Perhaps it is something in singer Jim Kerr’s Scottish psyche, but as the heavens open on Millennium Square on a Saturday night, it is hard not to notice just how many times his lyrics refer to rain.
Even the 59-year-old makes a joke of it at one point, noting how he and the rest of the band – in which he and guitarist and musical director Charlie Burchill are the sole surviving original members – had been reading about hosepipe bans in the UK while they were touring Europe for the last three months. As soon as they returned to Britain, the heatwave ended.
“If you need water for your garden just come and see us,” he quips.
Despite a drenching for the audience, Simple Minds sparkle in the rain.
Their hour-and-a-half long set is cleverly constructed, offering enough for fans of their first five albums, when their music was a denser mixture of post-punk and Mitteleuropean influences, as well as a few of their grander gestures to please those who appreciated them in their stadium-rock years.
Amid all this, songs from their latest record Walk Between Worlds seem to fit nicely, with the likes of The Signal and The Noise, which opens the set, and the album’s title track sounding wide-eyed and tuneful while avoiding the bombast that afflicted the likes of 90s missteps such as Real Life and Good News From The Next World.
Kerr, dressed simply in a blue-check shirt and black jeans, is a genial, animated frontman, urging the audience to wave their hands from the off. Including propulsive versions of Waterfront and Love Song early on quickly helps to get the crowd onside.
If Promised You A Miracle, featuring fellow Scot KT Tunstall, whose earlier support set of post-Millennium hits and covers such as Boys of Summer and I Won’t Back Down had been well received, fails to shimmer in a more rootsy form than Simple Minds’ majestic 1982 original, it’s swiftly followed by one of their stone-cold classics, The American, and Hunter and The Hunted, from arguably their finest longer player, New Gold Dream.
She’s A River is jolly and bouncy, Someone Somewhere In Summertime offers opportunity for a hearty singalong and new song Summer again reminds us of the elements with references to rain and lightning. “I like the way it shoots,” Kerr sings forcefully.
Backing singer Sarah Brown is given the chance to shine in an energised All The Things She Said, while Dolphins arrives in a swirl of atmospheric synths before opening up into an epic ballad.
By now Kerr has changed into a white shirt and jacket, which he waves above his head as the consistently impressive drummer Cherisse Osei thunders away at her kit during Don’t You (Forget About Me).
They encore with the jaunty Let The Day Begin, Alive and Kicking and Sanctify Yourself and exit tossing drumsticks and plectrums into the front row.
Forty years on from the band’s formation, Simple Minds remain a force to be reckoned with.