about half an hour Steve answers questions as Thorston translates and Dave and I giggle and fart in the background.

With the interview 'strangely' finishing sooner than expected, we assemble the gear and we discover that one of my keyboards has been damaged in transit. As I only play with one finger, I'd just have to try and get by with the 88 notes available on my other keyboard. Our first rehearsal together is always an exciting time as it's the opportunity to see if our independent preparations gel as a full band. We started with Waterfront and were pleased with the results. Our German bass player, Jacky Biermann wouldn't be joining us until later in the afternoon (probably participating in a porn video!), so I played the bass parts with my left hand - badly!

At about 5pm we had a lovely beer at The Hoppegarden bar. This was where we were going to be playing the following weekend. The venue was not as I imagined as I'd got photos of the bands previous gigs in Radbod confused with The Hoppegarden. At the bar there were several magazines with interviews and photos of us and I was VERY impressed with the amount of publicity and promotion that Thorsten had put into our October gigs.

Now, having been joined by Jacky we ran through the full set. We'd decided to make 8 song changes from the set we last performed at the Simple Minds Convention in Glasgow. Due to the unknown factor of the audiences we would be playing to, we wanted to play safe and include more 'hits'. Of the 8 new tracks we only struggled with Hypnotised and I Travel. Hypnotised was just about good enough to get by with, though it was felt it was better to leave I Travel for another time. I was surprised at how good See the Lights and Someone Somewhere (In Summertime) sounded, as they are not among my favourite SM songs.

Wrapping things up at about 11pm we headed into town to get something to eat. Calling in on a Turkish restaurant, I was again impressed to see photos and articles of us in their waiting area. Now it has to be said, football relationships between Turkey and England have never been great, but that's no excuse for the many trips to the bathroom we later had to endure!!!

Despite being very tired, I again struggled to sleep as set list permutations and Dave's snoring were going through my head!

3rd October
Last night I hadz a sheeeet / The ghost of Bielfeld!
Gig day! Thorsten had got up early to collect our van and PA. rig. Thorsten's girlfriend Angela, served us with a lovely breakfast complimented by Ali G on the video - the perfect host! After breakfast we worked out the nights set list and decided to include Hypnotised.

Today was a special day for Thorsten's Mother and Father as they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. We went around to join their party at about midday. After a bit of confusion trying to explain that we weren't the 'real' Simple Minds (though Dave is clearly a dead ringer for Charlie Burchill!), we enjoined some fine German hospitality. We don't normally drink before a gig, though it has to be said that the beer flowed freely!!! As the party started to move into the sauna, we decided it was probably best to say our goodbyes before the car keys were handed around! After Thorsten's brother's farewell 'death grip' handshake, we all have serious doubts if we'll ever use our right hands again!

When we met up with Jacky at The Hoppegarden (our staging area) we found that we had too much gear for the van, so we also had to take Jacky's 'porn car'. (Does everything in Germany look like it's from a porn movie?!) It took about an hour and a half to get to Beildfeld. Maybe we could have got their sooner had we been sober and known the way! The venue was a large Irish Bar in which was once the city town hall. We are greeted by the Irish owner Ray, who is very accommodating to ensure we have everything we need. He tells us that there have been many telephone enquiries about our performance and it looks like it could be a good night.

We are able to partially hang the claddagh backdrop and have to remove a suit of armour from the small stage to make room. There are a lot of pillars in the venue, which will make acoustics problematic. Thorsten and Jacky go about assembling the P.A. system. I try my best to help, though through a combination of drink and tiredness I find it difficult to absorb instructions. After I had something to eat I felt much better. (Compliments to the Chef!).

There we a few problems getting the P.A. up and running and this was clearly very stressful for Thorsten. The stage was an unusual shape. I was in a corner behind a pillar (is there something you're trying to tell me guys?) and Dave and Jacky were playing next to each other on the opposite side (like Status Quo). Thorsten was using an electronic drum set up which I much preferred, as usually being beside him I get the full audio onslaught of his kit. This was much easier on my ears and I thought the sound was great. We only played about half of Waterfront at the sound check, then went to kick back for a bit before the gig.

Based on an earlier discussion with the venue we had prepared to do two sets. Then the rather 'camp' assistant manager called into our dressing room as we were getting changed (coincidence?) and asked us to split the set into three parts. This was a bit unexpected - he then added that he'd had to open up the venue's other two bars due the number that had come through the door! We went to have a look - then we went to the toilet!

Here's what we played:

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3
= = = = = =
= = = = = =
*new songs in the set from last time

Set 1 went fine, though we had a problem with One Step Closer. There's a loop that plays in the background and Thorsten uses a click track to keep in time with it. Unfortunately the click track had broken during the intro strings! Somehow he kept in time by ear - not easy I can assure you - we're lucky to have the '2nd' best drummer in the world in our band! After a brief pause to sort out the issue we were off again closing with a sing-along Don't You Forget About Me.

Though we knew what songs we were going to do during set 2, I made up the running order as we went along. Ghostdancing was amazing. Steve got up on a banister during the song and the crowd reaction was really thrilling - or maybe it was the anticipation that the banister would break? From the seclusion of my little corner, I was having ongoing problems with a large drunk German who kept tugging at my leg and asking for Paul McCartney songs. (At least I thought he was asking for Paul McCartney songs - they were the only two words I could understand!). This was quite off putting as I was trying to play Space at the time, but Steve sang a verse of Live and Let Die and he went away.

It was nice to meet a few SM.com community members at this gig (and a good luck message from Mike Simpson in America). We had several requests for War Babies and we're sorry we didn't play it. During the 2nd interval we discussed jamming it, but decided that unrehearsed we might have problems. (Maybe next time guys). As a compromise I ran the War Babies intro loop for a bit as we came back on stage before going into Belfast Child which we dedicated to the staff at the Irish bar who really looked after us. As we closed the set with Alive and Kicking, everyone was going mad (or was it the beer?)!

We hadn't rehearsed or played East at Easter for over a year, but we felt we could pull it off. Our set list had been mostly greatest hits and I was amazed at the reaction to East at Easter (we played the version from the Sparkle 84 tour) and the audience response went up to another level. Then on Room (in which we also now include Book of Brilliant Things) the roof came down! We have an unwritten rule that we don't repeat songs in the set, though for the first time ever we played Don't You for a second time. Needless to say the reaction was great and the microphone was taken by the audience and passed around during the lah, lah bit.

At 24 songs this was the longest set we'd ever played. The heat on stage was almost unbearable so thank God we had the breaks in between. It was 1.30am and we were knackered! Thank you Bielfeld - you were amazing!

"First Comes the rush, then comes the fall" (She Knows).

The last thing you want to do after a playing over a period of four and a half hours is to have to dismantle your P.A. system. (It must weigh over a ton). But, it was a job that had to be done. As we wheeled the flight cases through the venues crypts to our van, I had a rather unusual experience. As I was loading one of Dave's guitars, I thought Jacky was holding the back and lifting it too, but when I turned around I was all alone. The guitar case was in my hand at about waist height and as I pulled it towards me 'something' pulled it back. It felt like I was pulling a rope with someone holding the other end. I pulled harder and then the grip was released and I fell back. Now, the guitar was not caught on anything - it was just loose in my hand. I was quite freaked out about this, though I decided not to tell anyone.

After the van was loaded we had 'one for the road' with the bar staff / vampires! The Assistant Manager said, "Dis place.it'z all furrrked up!" We asked what he meant and he asked, "Haz any of you encountered zi ghosts?" Steve said how uncomfortable he felt in one of the cellars near our dressing room earlier and I then told my tale of my tug of war with the guitar case - I'm sure they think I'm mad, (or maybe I just drank too much!!!) Anyway, we had a 'Dusk 'til Dawn' feeling about the place and left really fast!

The drive back through the torrential rain seemed to last forever and at about 4.30am we finally got to bed. It was another restless night. After such a great gig it was difficult to unwind - and thanks earlier to Thorsten's brother, our right hands didn't work anymore!!!

Instrumental re-workings of classic Simple Minds songs by Simon Hayward

Someone Somewhere in Summertime (4.09)
Life in Oils (3.22)
Big Sleep - fookmiester remix (6.58)
Easy (2.50)
Veldt / Spaceface (3.20)
Scar (3.02)
Homosapien (5.24)
In Trance as Mission (3.44)
Hello (3.01)
Come a Long Way (5.00)
Film Theme (3.07)
Book of Brilliant Things (4.28)
See the Lights (4.21)
I Travel 85 (3.46)
Room (5.16)
Boys from Brazil (3.10)
Cry Again (3.30)
Waterfront (4.37)
New Gold Dream (5.37)

On sale now.
Contact Simon Hayward for details.

4th October
Mister Belly's All Star Tribute Band comes to town!
We had another early start - Steve woke up first and wanted someone to play with! After breakfast Thorsten, Steve and myself returned the P.A. that we'd hired. While we were gone Jacky had arrived at 'Thorsten Towers'. (The porn car outside gave his presence away!). After we worked out the set list, I printed it on Thorsten's computer and was able to make a brief post about the previous nights gig on SM.com.

It was a long drive from Hamm to Aalst via Holland. We got a little bit lost somewhere near Brussels and finally made it to Paddy's Celtic bar at about 6.30pm. We were greeted by chants of "Sample Minds, Sample Minds" and I thought this is going to be one mad night - and it was!

It was a rush to get things set up. The stage was very small and we were unable to hang the claddagh backdrop. I was quite literally boxed in behind my keyboards. Once in, it was hard to get out and I was gagging to get a drink of something. There was no power on the stage, which delayed things further. When an extension lead was threaded down, Dave plugged in and all the power in the bar went down. Once power was restored Dave did it again! (I don't think he liked hearing 'Love Like Blood' for the 3rd time!).

I must say I really dislike sound checking when there is an audience present. It's not a very comfortable experience listening to our requests for more 'bass frequency' on the kick drum etc (unless you're Thorsten!) and being constantly photographed and chants of "Mr Belly, Mr Belly", (which due to our girth could be directed at at least 60% of the band!) is quite distracting! We played Waterfront and The American and despite not being able to hear Thorsten's drums on stage (a rarity I can assure you) we were relatively happy with the sound. The bar was not really suited as a live music venue and the sound on stage was not very clear. As we went through the crowd to go to our rooms I was asked if that was it? Apparently some thought the sound check was the gig. If only it was that easy!

Our rooms disappointingly did not have jacuzzi's and leopard skin upholstery as requested - though they were comfortable and our reception buffet was nice. Steve embarrassingly walks in on me as I'm in the middle of my 'pre-gig-nerves'!!! (He also did this to Dave - it's his way!!!)

There's a lot of keyboard and drum electronics that run parallel to the live stuff to create the big Simple Minds sound and in my department there's A LOT that can go wrong. The few minutes before a gig are a very stressful time for me. I need about five minutes to sit quietly to clear my head.

So, off we go - I crawl into my position and Serge from the Belgium SM fan club introduces us. I'm happy and relieved when the One Step Closer intro starts correctly and off we go!

= = = = = =
= = = = = =

The monitoring on stage was difficult at times and lots of Irish memorabilia that was attached to the walls fell off - mostly on Thorsten! All of the songs went OK and the audience reaction was great. Being so tired from the previous night and then playing for over two and a half hours without a break was difficult, though the crowd lifted us and kept us going. Clive's face being only 6 inches away from Steve's during the gig was somewhat distracting (and disturbing!). I'd always been impressed at how Dave mumbles in the same way as Charlie during our gigs, though rather than the song words it transpires that he say's "Simon is a c**t!" repeatedly. This was very evident when I started playing The American before he was ready and getting a bit carried away (and loud) during New Gold Dream!!!

As the band left the stage after New Gold Dream, I was still boxed in. By the time I'd crawled my way out, the band had returned and I had to crawl back into my position again. (I'm sure Mick MacNeil never went through this!)

Anyway, we banged through the encores finishing with Room/Book of Brilliant Things. It had been a really full on set and frankly a test of endurance to complete it. We quickly cleared our gear out of the way so Da Mighty One could start his set.

After getting changed and cleaned up we returned to join the party. Dil's set was in full teutonic swing with 'seamless' integration of tracks!!! It was great to see so many familiar faces and meet lots of new people too. Thanks to the organisers and everyone who came - especially those who travelled large distances to be there - we love you all (even Clive!). I apologise for my 'disco shirt' and Jacky's hat that we wore during the gig and would also like to thank everyone who bought our CD's. This money came in very handy when we finished drinking our beer allowance!!!

Eventually we went to bed at about 3am - though we had the giggles and made a lot of noise as we did our 'Jackass Party Boy' impressions. I hope we didn't wake anyone up!

5th October
The morning after / Intermission!
We emerged at about 9.30am for breakfast. Clive looked like he'd gone twelve rounds with The Predator and Lawrie is wandering in a dimension other than our own. (Did he go to bed?). I'm pleased to find that all our music stuff is where we left it and we say our goodbyes and drive back to Cologne airport. As is customary, we teach Jacky some new English. His vocabulary now includes, "ring piece, sheriff's badge, turtle's head" and 'I needz a sheeeet!'. Indeed Jacky did need a shit following all the Guinness he drank, "I needz a black sheeeet!!!"

So us English chaps flew back to 'Old Blighty' with our intention to learn I Travel before the two gigs next weekend (10th / 11th October) at The Hoppegarden in Hamm.

It would be great to see some of you at those gigs too.

To quote Steve from our radio interview,

"Hamm will rock!"

See you there.

Simon Hayward

SaMPLE MINDS - Live On The Waterfront

Waterfront (4.15)
Alive and Kicking (6.36)
Love Song - live (5.00)
Someone Somewhere in Summertime (4.42)
Don't You forget about me (5.25)

Live - Glasgow, Scotland 2003
Theme For Great Cities (4.04)
War Babies (3.27)
The American (4.59)
King is White and in the Crowd (4.24)
New Sunshine Morning (3.50)
Sanctify Yourself (6.12)
Pleasantly Disturbed (6.43)
Alive and Kicking - featuring Betty! (6.15)
New Gold Dream (6.41)

On sale now.
Contact Simon Hayward for details.