IN a behind-the-scenes video shot before Simple Minds’ epic gig at the OVO Hydro in April last year, Jim Kerr was interviewed by the band's drummer, Cherisse Osei. “What does it mean to play Glasgow for you?”, she asks.

“Just driving in there … the areas, the streets”, Kerr replies. “I haven’t actually been here for two years because of Covid. I haven’t been home in that sense, so it’s even more emotional.

“Wherever we are in the world, and no matter what size of venue we’re playing, we want to give our very best – but with Glasgow, even more … Glasgow literally made Simple Minds. It’s very special”.

Indeed it is. Simple Minds have now announced a global tour for next year,with support from Del Amitri. It starts in New Zealand in January before heading to Australia then, in mid-March, Europe. There are, of course, gigs at the OVO Hydro – two of them, in late March. The Hydro was where the band recorded a live DVD in November 2013 as part of the Celebrate Greatest Hits+ Tour.

The new venture comes not long after the end of the 40 Years of Hits tour which, thanks to the Covid lockdown, ended up spanning the two years to 2022. The reason for such a quick follow-up is simple, really.

“There’s a demand [for Simple Minds]”, Kerr says, “the invites to play and go around the world. Last time, we didn’t get the chance to go to America, we didn’t get the chance to go to Asia. We didn’t get the chance to go to South America. All of that is going to happen this time”. The success of the last tour also played a part, he adds.

Glasgow Times: Simple Minds on stage in HamburgSimple Minds on stage in Hamburg (Image: Thorsten Samesch/ Courtesy Simple Minds)I mention some of the times I’ve enjoyed the band in concert, most recently at Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens in August 2022. “It’s nice of you to appreciate the effort that goes in [to the live shows] but there’s a tremendous amount at stake for us with every single gig”, he says. “It seems a ridiculous thing to say when we’re about to go on the biggest tour we’ve ever done, that it has to happen every single night. 

“You can’t have a so-so night and then an okay night and then a great night, because there’s just so much at stake. First and foremost there’s people coming along who’ve invested so much of their time and money. 

“But our reputations are at stake. And that’s all we have, really. And so that effort that you sense, it comes from somewhere deep; it comes from this sense of, ‘we can’t let the side down’.” 

Glasgow Times: Jim Kerr, singer with the group Simple Minds, performing at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert, Wembley Stadium, London, June 11, 1988Jim Kerr, singer with the group Simple Minds, performing at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert, Wembley Stadium, London, June 11, 1988 (Image: Brendan Monks/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)The band has come a long, long way since its very first gig, at Satellite City, above the Glasgow Apollo, as part of a bill supporting Steel Pulse, on January 17, 1978.

Billy Sloan, the journalist and broadcaster who did so much to promote the band, remembers Kerr that night, wearing a black priest’s frock coat, tight jeans, winklepicker boots and a severe pudding-bowl haircut. The effect was unsettling, to say the least. Audiences at other early Simple Minds shows – at the Third Eye Centre, the Doune Castle, the Mars Bar on Howard Street – were equally struck.

In a sense, the Eighties belonged to Simple Minds. Their early art-rock albums - Life in a Day, Real to Real Cacophony, Empires & Dance, Sons & Fascination/Sister Feelings Call - gave way, in September 1982, to New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). Enhanced by such classic songs as Promised You a Miracle, Glittering Prize, and Someone Somewhere in Summertime, it reached number 3 in the UK album chart and sold well across Europe.

New Gold Dream still sounds fresh after 40 years. “That really is the mysterious thing”, says Kerr. “You make a record and you hope it’s a record of its time, and then the times move on. There is a period where you maybe grow distant from it, or it’s lost in the mists of time. Where the mystery comes in is that years later, somehow the sounds and the songs find a new life or relevance and they find a new audience.

“How that happens, I don’t know. But it happens all the time - in fashion, in architecture, in films”.

READ NEXT: Simple Minds stars donate to Glasgow secondary school fundraiser

Glasgow Times: Jim Kerr, in action at the SECC on February 27, 1986Jim Kerr, in action at the SECC on February 27, 1986 (Image: Newsquest)The album, incidentally, was the subject of a special gig at Paisley Abbey, recorded last October for a Sky Arts series. Speaking in a promotional video, Kerr said: “When it came to choosing a venue to perform New Gold Dream, we wanted to do it somewhere locally.

"And obviously the band being from Glasgow, it had to be somewhere nearby but it also had to be somewhere that had some grandeur and something that was out of the norm, because it is a special album for us. And so Paisley Abbey, knowing its history and knowing the look of the place, we thought this would be something special.”

READ NEXT: Jim Kerr was thrown in butcher's fridge by Rangers fans

The album, New Gold Dream, was followed by the epic, euphoric, textured Sparkle in the Rain (February 1984), which boasted such classics-to-be as Waterfront (with its driving, irresistible pulse), Up On The Catwalk, and Speed Your Love to Me, and topped the album charts in twenty countries.

It in turn was followed by Once Upon a Time (October 1985), whose highlights included Alive and Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, All The Things She Said, and Ghost Dancing. Despite the absence of the hugely popular single, Don't You (Forget About Me) - it had been written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff, and featured prominently in John Hughes's 1985 film, The Breakfast Club - the album reached the top 10 in the States, and reached number 1 in the UK charts.

Street Fighting Years (May 1989) included the superb Belfast Child, and Mandela Day. Truly, the Eighties belonged to Simple Minds.

The band - Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill are the only surviving founder members - continue to release a series of well-received albums. Their 18th studio album, Direction of the Heart, was released in October last year and reached number four in the UK charts and went Top 10 in multiple territories. Mojo magazine, in its review, described the band’s energy as ‘undiminished’. In all, Simple Minds have sold some 60 million albums worldwide. In concert and on record, they remain as vital as ever.

READ NEXT: Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr regrets not investing in Greggs

“Somebody recently showed me the first-ever interview we did, on the day of our first-ever gig”, Kerr says. “Don’t ask me where I got the gall to say this, but the question was kind of, ‘so what is it you want out of this? Why be in a band? What is it you’re looking for – riches and fame?’ 

“And I said, ‘there’s three things. We want to be in a great live band’. It’s kind of interesting that I said ‘great’ …; ‘we want to take it around the world; and we want to get a life out of doing that’. 

“And here we are, lo and behold, all these years later, still getting to wrestle with that challenge. We’ve certainly had a life out of it, that’s for sure. And that’s it - that’s who we are, and we still wrestle with that challenge.”

* The band plays the OVO Hydro on March 29 and 30, 2024. The new album, ‘New Gold Dream – Live from Paisley Abbey’, will be released on  October 27.