The year is 2022. The year is 1978. On January 17, Simple Minds release ‘Act Of Love’ as a one-off single to mark the anniversary of the band’s very first performance – at Glasgow’s Satellite City on January 17, 1978.
Mixed by Alan Moulder (Suede, Arctic Monkeys, The Killers), ‘Act Of Love’ is a vivid reimagining of one of the first songs Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill wrote together. It speaks of where Simple Minds have been and where they are heading. Honouring the youthful passion and belief which sparked the band into life, it pulses with the desire which continues to drive Kerr and Burchill to create thrilling new music.
The track is an act of time travel, sweeping across four decades in just a few exhilarating minutes.
Jim Kerr explains: ‘Over the years people have asked: When did you think Simple Minds had the potential to make it? My stock answer was always, Oh, we didn’t really think about that. But I realise now that I wasn’t telling the truth. I believed we had something special as soon as I heard Charlie play the riff on ‘Act Of Love’.’
‘Act Of Love’ is synonymous with the beginning of the Simple Minds story. It was the first song played at the Satellite City show in January 1978, and the opening track on the demo tape that won the band a record deal later that year. ‘I always loved the song,’ says Kerr. ‘To all intents and purposes, it was the first thing anyone heard of Simple Minds. It became our rallying cry, our banner.’
As Simple Minds established themselves as the hottest property on the Scottish post-punk scene, ‘Act Of Love’ became a live favourite. ‘We believed in it, but would anyone else?’ says Kerr. ‘It was so great when they did. It was the oxygen we needed to continue.’
Life moved fast back then. By the time Simple Minds recorded their debut album, Life In A Day, early in 1979, the song had ‘disappeared into the mist without ever being properly recorded. ‘Through the years, I always wanted to go back to it,’ says Kerr. In 1980 the singer recycled the title phrase as the opening line to ‘Celebrate’, the electro-blues juggernaut from Simple Minds’ extraordinary third album, Empires & Dance. Meanwhile, bootlegs of the 1978 demos ensured that ‘Act Of Love’ was treasured among diehard fans.
Four decades, numerous hit singles and 60m record sales later, Kerr and Burchill have finally returned to the song. A couple of years ago, while Burchill was in Thailand on a busman’s holiday, he sent Kerr the outline of an updated version of the track. ‘It was ‘Act Of Love’ with a new bit, and it sounded great.’
While recording the next Simple Minds album in Hamburg during 2020 and 2021, the follow up to 2018’s acclaimed Walk Between Worlds, periodically they returned to ‘Act Of Love’. ‘We tinkered around with it,’ says Kerr. ‘When we listened to the original demo, we loved its spirit and its general form, but it sounded like a youth club band song. How could we do that now, adding extra pieces without losing the essence?
‘Act Of Love’ takes the 1978 version to new places. The original rattled along with the youthful energy one would expect from fans of the Velvet Underground, Magazine and Roxy Music. In 2022, the killer riff and chorus melody remain, bolstered by pulsing synths and a surging new section in which Kerr sings poignantly to his younger self: ‘A born believer / Head full of plans / Got nothing to lose / So much to reveal.’
‘I was thinking about the excitement of what we were setting out to do. We would rehearse in the afternoon in a derelict building in the Gorbals and I’d walk past Govanhill Library, thinking about the idea of the muse: a voice within that will appear and provide inspiration. That’s what the song was about originally. Now I’m looking back, reflecting on how the belief was real. When Charlie played that riff, it made me think we could do this. From that belief becomes your attitude, your body language, the whole culture of the band.’
A bridge between Simple Minds’ glittering past and still-evolving future, ‘Act Of Love’ is a reassertion of faith. The song has again become a ‘rallying cry’, this time for fans who have waited two years for the group to re-commence their world tour. Curtailed in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, it is due to start again in the spring.
‘What a thing: merging the very first Simple Minds song and where we are now,’ says Kerr. ‘There’s a story there. I think we’ve managed to tell it well.’
Listen to ‘Act Of Love’ – BELOW:
Formed in the seventies, and named after a lyric – ‘so simple minded’ – from David Bowie’s seminal 1975 single The Jean Genie, Simple Minds have become one of the most successful bands ever to come from the UK, selling over 60 million records worldwide, having number-one singles on both sides of the Atlantic, and number one albums the world over, including five UK number one albums: Sparkle In The Rain(1984), Once Upon A Time(1985) and street Fighting Yearsas well as the concert recording live In The City Of Light (1987), and the compilation Glittering Prize 81/92.
Over the past 10 years, Simple Minds has rekindled the magic that made them a vital artistic force in their early days, found themselves referenced by younger artists and playing to tens of thousands of people every year, all over the world. They have been the recipient of the Q Awards Lifetime Achievement and received universal critical acclaim for their recent albums. 2015’s Big Music was described by MOJO magazine as “their best album in 30 years”, and 2018’s Walk Between Worlds was acclaimed across the board and became their most successful album in over two decades, culminating in their largest US tour to date.
To celebrate 40 years of hits, Simple Minds embark on a world tour in March playing European shows and arriving in the UK on 31st March:
31 March The SSE Arena Wembley, London
01 April International Centre, Bournemouth
03 April Brighton Centre
05 April P&J Live, Aberdeen
06 April OVO Hydro, Glasgow
07 April Resorts World Arena, Birmingham
09 April First Direct Arena, Leeds
10 April Utilita Arena, Newcastle
12 April Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
14 April Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
15 April Bonus Arena, Hull
16 April M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
18 June Nocturne Live, Blenheim Palace
09 August Custon House Square, Belfast
12 August Summer Sessions, Edinburgh
13 August Summer Sessions, Edinburgh