Atlanta Music Scene

Melissa Ruggieri covers the Atlanta’s vibrant and evolving music scene. From hot new artists to Music Midtown to shows at the Tabernacle, she’s got you covered.

Simple Minds hope you don’t forget about them

The Jim Kerr-led band will visit Atlanta for the first time since the ‘90s


That staccato “Hey, hey, hey, hey” is all you need to hear to beat Shazam and identify Simple Minds’ eternal hit, “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”

The 1985 smash from the soundtrack of “The Breakfast Club” topped the charts worldwide in its heyday, and these days has enchanted a new demographic – since 2010, the video for the song has racked up more than 110 million views.

Jim Kerr, the distinctive voice and frontman on the Scottish band, is joined by guitarist Charlie Burchill in the Original Member club. But the other band members (Ged Grimes, bass; Sarah Brown, vocals; Gordy Goudie, guitar; Catherine AD, keyboards) have been part of the Simple Minds landscape for several years, leaving drummer Cherisse Osei, whom Kerr calls “the star of the piece” as the newbie.

Though Simple Minds is instantly identified by that MTV-era smash, they visited the U.S. charts with a trifecta of other soul-rock hits, “Alive and Kicking,” “Sanctify Yourself” and “All The Things She Said She Said.”

They’ll spotlight those favorites, as well as songs from their 18th studio album, “Walk Between Worlds,” released earlier this year, when they visit the Tabernacle on Monday – their first Atlanta visit in decades.

Kerr, a gracious and friendly chap, called in recently from London to talk about the lingering thrill of playing in America, touring Europe with ex-wife Chrissie Hynde and why he’s a “lucky so and so.”

Q: By my research, it appears you haven’t played Atlanta since at least 1995. Is that possible?

A: It’s both possible and true and embarrassing and exciting all in one. Embarrassing because how could that be the case? But it is the case. It’s exciting because we’re going to get the chance. We better make sure we’re up to the wait. I’ll stick my neck out here and say that we are!

Q: Do you remember what it was like when you first played America after finally breaking through – and doing it in a very big way?

A: It was always out of kilter. That goes back to the fact that the (first) four records weren’t released in America, so it was always about catching up. Before “The Breakfast Club” and all that, the college kids were tuning in and it was pretty good - as much as we could expect given that we weren’t getting mainstream radio play. Once that combination of “The Breakfast Club” and MTV happened, the song not only took us through the door, it smashed the door off the hinges, which kinda freaked us all out. It wasn’t meant to happen that way. We felt we’d snuck in hoping for a lift but weren’t expecting this transportation. I’m not complaining about it, but it was a little outside of our doing. But they say never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Q: Do you still get excited about playing here?

A: A week ago today I went to the embassy to get a working visa and you get the stamp and the passport and the first time that happened in 1979, I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see it. I have to say, it’s still a thrill seeing that stamp going in there. As much as we’re Scots and Europeans and all that, we were brought up with so much American culture. You invented rock ‘n’ roll. You still want to test yourself there and I still want to see all of those landscapes that I didn’t know if Simple Minds would see again. We’re doing a lot of bus travel (on the tour) which I prefer, especially in America. It’s still exotic to us. I want to feel the place. 
 Q: You’re doing two sets in the show. Will we hear the hits as well as new material?

A: The fact that we haven’t been there in so long, we feel we owe our hardcore fans a few more songs than usual. We’re not going bore everyone to death. We’ll do the theatrical thing with an intermission – we’ve got 22-23 songs and will split them up with a nice 20-minute break to freshen their ears.

Q: You recently toured Europe with The Pretenders. What was it like being out there with Chrissie Hynde (Kerr and Hynde were married from 1984-1990)? I take it you guys have remained friends over the years since you have a daughter (Yasmin) together?

A: And grandchildren! It’s quite a talking point because it’s not often ex’s go to work. Obviously we still have a great rapport. There was never really weirdness; it was more of a diminishing thing at the time. Last week we were backstage and I was really near the stage and you could hear every word and of course it sounded great and the band sounded great. It doesn’t cross my mind for a minute that that’s my ex. She’s amazing. I could appreciate it as fan. She’s still badass. 

Q: What did you want to accomplish with these new songs (on “Walk Between Worlds”)? 

A: We wanted to do a thing where you want to make it classic, but also make it contemporary. But that’s contradictory. The classic by definition is back then and we’re not as we were back then. Technology is not back then. You can’t go back but maybe you can conjure the ghosts, so if you can, radiate that stuff but also have the energy of the moment. The reaction we’re gotten to the record seems to say that we hit the target. 

Q: Do you tire of playing “Don't You (Forget About Me”)?

A: It’s all got to do with the overriding attitude. If you have the attitude that first of all enables you to remember that you’re a lucky so and so that anyone wants to come to see you, you’ve got to be of service. We’re out there to deliver, to tick so many boxes, to make people happy. It sounds so trite, but people say what’s your favorite moment of the night and I say the end because you look out and people are jumping up and down and they’re happy and in some people’s cases they’ve been waiting years to see us. Imagine if we turned up with some half-assed attitude about playing those songs? As soon as an audience is front of you, you never feel that way. It might be the only time they hear that song live.


 CONCERT PREVIEW

Simple Minds

8 p.m. Oct. 8. $35.50-$59.50. Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St., Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000, livenation.com.

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About the Author

Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers the Atlanta Music Scene and entertainment news for print and online.