Simple Minds; Devo
Tuesday, December 4
Review: Simon Collins
The double-header A Day on the Green concert at Kings Park on Tuesday night provided a portal back to the 80s, albeit for two very different offshoots of the new wave movement.
Headliners Simple Minds delivered Celt-rock polished for stadiums while Devo offered a more subversive brand of spiky post-punk.
The pair, on the road for nine dates around Australia, had one thing in common — their music was intrinsically linked with cult films from the era.
Simple Minds’ biggest hit, Don’t You (Forget About Me), featured in John Hughes’ brat-pack favourite The Breakfast Club, while Devo main men Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale created the music for the second Revenge of the Nerds film.
Both movies were about dysfunctional teens trying to find their place in the world (and score with chicks and not get smashed by the jocks).
After Sean Kelly’s the Models opened the event at 5pm, fellow Australian perennials the Church delivered an expansive set, light on hits but big on cool guitar rhythms.
Dressed in trademark boiler suits, Devo began their set with songs from their 2010 comeback album Something for Everybody — the Akron, Ohio band’s first studio release in 20 years. They then swung into hits Girl U Want and Whip It, as well as edgy early material, such as Mongoloid and Jocko Homo, all accompanied by oddball (and often sexually implicit) material on the big screen.
After fan favourite Gates of Steel closed the main section, the Devo Corporate Anthem saw the diehards wearing energy domes for an encore featuring a rocked-up Freedom of Choice and Beautiful World, with man-baby Booji Boy (Mothersbaugh in costume) bringing the deviant performance to a fittingly bizarre finale.
Scotland’s Simple Minds, led by founding members, singer Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill, were a far more predictable affair.
Sticking with songs from their 80s heyday, the group wove through the big singles — Waterfront, Love Song, All the Things She Said and Sanctify Yourself — until they got to THAT song.
Kerr let the audience belt out the vocal intro to Don’t You (Forget About Me). Maybe it worked at Wembley Stadium but dangling a microphone metres from the front rows rarely captures anything worth pumping through the speakers.
Kerr did it a few more times during an otherwise superlative encore starring other big numbers, Promised You a Miracle and Alive and Kicking, before an extended version of Ghostdancing that segued into Van Morrison’s Gloria to end the night.
Carrying a reputation as a killer live act, Simple Minds were eclipsed on the night by Devo. As in all good 80s teen comedies, the nerds beat the jocks.