It’s not long ago that I discovered my love for vinyl records and all the advantages of that medium. One of the first albums to become part of my collection was Simple Minds – Live in the City of Light, because the digital download I already owned didn’t live up to the brilliance of the album.
Live in the City of Light was recorded at Le Zenith in Paris (except one track, which was recorded in Sydney) in August 1986 during their Once Upon A Time tour. At that time the Simple Minds were at the peak of their commercial success and had already made a name for themselves as fantastic live band. The first time I became aware of the Simple Minds as a live band was, when I watched the Live Aid video. I remember myself thinking: “Oh, poor band, they put you on the video right after Queen. You have no chance, but to lose.” However, Jim Kerr and his boys impressively proved I was wrong.
But let’s get back to Live in the City of Light.
Sometimes it’s criticized that the album doesn’t deserve the labeling “live”, as there has been so much post-production and overdubbing. It’s true that the violin parts of Lisa Germano on Someone Somewhere in Summertime were overdubbed later in the studio and that former band member Derek Forbes contributed some bass-guitar overdubs. But reworking the recorded live material and adding some things in the studio is a usual process, which has been done on other live albums before and afterwards. Besides, the outcome couldn’t have been that brilliant, if the original material hadn’t already been very good.
Authentic live material or not, this Simple Minds record is a great listening experience. The sound quality is chrystal clear, whereas this is often a problem on other live records. The arrangements are harmonious and reflect that typical Simple Minds sound, the perfect balance between guitar and keyboards. But somehow they have an even wider sound range than the studio versions, which gives the songs the opportunity to unfold their full potential. Many of the songs sound more vivid and have more atmosphere than on the studio album and Jim Kerr sings even more powerful and passionate.
The choice of songs contains (at that time) brand new Once Upon A Time material as well as songs from older albums like Sparkle In The Rain, New Gold Dream and Sons and Fascination, so that Live in the City of Light could also work as a Greatest Hits album. There are definite highlights such as Waterfront, Promised You A Miracle, Don’t You and Book OF Brilliant things, but there is no song you would like to skip. You can listen to Live in the City of Light from start to finish and enjoy every song.
Live in the City of Light is a must-have for every Simple Minds fan, but also for casual listeners who are looking for a nice compilation of Simple Minds hits.