Wham, bam… It’s Grandslam, as two much-loved Scottish acts and a great pretender from America are sent to Coventry – one for the very first time…

Review: Simple Minds Grandslam '18, Coventry live

Delving back into Simple Minds’ long history, Jim Kerr reckons tonight is a first. “In 40 years, we’ve been around the world a thousand times and never played Coventry!” he declares.

Hard to believe that even in those floundering pre-hits days, when the Scots played such towns as Kidderminster and Dawlish, they didn’t make it to the city that birthed 2-Tone and King – but then, who’s going to argue with Jim?

Earlier in the evening, fellow Scot KT Tunstall, armed with various guitars, pedals and loops, opens Grandslam. She’s recently “defected to Venice Beach, Los Angeles, where everyone wears white jeans,” and the move seems to have reinvigorated the songwriter. Sure, her ‘experimental folk’ hit Suddenly I See was always great, but listen to Maybe It’s A Good Thing which, even solo and played to a scattered early doors crowd, fills the arena.

She’s not afraid to take risks either, pulling out a kazoo for a mash-up of Black Horse And The Cherry Tree andeThe White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army, or throwing in Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down (a track she’s recorded with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready).

Big Jim’s a fan, and it’s easy to see why. He’s also, no doubt, a fan of his ex, Chrissie Hynde, and The Pretenders. With original member Martin Chambers back on the drum stool and aided by regular guitarist James Walbourne (from The Rails), they let the music do the talking.

It’s straightforward rock ’n’ roll (in the broader sense): bass, drums, guitar, songs. Chambers’ driving shuffle on Don’t Get Me Wrong keeps the audience on their toes, but what makes them shine is Chrissie’s voice – as nuanced as ever, her vibrato waver ensures I’ll Stand By You and Hymn To Her are stop-dead moments.

As dusk creeps in, the stage lights up and Simple Minds crash down – with Jim and co-founder Charlie Burchill leading the band through the epic The Signal And The Noise (from this year’s Walk Between Worlds), before hammering into a clattering Waterfront, and thumping Love Song.

Though a Promised You A Miracle revision (with KT Tunstall guesting) doesn’t quite deliver on its promise, and See The Lights fails to sparkle, The American, a grandiose Someone Somewhere (In Summertime), All The Things She Said and newie Walk Between Worlds keep Minds firmly on track.

Winding up with Don’t You (Forget About Me), The Call’s Let The Day Begin, a spot-on Alive And Kicking, and Sanctify Yourself, it’s a crowd-winning and well-rehearsed performance built for arenas.

Review: Simple Minds Grandslam '18, Coventry live

Written by Dave Freak. Performed on 1 August 2018.

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