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simple minds 1978

"My assistant [Brian Hogg] hadn't lied, it was the best band I'd ever seen. The Mars Bar is a small club but Jim Kerr projected as if he was on stage at the Apollo." - Bruce Findlay.

The embryonic Simple Minds quickly became the resident band at Glasgow's Mars Bar (it was the only pub fearless enough to book reformed punks). They played every Sunday night.

Even though they were a pub band, they had their own sound engineer (David Henderson) and lights (Jaine Henderson). The band would come on with their backs to the audience, to a tape of weird sounds put together by David Henderson, with a revolving police light in a perspex head casting a blue beam around the cramped environment.

They were writing new songs every week, with tracks appearing and disappearing throughout the year. Some of the songs played never made it to official release, only existing on scratchy bootlegs.

By the end of the year, they were under the watchful eye of Bruce Findlay, had signed with Zoom Records, were a support band in demand (having supported The Only Ones, Ultravox, Generation X and The Strangers) and were ready to cut their debut album.

[Given that the band had residency at the Mars Bar every Sunday night, then I've taken the liberty to add those to the tour - these are marked '*'. This tallys well with Ian Cranna's short review (although he suggested April 17th which was a Monday - unlikely) and matches perfectly with the bootleg of the 30th June. Additionally, the Pollocks Hall gig in December was their 48th gig, which works out quite close once these Mars Bar dates are added.]

Other missing gigs include nights at Cinders and Zhivagos (two Glasgow discos).

"I was the manager of the Mars Bar in the 1978 period and I was the one that started putting on live bands in the the bar. We had to change the name of the bar to Countdown because the Mars company threatened to shut us down!"

"I can remember lots of gigs by lots of different bands but the Minds gigs always stand out as the best... The Zones, The Cuban Heels, Modern Man and The Venigmas also were pretty good during that period and of course the Berlin Blondes."

"The Mars Bar was always packed out and Billy Sloan, a young slim music reporter from Clyde Guide used to beg me to let him in early!" - Harry Conaghan

"When we started Simple Minds, we had a Sunday night residency in the Mars Bar. Sadly, that building, which used to be in St Enoch's Square in Glasgow, has now gone. We used to play in the back room. It was like a living room in the sense that there wasn’t really a stage. There was a couple of couches and the full band used to play round the back of a couch. Those gigs were really important to us because every week we would write a new song, like Chelsea Girl or Life In A Day, and we would try it out. The room was full of our pals, but when the A&R men (record label talent scouts) came up to see us, everybody knew the songs so as far as they were concerned it was a set full of hits." - Jim, 3rd November 2014

Cripes, a freebie newsletter which could be picked up at Bruces record shops, was vital for details of forthcoming gigs, and all important reviews and comment of previous shows.

These "Red Eye" posters would've been posted up to advertise early gigs. The gap at the bottom was for venue information and concert dates.

Satellite City, Glasgow, UK
17th January 1978
Supporting: Steel Pulse
With: Rev Volting And The Backstabbers (later became Fun 4) and The Nu Sonics (later became Orange Juice)
Main Set: Act Of Love / ... ... White Light-White Heat ... / ... Wasteland ... / ... Pleasantly Disturbed
Tickets cost £1.50. Jim appeared with a basin bowl hair cut and sombre priest's frock coat. It was 'officially' the band's first gig.

"On the dance floor the standard disco clientele dance to standard disco records. On tables down the sides hippies (here for the reggae presumably) stick Rizla together. Reeking of new leather, punks patrol the perimeters, trying to look as subterranean as possible. Orange Juice still play a song about the event." - Glen Gibson.

"It might be blue skies and sunshine where I am today, but it was a freezing cold day around mid-January when we turned up to play our first ever gig in Satellite City, Glasgow. A lowly third act on the bill, we walked on to silence, but walked off to mayhem. Pleasantly Disturbed, just written the weekend before was the last song song of the set. It sounded special! 38 years later it still does." - Jim, 13th January 2015

"Not to make too much of a fuss... quite yet. Nevertheless it was a mind boggling 39 years ago this very week that Simple Mind crept onto a pitch black stage in Satellite City, Glasgow, to play our first ever gig. On January 17th to be precise. And it is genuinely hard for me to believe that that is so. After all, stop to consider how long that actually is? Probably the best way to do that, is to consider how monumental the world has changed within the last four decades? Likewise dwell a little on some of the earth shattering events - both good and bad - that have taken place within that time frame? On top of that, maybe think about your own life, and how things have come and gone as the years rolled past. The highs and lows, joys and sadness. How we have all grown from kids, adolescents, adults and er, middle age and beyond. Jesus! Either way, having done that. I am sure you will agree that 39 years is a heck of a long time. A lifetime ago in some cases."

"But there you have it. 39 years ago both Charlie and I, along with drummer Brian McGee, bassist Tony Donald and guitarist Duncan Barnwell, rolled up outside The Glasgow Apollo and began lifting our sparse equipment up what seemed endless flights of stairs, to the dusty ballroom that sat atop the then infamous Glasgow venue. Davie and Jaine Henderson, doing sound and lights respectively, were also there. Giving us help and encouragement in a way that no one did back then. But we were a gang, and our band could never have achieved anything without "the gang." That was evident even back then, it has been true every step of the way in fact."

"And what else do I remember? I recall all sorts of things. It was a bright but very cold day in Glasgow. Charlie, Tony and I took the No. 12 bus into the city centre from our housing scheme in Toryglen. Stopping at one of the many chip shops en route, just as we had endless times previously, especially when we had gone to see our favourite artists e.g. Bowie, Roxy, Mott, Genesis, Harvey, Cockney Rebel, Alice Cooper and so many more. I am sure that I decided not to eat, already feeling too nervous about the evening to come. I had lost all appetite. To this day I rarely eat anything after midday on the day of a gig. I guess the nerves still come into play."

"That day was going to be very different for us, and I could really feel it. Already a big deal, we were after all headed to the same building in Renfield Street where we had seen all those bands play. This time though, far from spectating, we would be playing our very own music. That was both scary and hard to believe."

"Tony Donald and Duncan Barnwell: Their time within Simple Minds might have been short lived, but I always consider them to be original members. Tony of course was a school friend, a class mate from primary school. His enthusiasm for music also lit some kind of passion within me and Charlie. So let's be clear: in the very beginning it was not only just me and Charlie who dreamt this thing up. Tony and of course Brian McGee were fundamental. And while considering that, Joe Donnelly, who later went on to form The Silencers, also was a big part of our embryonic, schoolboy energy that years later would emerge and become known as Simple Minds. As for Duncan Barnwell? Despite his little lasting involvement, there is no doubt about it, he is an original Simple Mind. A little bit older, he already carried himself like a professional, and both he and his gold Les Paul guitar were with us almost every day in those crucial first twelve months as our initial songs and attitude were coming together. Eventually it was Duncan who introduced us to his mate, Derek Forbes. Well, I think we all know what unfolded as a result of that. In fact Barnwell, perhaps more than any of us, felt certain that Simple Minds were headed for big stuff. His quiet conviction bordered on a neat kind of arrogance in my view, and I looked up to him for that. He was no less than 100% genuine in his belief, that in turn helped us all believe. When for example considering all other local bands at that time, or any competition for that matter, he expressed a kind of attitude best summed up as "F*ck them. Who cares? They don't count!" To this day I am both ashamed and happy to say that a little of Duncan's philosophy lives on in our camp."- Jim, 15th January 2017

"The venue was Satellite City, Glasgow."

"The band featured Brian McGee (Drums), Tony Donald (Bass), Duncan Barnwell (Guitar), Charlie Burchill (Guitar) and yours truly (Vocals). It was there and then that Simple Minds stepped onto a stage for the very first time."

"Unheard of previously, and walking on to nothing more than the sound of our own feet. Surely no one present in that dimly-lit ballroom could have envisaged that those inexperienced teenagers plugging in, would from that evening set out on an odyssey of four decades and more? Yet inexplicably. 40 years later. Here we are. Anything but teenagers?"

"Memories from that far back are inevitably opaque. More precarious than precise. Still, I have no problem recalling the huge frisson of excitement as Charlie spat out the opening chords to a song that introduced us to the world. Or, OK then... to a few hundred people at least. Anyway, it was called Act Of Love. And it just sounded glorious."

"In any case, the roof was somehow raised that evening. A first for us. And Boy, it felt so good. I guess it is fair to say that in partnership with our globetrottin’ road crews, we have been in the business of raising roofs the world over ever since."

"And what blessed work that is. As long as you have the right tools? For Simple Minds that has meant writing hundreds of songs, and releasing tons of records. Once done, we’ve hurtled ourselves around the globe repeatedly. Performing thousands of shows and energetically entertaining millions. None of which could have been done without a growing ensemble of musicians and singers, contributing to the shape and design of our sound. None of which could have been done without our producers and managers to encourage and guide. None of which could have been done without our fans and supporters."

"To all the aforementioned – our gratitude is truly immeasurable."

"It is said that “the journey of one thousand steps, begins with one step.” That is undoubtedly true. Without that first step, and without that first Minds gig? There would be no journey. No story. No memories to look back on now."

"That is why 40 years later. Simple Minds consider January 17th,1978, to be worth celebrating. Both today, and as planned, substantially more at some point soon." - Jim, 17th January 2018

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
5th February 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
12th February 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
19th February 1978

Third Eye Center, Glasgow, UK
24th February 1978

"It was around middle of February, 1978. The venue was The Third Eye Centre, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, and we were playing our 4th Simple Minds gig. The very first happened only three weeks previously. Our average age then was 18 years old. Original Minds bassist, Tony Donald, played that night. As did rhythm guitarist Duncan Barnwell. Another original Mind, Brian McGee, was on drums. Powerful and energetic as always, I believe my hearing has never fully recovered from standing on tiny stages, too close to McGee's drums. Although still in the embryonic stage, the place was packed. An arts centre cafe/restaurant, The Third Eye probably held about 150 people, but seemingly a buzz about Simple Minds had already started in the city."

"Wearing lipstick and playing violin, Charlie Burchill looks a picture of concentration that night. Charlie built some of his instruments and was always worried that they would fall apart during gigs. They often did. Me? I'm drunk, and look like a young stag caught in the headlights."

"I think I began drinking at the soundcheck earlier that Friday afternoon. Anything really, to help me with the stage fright that I experienced for the first few years of performing. In those days I was always terrified as the hour came close to go on stage. Until I'd reminded my self that it was 'only a gig' I was taking part in, not the Battle Of El Alamein, as my grandfather had done as a member of the Eight Army when he was not that much older."

"How did I end up with no shirt? The answer is that I rarely wore shirts then. I had a theatrical looking, black coat, that buttoned up to the neck - and that was it! I had seen some of the cast of the local Citizen's Theatre wear something similar in a production of Macbeth, and thought they looked amazing. I still often wear black coats on stage. The influence of that theatre group lives on. The question is - what happened to my coat that night?"

"I do recall the spotlights being incredibly hot. So I took it off? The nausea was coming on, my head was spinning, and unfortunately I was starting to feel like throwing up. Thankfully I did not. Not that night."

"Is there anything at all of that kid - inside me now?"

"Yes there is."

"Although only starting out, he thought about his art and his band night and day. Then again, there was nothing else in his life at that moment in time? He was under real pressure though, from many who told him it was insane to be playing around with music, when at that age he should be serious about "getting a real job" and going to either Canada or Australia to make a good life."

"Well, years later, I do have a few thing going on in my life. But I go to both Canada and Australia for work often enough. And over these last weeks in particular I have thought about little else other than my art and my band. Working on it solidly. Night and day. And I do still walk around without a shirt. Whenever I'm home alone." - Jim, 17th February 2019

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
26th February 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
5th March 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
12th March 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
19th March 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
26th March 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
2nd April 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
9th April 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK
16th April 1978
At height of three-chord dole-queue punk, early Simple Minds gigs were little short of revolutionary. Band declared intention to create something "too good to be ignored". Blithely ignoring uninspiring setting of tiny L-shaped bar, crammed to gunwales, they oozed potential.

"It started with ambient collage tape, then the band took the stage in the dark, backs to the crowd. The music was a fantastic, melodic mix of the old and new waves. They played, in early and rather better forms, the songs that would eventually become their first album. Jim Kerr, in a white jacket and make-up - unheard of then - had real chrisma and the mix of darkness, drive and drama was royally exciting." Ian Cranna.

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
23rd April 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
30th April 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK
7th May 1978
An advert confirms the date of this gig.

Haldane Building, Glasgow, UK
9th May 1978
A red-eye poster still exists with this date. Tickets cost £1 and there was a late bar.

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
14th May 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK
21st May 1978
An advert confirms the date of this gig.

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
28th May 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
4th June 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
11th June 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
18th June 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
25th June 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
2nd July 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
9th July 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
16th July 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
23rd July 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK
30th July 1978
Main Set: Tonight / Take Me To The Angels / Chelsea Girl / Act Of Love / Saints And Sinners / Dead Vandals / Murder Story / White Light-White Heat / Caught In A Dream / European Son / You Better Watch Out / Wasteland / Doo-Be-Doo / Cocteau Twins/...
Johnny And The Self Abusers bootleg 7"

This was the first Simple Minds bootleg. It's the only source of recordings of Take Me To The Angels, Caught In A Dream and You Better Watch Out.

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
6th August 1978

The Bothy, Turnhouse, Edinburgh, UK
7th August 1978

Not a Simple Minds' gig, but the official party to celebrate the launch of the ZOOM/ARISTA RECORD LABEL.

Thanks to Clive for the scan.

Astoria, Abbeymount, Edinburgh, UK
10th August 1978
Supporting: Generation X
Main Set: ...Cocteau Twins ... / ... Take Me To The Angels ... / ... Sweet Things ... / ... Tonight ... / ... You Better Watch Out ... / ... Chelsea Girl ... / ... Murder Story / Pleasantly Disturbed
The gig was set up by Steve Mackie, the man behind Housewives Choice records (who later released the first single by The Cuban Heels) and was their first gig in Edinburgh.

Brian Hogg went to the gig, to see 'the other half of The Abusers.' After the show, he telephoned Bruce Findlay to rave about the show, and wrote a glowing review in the fanzine Cripes.

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
13th August 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
20th August 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
27th August 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
3rd September 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
10th September 1978

Ruffles, Aberdeen, UK
13th September 1978
Supporting: The Stranglers
The Skids were booked and advertised as the support but had to be replaced at short notice. (Stuart Adamson had broken his hand).

"We went there scared shitless, because the audience hadn't come for us; we stood there unannounced. We had to give three encores."

"I do remember that it was an excellent gig and thinking at the time that the support was great. I note you were missing the venue name, Ruffles. This was not generally a good rock venue, more of a tacky disco kind of place. But it was good for getting you near the acts. Possibly too near on this occasion as the audience took to spitting at The Stranglers (out of admiration!) and this upset Jean-Jaques who launched his bass backwards over his head and dived into the crowd to knock lumps out of one of the gobbers, before resuming the show. The venue is now long gone after various attempts to improve it followed by "fire" that finished it off." - Alistair

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
17th September 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
24th September 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
1st October 1978

Grafton Bar, Glasgow, UK
4th October 1978

Astoria, Abbeymount, Edinburgh, UK
5th October 1978
Supporting: The Only Ones
Main Set: ...White Light-White Heat
"The amazing intro tape of ticking clocks and chimes was something Mick did on his Fafisa organ he had at the time. The band came on stage and stood with their backs to the audience during the frenzied opening number driven by Mick's piano playing which segued into the next number when Jim and the rest of the band turned round to face the audience. I was standing stage right in front of Mick's piano and Duncan Barnwell was on Mick's right. Derek Forbes was on the extreme left Charlie had a flying V guitar and violin. I have always remembered the piano playing on the intro and was totally amazed to hear it again on this site after all these years! Now at the end of the gig the band had to walk off past me and came back for an encore which was pretty amazing for a support band. White Light White Heat was the encore and I remember Mick's pint fell off his piano and landed at my feet! - John Pottage

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
8th October 1978

Town Hall, Grangemouth, UK
9th October 1978
Supporting: Ultravox
The Simple Minds as they were billed, supported Ultravox. Advance tickets cost £1.40, saving 20 pence if you purchased at the door.

Bungalow Bar, Paisly, UK
13th October 1978

Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, UK
14th October 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
15th October 1978

Carneige Hall Annexe, Dunfermline, UK
21st October 1978
Main Set: ...Chelsea Girl.../...Pleasantly Disturbed

Tiffany's, Edinburgh, UK
22nd October 1978
Supporting: Ignatz

Doune Castle, Glasgow, UK
23rd October 1978
The band's fee was £25 plus a tray of filled rolls. And they were constantly asked to turn the volume down - peas were leaping off the plates of diners in the steakhouse upstairs.

Apollo, Glasgow, UK
27th October 1978
Supporting: Siouxsie And The Banshees
After this gig, they travelled to Edinburgh to open for The Pleasers.

Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, UK
27th October 1978
Supporting: The Pleasers
After the Siouxsie And The Banshees gig in the afternoon, they rushed to Edinburgh to play this gig.

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
29th October 1978

University, Glasgow, UK
November 1978
Supporting: 999

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
5th November 1978

Town Hall, Grangemouth, UK
9th November 1978
Supporting: Squeeze
Main Set: Intro (1978) / Sweet Things / Take Me To The Angels / Chelsea Girl / Someone / Murder Story / Cocteau Twins / Rosemary's Baby / Pleasantly Disturbed
The show was recorded by Howard Thompson who was the first A&R person to see the band. Many thanks to Lindsay Hutton for the set-list..

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
12th November 1978

Astoria Abbeymount, Edinburgh, UK
16th November 1978
Supporting: The Jolt
Support: The Dirty Dossers

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
19th November 1978

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
26th November 1978

Pollocks Hall, Glasgow, UK
December 1978
This was their 48th show as Simple Minds and they signed to Zoom Records after this performance.

Mars Bar, Glasgow, UK*
3rd December 1978

Robert Gordon College, Aberdeen, UK
8th December 1978

Art School, Glasgow, UK
14th December 1978

Technical College, Dundee, UK
15th December 1978
Ben Edmunds and John Leckie travelled up to Scotland to see this show.

Astoria Abbeymount, Edinburgh, UK
21st December 1978
Support: Mowgli And The Donuts

Abbots Hall, Kircaldy, UK
22nd December 1978
A Zoom press release lists this gig for the afternoon of the 23rd. However other lists suggest this date.

Abbots Hall, Kircaldy, UK
Cuinzie Neuk, Kinghorn, UK
23rd December 1978
This is how the gigs were listed on the Zoom press release and Cripes. Jim suggested that both were cancelled.

Town Hall, Grangemouth, UK
28th December 1978
Support: The Heat
Main Set: Sweet Things / Take Me To The Angels / Chelsea Girl / Someone / Murder Story / Cocteau Twins


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