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BLURT, BARP, ALIVE AND KICKING: DEVO AND SIMPLE MINDS IN WIND BACK WEDNESDAY



With Devo leaving the country (apparently for the last time) next week and Simple Minds this week announcing a return in 2024 (no claims yet of endings), Wind Back Wednesday lands somewhere in the middle.


Not so much with an opinion – see below – but with an unlikely double act in 2012 as the Americans and the Scots combined for a series of shows. Golden times in golden years? Hell, they were practically striplings back then. Like their audience who were of course not old at all. Not us. No way.


By the way, Simple Minds will be touring with Icehouse next year. The two bands have released a single together, T-Rex’s Get It On. It’s not terrible at all. It is though wholly inconsequential.

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SIMPLE MINDS and DEVO

Entertainment Centre, December 7, 2012


IF THIS WAS MEANT to be comfortable nostalgia so 40somethings, who once sneered at their parents going to retro concerts, could confirm without working too hard that the “best” music was released during their youth, then someone forgot to tell Devo.


They began the night with the relatively new, whirring electronic snarl of Don’t Shoot, followed it with the militaristic march of Peek-A-Boo and then hit us with the relentless electronica of What We Do. It was 20 minutes until Girl U Want sent out its “aroma of undefined love" and (by which time they’d changed from silver tracksuits to yellow boiler suits) Uncontrollable Urge and Mongoloid spun on an axis of spikes.



By this point we were under no illusion that the electro punks, albeit greyed and thickened and, scarily, in shorts, were in any way soft. They leapt, danced, fell, jerked and ripped. They blurted, barped, squeaked and squawked. Sure some minds were boggled but plenty of others went into mini frenzies of pleasure because Devo put on a show without pandering and were as good as I remembered them from the Hordern 30 years ago.


When Simple Minds came on with the big, ringing sound of Waterfront and later with the classic ‘80s gospel-meets-rock bombast of Sanctify and Alive And Kicking, you might have wondered how this concert’s pairing could have made sense. Even more so when the crowd-pleasing/crowd drawing Don’t You Forget About Me gave us grand gesture over an empty shell (and obligatory microphone pointed to the singing crowd business).



But before they were big, in sound as much as fame, Simple Minds were driven by electronics, by a kind of alienation and by punk. We caught glimpses of it in rhythmic pulse of Love Song, The American and In Trance, and we saw the transition to the mega band they became in the songs from the glistening New Gold Dream album, the title track and Promised You A Miracle in particular.


The audience loved it, and didn’t mind that Jim Kerr’s voice sometimes didn’t travel very well, but for me there was too much of the boom and bluster and not enough of the subtlety and groove which once defined them. Interestingly, Europe got the 5 x 5 concerts of material from their first five albums; we got the hits. It makes sense but Devo had that choice too and they went for more risk for reward.



Devo play:

QPAC, Brisbane today

Palais Theatre, Melbourne, December 6


Simple Minds and Icehouse play:

Mornington Racecourse, February 10

Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley, February 11

Sandstone Point, Bribie Island, February 17

Kings Park, Perth, February 21


Simple Minds play:

Sydney Opera House, February 8 (6.30 and 9.30pm)

Palais Theatre, Melbourne, February 13

Adelaide Entertainment Centre, February 14

The Star, Gold Coast, February 18


Icehouse play:

Sydney Opera Hose, December 12

Festivale, Launceston, February 2


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