Simple Minds, LG Arena, Birmingham
Foxy Shazam, Water Rats, London

Simple Minds play just enough of the songs that remind us of their early greatness, and rock'n'soul has a new king

Perfection is a notoriously elusive concept. For me, the pop ideal is embodied, as closely as anything else I can come up with, by the video to "Glittering Prize" by Simple Minds. In a room draped in gold, a gold-painted model contemplates gold statuary, masks and mummies, while the Minds, clad in black, play entirely gold instruments. The song, of course, is the band's finest moment, driven by a concussed shudder, as though an aftershock from the impact of its own awesomeness, a bassline from Derek Forbes.

And dead centre is the shamanistic figure of Jim Kerr, wearing low-level make-up but not gaudily painted like his New Romantic peers, blessed with a natural femininity which he carried with the confidence of a man who is hung, or so rock'n'roll folklore has it, like a fire extinguisher.

It's difficult to reconcile the beauty of Kerr in that clip with the Bagpuss before me tonight, with his cheesy stage talk ("Are you ready? 1-2-3-4!"), his clichéd rock-messiah body language (fists clenched, waves of salutation) and his outfit (a loose jacket over one of Simple Minds' own tour T-shirts), and by the same token it's equally difficult to convince many people that Simple Minds of today were ever cool.

Oh, but they were cool. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) – the album that gave birth to "Glittering Prize" – was a pinnacle of New Pop immaculacy, every bit as much as ABC's The Lexicon of Love, Scritti Politti's Cupid & Psyche and The Human League's Dare. Both profound and uplifting, they were a band with gravitas and, if you will, levitas. They promised us miracles. Then something horrible happened.

A lot of bands lost it badly around the time of Live Aid, but few bands jumped the shark as spectacularly as Simple Minds. Their post-New Gold Dream decline didn't immediately make itself obvious. Sparkle in the Rain pioneered a new "Big Music" whose full stadium-sized horror had yet to become apparent, and there was something attractive about the clattering majesty of "Waterfront". As soon as they recorded the theme tune for The Breakfast Club, the game was up.

It's that material, however, that pulls in the crowds. Simple Minds never went away since the days when they were neck and neck with U2, and have continued to release albums to dwindling interest, but there will always be people who want to punch the air and go "hey-hey-hey-hey!" to "Don't You Forget About Me", and "ooh-woah, ooh-woah" to "Alive and Kicking". And the singer knows where his bread's buttered. "I want to thank all those people who come back and see us year after year," he says. "This is for you."

Kerr and fellow founder Charlie Burchill have, one suspects, belatedly realised what was once great about Simple Minds. There's an admirably restrained three songs from their current album Graffiti Soul in the set, making space for such early diamonds as "Theme for Great Cities", "Sons and Fascination" and "The American". "Someone Somewhere in Summertime" – another New Gold Dream single – is an unimpeachable highlight, starting 100ft above the ground and never coming down to earth. Furthermore, some of their more toe-curling late Eighties atrocities ("Belfast Child", "Mandela Day") are sensibly written out of history.

There's even a reconnection with their avant-garde roots when OMD – this tour's support act (and another band who went a bit wonky circa 1985) – are invited on for a cover of Kraftwerk's "Neon Lights", a song that was never meant to be performed by Scots and Scousers, or even human beings, and which Kerr spoils by attempting to get an audience singalong when they don't know the words.

One day, maybe Simple Minds will play a first-five-albums tour to small theatres and properly restore their reputation. But first, there are several shedloads of overhead handclaps to co-ordinate.

"If Foxy Shazam was an animal at the zoo," announces Eric Sean Nally, "it would be the one most likely to tear your head off without even thinking about it." There's been a steady trickle of rock'n'soul bands coming out of America this decade, but none of them have had the mind-blowing potential of Foxy Shazam. And that's largely because none of them have had a frontman quite like Eric. This is a man with the face of George Harrison on the Sgt Pepper sleeve, the recklessness of Iggy circa 1973, and the mad mic-stand skills of Prince on the 1999 tour.

His black-and-white patent spats never keep still for a second as he throws himself to the ground, skitters and spins like Bambi on ice. By the time he's 25 his kneecaps will be shot to pieces. And he isn't even the only star in the Cincinatti sextet's ranks. Goggle-eyed keyboardist Schuyler Vaughn White is the most manic I've seen this side of the honky-tonk pianist in Reefer Madness.

Their ability to knock out killer tunes, wickedly witty wordplay and exuberantly maximalist sound (Andrew WK meets Dexys meets Springsteen) has already caused ripples, but it's on stage that they'll really blow your mind. Foxy Shazam are the band who ought to be all over next summer's festivals, painting smiles on everyone's faces.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions