“Hello, Los Angeles…“, the opening line is spoken by Jim Kerr as he and Simple Minds strike up before the immense LA crowd, and as much as I don’t often find live albums the most appealing of recordings, I have to say that this is where I came in, Live In The City Of Light being one of my earlier “live album” experiences, along with Under A Blood Red Sky, U2‘s seminal live album from 1983; these were the greatest hits albums that my funds would allow back in the day, before these rock bands released their Greatest Hits proper. That’s not to say I hadn’t already experienced or bought earlier LPs, but these would bring everything into focus and let you listen to the best bits without trawling through several albums – well CD was a long way off and cassettes had the annoying habit of getting chewed up – if you were to attempt to seek out particular tracks, over and over.
This release came as a result of 2018’s Walk Between Worlds, which followed the band’s huge renaissance, and built upon their reputation as one of the world’s greatest live bands (well after 40 years treading the proverbial boards, this might come as no surprise). 32 years on from their original foray into the live album experience, Simple Minds had this time travelled North America to bring us this release. Playing coast-to-coast and taking in 31 cities, they performed to crowds that showed just how highly they are considered, still.
Put the cans on, or if the neighbours are a kindly bunch, dust off the Hi-Fi and let it rip! This album contains a worthy party playlist if, like me, your college experiences were led through Breakfast Club days and let’s be honest further on. Kicking off with The Signal & The Noise, this relatively new number is but a mere speckle amongst some of these tracks, although all are met with the same warmth from their audience.
The album is split into two forms, the first of these the standard released double CD and LP, and the more informative 4xCD set and Digital download, containing a further 15 songs. With the musicianship and recording, I would say it’s certainly worth investing the extra wedge, or if like me you are a completist, shell out on both the standard and deluxe forms in whatever form you choose (vinyl and deluxe CD, but you didn’t hear that from me).
A release that spans 4 decades really has to be something special to give to these artists a fair crack at the whip, And this does, in spades! A standard edition with many of the favourites available and a deluxe edition that hoovers up many of the rest, whilst giving the later period of their career a spotlight (although on the first form I would have to ask, where is ‘Chelsea Girl‘)? I have said just how impressed I was with the recording of this album, not only in that the soundstage is somewhere between a studio recording, whilst possessing the impact of a live appearance. From a tour that spanned the locations it did, this has been assembled extremely well and rather than each track following into another as it might if you were to see the band “live”, has been engineered, almost seamlessly to avoid those unnecessary lengthy moments.
Everybody will be able to find something that is of appeal here, with those songs hailing from Jim’s wedge haircut days (well we all thought it looked good back then!), through their cardigan days and rock out moments. So 32 years on from In The City Of Light, the question has to be, is this worth the journey? And the answer has to come, “most certainly.” This is as close to perfection as perfection gets, those intervening years have seen an artist grow and their audience follow them.