Lorraine Wilson

It’s almost impossible to slide an Access All Areas pass between Simple Minds and live performance, so closely are they linked. The band were even responsible for giving us Scotland’s greatest concert venue, when they filmed a music video for Waterfront at Barrowlands in 1983, reopening the ballroom that had been mothballed for more than a decade.

A new live album, Simple Minds Live in the City of Angels, is a record of the band at the end of the US tour and is something of an appetiser for a 2020 world tour celebrating 40 years, which starts an extensive European leg at the end of February, with 38 shows across 12 countries, culminating in a hometown gig at the SSE Hydro on April 25.

“Today some people might say what's the need of a live album?,” says Jim Kerr. “There's so much live stuff out there and people can access it easily on YouTube. As a fan of music, I came up through the period where great live albums were released, and I've always been a fan of them. Where live albums differ is that they feel like a living, breathing thing.

“Also, we are proudly old school and we feel we can justify the live album. Simple Minds is a band that’s constantly evolving and every three to four years we try and capture what we're doing live. The live experience is the mainstay of Simple Minds and always has been.”

The live album was recorded during the final weeks of the tour, with all but one track taken from the gig at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles (Glittering Prize is from The Fillmore in Miami Beach). There is also a deluxe version of the CD, which includes tracks recorded at soundchecks and rehearsals.

Simple Minds hadn’t toured in the US for many years before that and Jim says that the band were testing the waters there again. “It had been such a long time that we weren’t sure how we would go down. In the end we weren't just relieved, we were absolutely delighted at how it all was received. The tour was all about sold out and people going nuts.

“So coming up to the last week of the tour we thought to ourselves, ‘there's magic in the air here’. It takes a lot for us to say that because with every day and every gig there's always something different and memorable. This just took us by so much of a surprise we thought right, let's get this recorded. What helped too is by that point in the tour the band is really cooking.”

The world tour is billed as celebrating the 40th year, as is the career-spanning album 40: The Best Of – 1979-2019, to be released on November 1, but Jim says the band is actually a couple of year into its fifth decade now. Looking back to the earliest days it seems unfathomable that they would still be packing up and heading out.

“At that point, if you had asked what we wanted to do with our lives, we wouldn't have talked about fame and money. We wanted to be a great live band – and for me there was always an ambition to take it all around the world. Now we’ve had the chance to do that and we still are. We want to make the most of now – and what's coming over the hill.”

As teenagers, the young Kerr and Charlie Burchill couldn’t have envisaged recording and touring into their sixties. In 1979, The Beatles had only split for nine years, The Stones hadn’t clocked up the decades and there wasn’t the legacy of bands being around for 40 years.

“At that time it was really only the old Blues guys that had been around for that length of time. They wouldn’t have been making records or selling records, so people questioned why they still went out and played live. You only had to look at their faces to see that this was their lives.

“And we accept that this has been our lives. It's what we have always done, through good, through bad, in fashion, out of fashion. In years of feast and famine. And why not?”

Simple Minds can also put their longevity down to a truly global reach, being able to play throughout Europe, all the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.

“How lucky have we been eh? Even before the band started, I had the travelling bug anyway. When I was 16 my friend in London wrote me a letter and said, you have to come down and see what’s happening here – it’s something called punk. It was around the Glasgow Fair and Charlie and I had managed to save some money, but not enough money to take the train. So we stuck out our thumbs and hitchhiked to London to see what turned out to be the Sex Pistols.

“We had caught our last lift into London and the guy said he was heading off to Paris on the Sunday. Did we fancy it? So we headed off to a post office – in those days you could go in and get a temporary passport – and headed to Paris. We ended up hitchhiking our way around Europe. The seeds of the band were there and we thought ‘wouldn't it be great to play in all of these places?’.

Kerr and Burchill met at the age of eight when Jim moved to Toryglen from the Gorbals and the pals are still together, being joined by various new members along the way.

“The line-up has changed over the years, but we’ve had Ged Grimes with us on bass for 10 years now. It’s weird to think of a time when he wasn’t there. He’s also like me and Charlie, relishing every destination he plays in and never takes it for granted.”

Ged Grimes has also been known to cycle between some gigs and to whip up some impressive gastronomy in the limited surroundings of the galley kitchen on the band’s tour bus.

“Ged is a shining light when it comes to fitness. I just don't think his light shines brightly enough on the rest of us! He definitely makes you want to up your game though.”

Jim turned 60 earlier this year and Charlie gets there next month but age is no barrier when it comes to performance.

“Someone was telling me about Burt Bacharach playing Kelvingrove Bandstand in the summer – and he's 91! Everyone says the same thing – as soon as you hit the stage the years seem to fall away. Being honest, it's not the playing that makes you tired it's all the other stuff – the travelling, the promotion, the soundchecks. When you're on stage you energised, you've got all the adrenalin that you need.

It might sound like clichés, but sometimes they’re clichés because they're true. The hanging about can be more tiring, but you can’t exactly be really rock’n’roll either. You definitely have to pace it.”

For many bands the level of energy wouldn’t be too much of an issue but the Simple Minds live experience is known for being pretty high-octane with Jim still managing many of the gymnastics that have been part of his signature performance style.

“Energy is a massive part of what we offer live, so if we weren't firing on all cylinders, people will be disappointed.

“My dad used to say to me ‘You're like a priest. You only work one hour a day. I tried to explain to him about everything else that was involved, but he wasn’t having it. I’ll never complain though – the reward is evident.”

Simple Minds Live – In the City of Angels is out now. In addition, a career-spanning compilation 40: The Best Of – 1979-2019 is released on November 1.

Tickets for next year’s 40 Years of Hits tour are now on sale from wwwsimpleminds.com