Simple Minds/Devo/The Church – Villa Maria Winery December 15, 2012

Devo Fan

With Morrissey at The Vector Arena and these three 80s veterans at Villa Maria Winery, it felt like the summer concert season had begun in earnest. Fortunately the weather was perfect for the outdoor show that saw two of the three bands on the bill tossing any notions of nostalgia aside and rocking out with the energy and enthusiasm of a band just hitting its stride.

Australian rockers The Church began recording in 1980 and are still making vital music now. That was evident in their nine-song set that saw three tunes played from albums released during the past decade. Church 15.12.12

The quartet (Steve Kilbey, bass & vocals, Marty Willson-Piper, guitar, Peter Koppes, guitar and Tim Powles, drums), took the stage just before 5pm and kicked things off with a beautifully-jangly Metropolis from their 1990 album, Gold Afternoon Fix.  With the sunshine and the wine, the music of The Church fit the mood perfectly.

Kilbey then led the band into An Unguarded Moment, probably their best-known song from their early years.

After Almost With You, another early favourite, they played Sealine from 2003’s Forget Yourself. Steve Kilbey abandoned his bass in order to wave his arms dramatically while singing. Fortunately there was a fifth musician on stage to take over the bass when Kilbey was otherwise occupied and who also played keyboards and guitar.

On Angel Street from their acclaimed 2009 album, Untitled #23 was dark and atmospheric with some Pink Floyd-like moments.

Kilbey’s energetic bass playing powered Reptile….and then came the sublime Under The Milky Way.

Then Willson-Piper and Koppes took over from there, each playing some stunning guitar on the final two tunes with You Took turning into a thrilling jam.

Sadly, The Church’s set was over too soon. This was the first time they had played in New Zealand since the 1980s. Let’s hope someone has the good sense to bring them back soon for their own headlining tour. They were excellent.

At 6:15 Devo arrived, preceded by a video montage projected on the back of the stage. The five musicians were decked out in grey Devo gear. To prove they were no oldies act, they opened with Don’t Shoot (I’m A Man) from their latest album, 2010’s Something For Everybody. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the shooting at the US elementary school that took place earlier in the day. Devo 1

Cool graphics and animations flashed on the screen as Mark Mothersbaugh sang Peek-Boo!, What We Do, Going Under and Fresh.  The last another keeper from the new album.

From then on, the emphasis was on classic Devo tunes like Girl U Want, Whip It and Uncontrollable Urge. Though the songs may be over thirty years old, they sounded completely fresh and contemporary…a sign that these boys from Ohio were way ahead of their time.

There were plenty of costume changes as well. They stripped off their grey jackets and donned their classic blue hats for Girl U Want. After Whip It, they left the stage and returned in their yellow jump suits for three tracks from their debut album. Devo 3

Then, they changed into their black shorts and kneepads. Bob #2 shredded the strings of his guitar during Smart Patrol/Mr DNA.

They left the stage again after Gates Of Steel and came back sporting orange shirts to go with the black shorts. Mothersbaugh pulled a bag of chips from the back of his shorts, had a munch, then tossed them into the crowd for Freedom Of ChoiceDevo 6

For the finale, Mothersbaugh came out as the high-pitched Booji Boy for Beautiful World. During the extended song he commented on Kiwis and Hobbits and almost lost the momentum of the moment when he made remarks about Michael Jackson. The crowd stayed with him and they rocked out with more Beautiful World.

Thirty years after Devo last performed in New Zealand, it was a triumphant return. The crowd was ecstatic. Devo 7

It was up to Simple Minds to follow those two very good sets. They did, but although they put in a good effort, for me they definitely were the least interesting of the three bands.

Unlike the previous bands, Simple Minds did not perform anything from their recent albums, concentrating on their 1980s output (one song dated from the 90s).

Front man Jim Kerr proved he was in good form, kneeling down and leaning way back during the first song, Waterfront. SM2

For Love Song, female vocalist Sarah Brown joined the band, looking very exotic in her green gown and headgear. “Sing for the Kiwis!” Kerr encouraged her during Celebrate.

The crowd was happy to sing-along during The American and there was plenty of pointing and posing from Kerr.

Sanctify Yourself raised the temperature a bit, but Don’t You Forget About Me, which should have been the highlight, felt somewhat flat. Perhaps Kerr could have done more singing instead of leaving to the crowd. It kind of sputtered to a finish.

And after less than an hour, the set came to an end with New Gold Dream.

Not to worry, the band came back for a 6-song encore that made the pacing of the show seem a bit strange.

They played three more songs from 1982’s New Gold Dream, then Alive And Kicking, which got the crowd up and cheering . After Ghostdancing they closed with a sing-along of Van Morrison’s Gloria.

I admit that I’m not much of a Simple Minds fan and they did little to persuade me otherwise, although Kerr did give an energetic performance and it’s clear they are all fine musicians. I just found the songs of Devo and The Church much more exciting.

Marty Duda

The Church set list:

  1. Metropolis
  2. An Unguarded Moment
  3. Almost With You
  4. Sealine
  5. On Angel Street
  6. Reptile
  7. Under The Milky Way
  8. Block
  9. You Took

Devo Set list:

  1. Don’t Shoot (I’m A Man)
  2. Peek-A-Boo!
  3. What We Do
  4. Going Under
  5. Fresh
  6. That’s Good
  7. Girl U Want
  8. Whip It
  9. Uncontrollable Urge
  10. Mongoloid
  11. Jocko Homo
  12. Smart Patrol/Mr DNA
  13. Gates Of Steel
  14. Devo Corporate Anthem
  15. Freedom Of Choice
  16. Beautiful World

Simple Minds set list:

  1. Waterfront
  2. Love Song
  3. Celebrate
  4. All The Things She Said
  5. The American
  6. This Fear Of Gods
  7. See The Lights
  8. Sanctify Yourself
  9. Don’t You Forget About Me
  10. New Gold Dream
  11. Someone, Somewhere in Summertime
  12. Promised You A Miracle
  13. Glittering Prize
  14. Alive And Kicking
  15. Ghostdancing
  16. Gloria

19 responses to “Simple Minds/Devo/The Church – Villa Maria Winery December 15, 2012

  1. Does anyone remember seeing DEVO at the Logan Campbell Centre in the early eighties? Were they TV’s. Pretty much ruined every concert I saw until Michael Jackson in the late nineties. How was that shit organised…stay by the phone? Classic stuff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_utP1mGoutQ&list=FLKfyZySbwcIVzDkj-Vb3RdA

  2. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m
    not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  3. Mark

    I travelled all the way from Invercargill to see Devo and wasn’t disappointed. I paid for tickets in the seating area but had to leave after 2 songs cos hardly anyone got up to dance. Not sure where people were getting their merchandise but I managed to get a XXL Devo t-shirt. Disappointed they didn’t have any red or blue Devo hats for sale. Fantastic band, fantastic venue, thanks Auckland

  4. Chris

    Bang on marty ….. Devo ruled the day ….

  5. I went to this concert to see Simple Minds, not that keen on seeing The Church or Devo, however The Church were amazing! I am now a fan they are true musicians I didn’t want them to finish, Devo were also fantastic had the crowd rocking and they were a hard act to follow. Simple Minds were next, my adrenalin was pumping, I am sad to say I was so disappointed Jim Kerr appears to have lost his powerful voice they seemed very flat, I had waited all these years maybe that was the problem, the night was great meet lots of new people, drinks were good price and didint have to wait long Great Night!

    • Scott

      Hey Leeann, i totally agree…The Church are incredible and brillaint musicians and were put on way too early on saturday night. they have 26 albums or so…and should have been headlining the show! They have an amazing catalougue of brillance and blew me away too. “Reptile” just incredible and “You Took” – the last track they played on the night…I didnt want it to stop. Devo were great (but very novelty…very samish) and seemed like we were stuck in a time warp with Simple Minds…reliving the 80′s and 90′s and i thought they sounded the most dated of all the bands.
      More Church I say…and hoping it wont be too long before they are back on NZ shores again!!!! Come back guys!!!! MWP you’re amazing!!!
      Scott

      • Scott, totally agree, I was blown away by their talent, those Aussie and Kiwi bands do that real hard graft getting to the top, and boy does it show! I would love to see The Church again I hope they come back too!!

  6. TheLoneranger

    I give Marty credit for admitting he is not into Simple Minds.A contrast would be the Melbourne review of Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot,whose opening comment was “Why do all rockabilly guys feel the need to stand on their instruments”.Predictablyl he went on to give a 5 star show only 3 stars.For those of you who live In Auckland,give thanks for the huge number of live shows you have always had presented to you.” As a Simple Minds fan,if I had been able to attend the show,the set list would have been perfect.You need to remember that there are many people who have never had the opportunity to see bands such as this.

  7. WandaNZ

    I was there and it was an awesome evening. Yes DEVO was the highlight for me, yes Jim Kerr could have sung more and yes there could have been more merchandise BUT It was GREAT – and it was summer with a GREAT crowd of people and all the good organisation!!!

  8. Quentin Stewart

    Simple Minds absolutely fantastic! The only slight disappointment I had is that they have still yet to debut Hypnotised and Mandela Day in NZ, which are two of their best songs! Incidentally, just can’t believe just how good ’70 Cities as Love Brings the Fall’, and ‘In Trance as Mission’ sound on their recently released live 5×5 album…two songs which are average on the original album but are something special on their live tour….would have loved to hear them as well.

  9. Michael Larsen

    Yes, strangely times Simple Minds set. But prepraing for dodgy run-throughs of “the hits” it was kinda nice that they played, as mentioned above, “The American” and “Love Song”. Stranger still to get “This Fear of Gods” off “Empires and Dance” and “Celebrate: off the same LP. Made the extended and hum drum “Don’t You…” OK.

  10. ah heck, i can’t let this review go – do your homework! simple minds 5×5 festival set, part of their 5×5 global tour.

    http://www.simpleminds.org/sm/tours/t2012-3/index.htm.

    for those of us who are fans it’s why we went and why we had an absolute blast!

  11. glen

    Well mr reviewer,I and all with us have to disagree with respect to Simple Minds.We were up the front and had a absolute blast.Jim played to the crowd and the whole show went off.The Church were brilliant too we thought.Devo we found 6 songs was enough.Not enough variation to their music for us personally.Overall,a wicked night had by all……but the Minds were totally the highlight!!!!!!!!

  12. Boylee

    So I have to agree with this review. The standout for me was DEVO. To be honest I was not expecting much even though I have been a Spudhead since I saw devolution on Radio with Pictures many moons ago. They were my second concert ever at the CHCH Town Hall back in 1981 starting that gig off on conveyor belts signing Goin Under was just magic. To hear that song again and the rest of their set was the highlight and one that made the day on the green one to remember.

    The only wee niggle I had was the lack of merchandise in the right sizes. Great selection just all the popular sizes from XL down had gone before they arrived on our fair shores. Not a great look and very poor organising from my perspective.

    • Anna

      Totally agree with you. I never got to go to the first concer here of DEVO, so was happy to pay to be in the front row this time. They were fantastic. I was gutted though not to be able to purchase a t-shirt as the only ones left were too small. I enjoyed all the music, and thought Simple Minds and the Church were fantastic as well, though I really did go for DEVO. So glad they were able to come back to NZ.

  13. Sue

    Fantastic revew for the folks that were not lucky enough to be there. Thanks!

  14. Pingback: Simple Minds/Devo/The Church – Villa Maria Winery (Concert Review) | The 13th Floor

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