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From jeers to cheers, Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr remembers first Aberdeen gig in 1978

simple minds aberdeen
Simple Minds founding members Charlie Burchill and Jim Kerr. Photo by Dean Chalkley

Unknown late replacements for Scotland’s hottest band, no soundcheck, an injured keyboard player and booed onto the stage… Simple Minds legend Jim Kerr has vivid memories of the band’s first concert in Aberdeen in 1978.

The hostile reception is far removed from the warm welcome chart-toppers Simple Minds will receive when headlining P&J Live on Tuesday, April 5.

However, 44 years ago it was very different when Jim received an afternoon call asking if they could replace  Skids that night in the Granite City.

There followed a frantic race north from Glasgow to take to the stage only to be greeted by jeers from a crowd expecting Skids.

Jim relished the challenge of winning over the hostile audience.

By the end of the show, Simple Minds’ had not only stopped the boos but the crowd were cheering for an encore.

Legendary Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr has vivid memories of his first Aberdeen gig. Photo by Dean Chalkley

Frantic rush north to Aberdeen

Jim said: “Our first Aberdeen gig is one that I will always remember.

“At about three in the afternoon, I received a call at my ma’s house from the promoter.

“I had given him a demo tape and he said if something came up he’d give me a shout.

“He called to ask if we could get up to Aberdeen that day to open for The Stranglers, who we loved.

“He said the guitarist in the support band injured his hand and they pulled out.

“You’ll be going on at quarter to eight’, he said.

“This was three o’clock.

“I was that excited I said ‘sure, no problem. We’ll be there’.

“I never took the time to think that the whole audience will be going mad waiting for Skids.

“They were Scotland’s top band and had just been on Top of the Pops a few days earlier.”

Chart-toppers Simple Minds will headline P&J LIve. Photo by Dean Chalkley Date; Unknown

‘The boos rang out. The abuse we got’

After rushing north to the Granite City Simple Minds arrived at the packed Robert Gordon Institute of Technology venue.

Such was the tight time frame there was no opportunity to soundcheck and the venue was already full of fans waiting for Skids.

Chaos erupted when the MC announced an unknown band from Glasgow were playing instead of the Top of the Pops stars.

Simple Minds founding members Charlie Burchill (l) and Jim Kerr. Photo by Paul Cox

Jim, 62, said: “When we got to Aberdeen there was no soundcheck and our keyboard player at the time also had an injury.

“He fell off his motorbike and was using crutches.

“On top of that, no one had heard of us as we had released a record.

“The venue was packed with everyone shouting ‘Skids, Skids, Skids, Skids, Skids’.

“So the MC goes on and says’ blah, blah, blah… oh and I have to tell you the news The Skids cannae play.

“Stuart Adamson’s hurt his hand… but we’ve got this band from Glasgow.

“The boos rang out. Oh my god, the abuse we got.

“We played about eight songs. With every one the abuse got less and less.

“By the end we got an encore.

“You never got encores as a support band, but we got one.

“We left Aberdeen that night feeling ‘Skids, who’s the Skids?’

“We became great pals with Skids but that was our start in Aberdeen.”

Aberdeen legends attend concert

That show was the beginning of a strong connection with Aberdeen for Simple Minds who have returned many times to the city.

They are back again at P&J Live on the 40 Years of Hits Tour to celebrate a career that has amassed record sales in excess of 60 million and chart-topping singles in the UK and United States.

Jim said: “I have always loved playing Aberdeen.

“I remember playing the Capital and all the Aberdeen players were in the second row.

“All the great players like Gordon Strachan, big Alex McLeish – it was great.

“We are desperate to play Aberdeen again because this tour has been postponed three times.

“The band are in great shape.”

Simple Minds have racked up sales of more than 60 million. Photo by Dean Chalkley

Winding people up from the start

In January Simple Minds released single Act of Love, a reworking of a track they originally played in 1978.

The one-off single was released to mark the anniversary of the band’s very first performance – at Glasgow’s Satellite City on January 17, 1978.

Recording that track was like a time machine transporting Jim back to the band’s early days, such as that memorable Aberdeen show.

Jim said: “Act of Love took me right back to jumping in the back of a van to play pubs and clubs in Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling.

“I could even feel the stage fright I used to get – that feeling of ‘oh no is this going to work?’

“It was a very intense time and it takes me right back there.

“We used to go and wind people up from the start.

“We got pelters for the opening two or three songs quite a lot when touring Europe, opening up for bands.

“But I always liked it, that sense of we’ll get them in the end.

“And we usually did.

“It depends if you have the stomach for it – it really does.

“Like lots of things you quickly find out if you have the stomach for it.”

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