Review by Ivor Whitten for MPM
On an absolutely gorgeous sunny evening the crowds gathered early in Custom House Square for a special evening of entertainment and music.
From 6pm onwards there was a DJ blasting out hits to keep the audience entertained until the time arrived for the live music. Tonight, at the Custom House Square festival, none other than Eighties New Wave hit masters Simple Minds were going to be giving it all, along with support from Belfast’s own eighties New Wave group Silent Running
Coming on at 8pm were Peter Gamble, Tony Scott, Richard Collett, Paul Rocks and Gary Kirby to a massive applause from the almost packed outdoor area.
And with a simple “Good evening, Custom house” from Peter the crowd erupted and they went straight into their set.
Blasting out great rocking songs that almost felt as if they had taken their more syth pop of the Eighties and ramped up to rock out they delivered a fantastic performance as they used every piece of the stage they could.
People of all ages were fully in the mood as they produced old and new songs like “Beyond Your Wildest Dreams”, “Live Right Now”, “Lost Boy” and “Sunshine in the Rain”
Peter and the group were absolutely tight producing an incredible set with a vigour and vibrancy that rallied the crowd right behind them. Especially when there was a bit of time for some quick banter and Peter spoke to the crowd like a true Belfast son .
They also noted that they also had the privilege of supporting Simple Minds in 1984 and they were delighted to do so again in front of a home audience. They were without a doubt a great tightly knit band that more than produced the goods to heighten the mood of everyone there.
After a stage change on came Simple Minds. And the place went nuts. It was very clear that many attending the concert were long time fans and were delighted at the chance to see the band they love.
With a “Hello Belfast” from Jim Kerr, the Scottish songster led the band straight into “Act of Love” before continuing on with “Love Song”, “Glittering Prize” and “Promised You a Miracle”. With each and every song the crowd was full of pure joy. Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Ged Grimes, Sarah Brown, Gordy Goudie and Cherisse Osei seemed to have gelled together in the musicality of it all and produced such an incredible rock sound that the whole Square rode on a wave of delight and nostalgia.
Then came “Waterfront” before the incredible voice of Sarah Brown joined the stage for “Book of Brilliant Things” and continued to provide a counterpoint and support for Jim. Needless to say Jim at the forefront made sure everyone was getting what they paid for, and superb performance of music and entertainment. He lithely strut, ran, slide and bent backwards on the stage with the energy and suppleness of an 18 year old. It was truly incredible to witness.
On they went with “Let there be Love”, “Mandela Day”, “Vision Thing” and the absolutely wonderful “Belfast Child” with the “Theme for Great Cities” thrown in. The crowd were simply in an ecstasy totally invested in every sound, and movement that came from the stage. The Drum solo from Cherisse Osei showed her pure delight at being on stage as she deftly showed how skilled she was using two sticks.
It is no wonder this band is not only still around but continuing to tour as they produce a live show that needs to be seen.
There continue to be adoring shouts from the audience to Jim as he playfully chats every so often jokingly saying that over the past two years the band had a great time living off the ticket sales for shows that had been postponed but that it was an honour and a pleasure to finally be back in Belfast. The crowd hung on his every word.
Finishing up the show with “Someone Somewhere in Summertime”, “See the Lights”, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, and “Alive and Kicking” they delighted, enthralled and entertained the audience like no other.
If you get the chance to see Simple Minds or Silent Running you are guaranteed to be in for a show of full on entertaining light rock music with just a hint of their syth pop days. It was a perfect blend of musical joy on a delightful evening of wonderful nostalgia mixed with modernity.
There are still some great shows on at the Custom House Square Festival and you can find out more at https://www.customhousesquare.com/
Photography by MPM