Simple Minds’ tribute to iconic Barrowlands venue with new single
THEY helped bring back the Barrowland as a gigging hotspot – now Simple Minds have paid tribute to the legendary venue on their new album.
The group’s latest record, Walk Between Worlds, is out tomorrow and includes the track Barrowland Star.
It’s inspired by memories of the band playing there when younger, as well as the history of the ballroom.
“Obviously our parents knew the Barrowland, and then we knew it was closed and did the video for Waterfront there before playing it when we reopened,” explains guitarist Charlie Burchill.
“Now you can say it’s world famous, because every artist knows of it – we’ll speak to other people from across the world and they all know about the Barrowland. Jim pointed out to me that that the Barrowland is related to our formative years in Glasgow, where it helped give us direction musically.
“It has this mythical quality and Jim wanted to express those feelings in a song, looking at us as a young band, just trying to get onstage and play our dreams.”
The band will be bringing Walk Between Worlds there on February 13 for an emotional homecoming gig. Although Charlie and frontman Jim Kerr have played massive shows all over the world, the guitarist admits there is nothing like a Barras show.
“We’re playing nice places like the Roundhouse in London on this tour, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the potency of the Barrowland,” he says.
“It’s not just because it’s a hometown gig, it’s the place itself – it’s a living, breathing character.”
The band kept their Glasgow connections too, recording the album at the Gorbals Sound studio. However Charlie has rediscovered Glasgow in another way.
“I’ve spent a lot of time back there the last few years,” he says.
“My girlfriend is Dutch, but it’s one of her favourite cities to visit. I see it through her eyes now, so it’s like stepping outside and looking at it all differently.”
The Barrowlands return show will see a mixture of old hits and the new record played in full, along with an onstage interview with the band about the album. Clocking in at lean and mean eight tracks, their 17th album combines reflective lyrics with the soaring, epic sound that marked their 1980s peak.
Kick-starting the album is Magic, which looks back to the band’s early years. However for all that Simple Minds had plenty of onstage swagger, Charlie reckons it took years before they felt he and Jim felt they were there to stay.
“In the early days, when you start a band, you have hope but you never 100% believe that you’ll make it, so we just dug away,” he says.
“We were just fortunate enough in those days that record companies would stick with you longer and you had time to develop.
“Then New Gold Dream came along (in 1982) and that was a turning point, because the songwriting had grown, we had a coherent sound and it was a very focused album. That’s when we thought to ourselves ‘we ‘ve not been wasting our time’.”
Despite a host of line-up changes over the years (including the recent departure of long time drummer Mel Gaynor) the band’s core has remained Jim and Charlie, and the guitarist argues that the pair are still the same as always with each other.
“It’s funny, Jim and I have known each other for about 50 years now, and nothing has really changed for us,” adds Charlie.
“There’s a natural relationship there, because we’re very different characters that fit together. Jim’s up very early, I’m always up late, I was always talking to everyone at parties, Jim’s very quiet, but we’re always on the same page.
“Jim points out all the time that we’re like a marriage, except I’ve not taken his house away from him yet…”
Simple Minds are signing copies of the new album at HMV on Argyle Street tomorrow, then Barrowland, February 13, sold out.