Simple pleasure

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NO matter your musical taste, you have to tip your hat to a band still going strong 30 years after it started.

Simple Minds, best known for their massive hit Don’t You Forget About Me at the start of the 80s, and who have notched up six UK number one albums and topped the billboard charts, arrive at the Opera House on Friday April 19.

It’s not quite a sell out yet, but not far short - only a few tickets remain.

And that’s hardly surprising given the success the group, founded by Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill three decades ago, has had over the years.

Here’s a fact for you. As the band prepare to kick off their 28-date national tour next month, they are looking forward to the Blackpool stop more than most - because it’s where they both went on holiday together as kids.

“Charlie and I have got brilliant memories of Blackpool. We love the place,” said Kerr, 53, lead singer of the band.

“We went every year with our families between 1969 and 1973 and I remember it like yesterday. We stayed in a big bed and breakfast on York Street and us kids used to have a whale of a time.

“The whole of Glasgow seemed to come to Blackpool for their holidays back then and it was like a giant family trip. I swear to god, the whole of our street used to go at the same time.

“I can’t tell you how much I loved it and still do. The tower, the Pleasure Beach, the piers … it is unique and such an important place in this country. I can’t wait to go back and see it.”

Simple Minds fans are in for a treat with the upcoming gig because the band are guaranteed to play all their biggest tunes. The tour has been arranged to coincide with the release of a greatest hits compilation - Celebrate, due out on March 25.

The band should be nicely warmed up by the time they arrive in Blackpool. They toured New Zealand and Australia before Christmas. They are also looking forward to playing in smaller venues, like the Opera House, rather than the usual stadiums.

“We’ve really made a point of doing that with this tour,” added Kerr.

“We are going off the beaten path, playing everywhere from Inverness to Blackpool to Ipswich. We thought instead of spending six days playing six arenas, let’s spend six weeks going everywhere. I think that demonstrates the energy and desire we have to still make and play music.”

Kerr started Simple Minds as an 18-year-old in 1977. Well, they weren’t Simple Minds originally, starting out life with the band name Johnny and the Self Abusers. Kerr - clearly going through some kind of odd teenage angst phase - referred to himself as Pripton Weird.

Commonsense prevailed after a few months, the Self Abusers became Simple Minds and the rest is history.

They have had worldwide success, played at Live Aid, and at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday party concert - held at Wembley Stadium in 2008.

The latter was 20 years after Kerr and Simple Minds played at a Wembley concert on Mandela’s 70th birthday, demanding his release from prison. Kerr, who has married and divorced Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde and Patsy Kensit (who left him for Liam Gallagher), lives in Sicily, where, when he’s not making music, he runs a hotel. That, though, is not his first love.

“My whole life has been about making music,” he said. “That’s what I do best and it’s what I still love doing. I can’t really see a time when I don’t do it and this greatest hits tour is going to be fantastic.

“I can guarantee the people who come to Blackpool, or to any gig, will see a band giving it 100 per cent and putting on the best show possible.”

Tickets are available from the Opera House box office on 0844 856 1111.