Simple Minds' Jim Kerr readies St. Petersburg for concert at Mahaffey Theater

Talking with the new wave icon before the November 9 concert.

click to enlarge Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, which plays Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida on November 9, 2018. - Dean Chalkley
Dean Chalkley
Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, which plays Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida on November 9, 2018.

Forty-one years and 19 albums later, Jim Kerr called Simple Minds’ biggest U.S. hit, 1985’s “Don’t you (Forget About Me),” a “bittersweet” song.

“It’s sweet when the royalty checks come through, then we don’t give a fuck anymore,” he said, tongue in cheek and laughing all the way from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where a tour kicked off in late September.

Playing the Tampa Bay area for the first time in two decades, the seven members who make up Simple Minds are bringing songs from a new release, Walk Between Worlds, to Mahaffey Theatre on November 9. The latest collection of new songs features compositions played by only three members from 2014’s Big Music: Kerr, guitarist Charlie Burchill and bassist Ged Grimes, who joined in 2010. Along with Burchill, Kerr founded the heralded post-punk, new wave act in Glasgow, Scotland in 1977, and he said Walk Between Worlds finds the band switching from some of the acoustic elements of Big Music to more contemporary ones, plus electronica from earlier works such as 2001’s Neon Lights and 1995’s Good News from the Next World. The album ends up revisiting the sound of Simple Minds’ past, returning to new wave roots and exploring more cinematic sounds, featuring dramatic orchestrations recorded at Abbey Road.

“The sweet spot we were heading for was where we could evoke the ghosts of the past by using a few bits of equipment that we used back in the early days. I think we managed to somehow draw up that classic Simple Minds sound, but the real thing was to make it somehow sound contemporary, not just retro,” said Kerr.

“It would seem from the reviews that we’ve had and the reaction to the record we’ve managed to hit the target, or if not, pretty close,” he said, adding that audiences can expect Simple Minds try to play four to five songs from its 1982 breakout album New Gold Dreams while “not wearing the same clothes.”

“We try to put together a set that really runs the gamut, that goes back through our career; we try to give the audience a feel for the journey that the band’s been on,” Kerr said. As for the Mahaffey, Kerr hopes Simple Minds’ audiences — made up of older fans, families and even millennials — are able to see and hear “a hell of a band.”

“You want to leave feeling overjoyed. My favorite song of the night is ‘The End,’” he joked.

“You can look out at the audience for a few seconds and that’s where you get the results — the hall, the people are transformed, it sounds corny, but a feeling of oneness.”   

Simple Minds, Fri. Nov. 9, 8 p.m. $40-65. Mahaffey Theater, 400 1st. St. S., St. Petersburg.

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