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reviews | nme (october 14th, 1978)

 1978 tour
You know that band that everybody's been waiting for - the one that will achieve that magic fusion of the verbal visions of the Bowie/Harley/Verlaine twilight academy with the fertile firepower of the New Wave, that early Roxy Music with a rock 'n' roll heart?

Well, here they are. They're called Simple Minds, they come from Glasgow, and they create not just startlingly good rock music but a whole show, an event, all in their cramped corner of a crowded city pub, the Mars Bar.

There are two basic reasons why Simple Minds are such a devastating prospect, and they're called Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill.

Highlighted by unorthodox lighting, vocalist Kerr is an extraordinary performer. With blank made-up eyes in a pallid face, he has the hypnotic aura of a man running on psychic energy as he dances jerkily around, intoning his lyrics of urban unease. Dead Vandals, Subway Sex, You Better Watch Out - the titles speak for themselves.

Lead guitarist Burchill alternates between Flying V and occasional violin, providing a melodic but incisive intuitive complement to Kerr's preoccupied lyrics.

But a two-man show this is not. The six-piece line-up creates a thrilling, enthralling aural kaleidoscope of searing intros and instant riffs, tuneful aggression and sparing use of effects, brief bursts of disciplined creativity and fiery rhythm work.

Revelatory execution, strong visuals, consistently good material both in busy rockers like The Cocteau Twins or the building emotion of their Chelsea Girl instant classic... Already the superlatives are straining at the leash!

Weak points? Indistinct vocals, a jarring lack of presence between numbers, some indifferent pacing - a few rough edges but no real flaws.

Ending as they began with their odd but effective visual motif - a translucent blue head revolving silently in the darkness atop the PA Simple Minds drop the tempo to unveil their piece de resistance, Pleasantly Disturbed.

As the twisting, turning, eerie epic burns its way home, its hard to recall the last time I witnessed such an exciting yet thoughtful new talent.

Ian Cranna
NME, 14th October 1978