by Paul Cashmere, Noise11
Mick Hucknall is simply at the top of his game.
Marking the 30th anniversary of Simply Red, Hucknall is revisiting the planet to remind fans of the decades of greatest hits his band has delivered and, in just under two hours, you are gobsmacked by the number of songs you know.
Hucknall shames the newbies with his all-hit set list and totally unique vocal. Simply Red is old school, a blue-eyed Manchester soul band with a voice that is instantly recognisable. Unlike the diluted and homogenised pap that parades as pop music today Mick Hucknall is the real deal. Once upon a time the barrier to entry was talent. It is all about the vocals, the instruments and the songs. Mick Hucknall hails from that time.
The Simply Red setlist is a journey through time. Hucknall is equally songwriter and interpreter. The line blurs between the songs he wrote and the songs he honours. While Holding Back The Years is one of his, If You Don’t Know Me By Now is a Harold Melvin & the Blues Notes cover. Hucknall wrote Something Got Me Started but Money’s Too Tight is a Valentine Brothers cover. You Make Me Feel Brand New is The Stylistics but Stars is from Mick.
A Simply Red show is also a moment in time for the audience. The experience is unique to the night with Hucknall mixing up the setlist each show so fans walk away with a program created just for them that day.
Natalie Imbruglia opened for Simply Red. It just didn’t work. Natalie is someone who didn’t ‘pay the dues’ and it shows. Artists are like athletes. When you practice hard and play often you become very good at what you do. Natalie skipped that part of her career. The performance was amateurish, the vocals thin, the banter reserved and Natalie looked like a fish out of water on stage, especially with an audio fault where she stood around like a stunned mullet before trying to fill the gap. The arrangements of Tom Petty’s The Waiting countrified and The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love with a banjo were embarrassing. Referring to Julian Casablancas as Julian Casablanca for a song of his she has even recorded was unforgivable. It was a shame. She can act. I just wish she acted like she could sing.
Simply Red, 16 February 2016, Palais, St Kilda Melbourne
- Look At You Now (from Picture Book, 1985)
- A New Flame (from A New Flame, 1989)
- Never Never Love (from Life, 1995)
- Night Nurse (from Blue, 1998)
- Thrill Me (from Stars, 1991)
- You Make Me Feel Brand New (from Home, 2003)
- For Your Babies (from Stars, 1991)
- Holding Back The Years (from Picture Book, 1985)
- It's Only Love (from A New Flame, 1989)
- Your Mirror (from Stars, 1991)
- Stars (from Stars, 1991)
- The Right Thing (from Men and Women, 1987)
- Come To My Aid (from Picture Book, 1985)
- Sunrise (from Home, 2003)
- Fairground (from Life, 1995)
- Shine On (from Big Love, 2015)
- Money’s Too Tight (from Picture Book, 1985)
- Something Got Me Started (from Stars, 1991)
- If You Don’t Know Me By Now (from A New Flame, 1989)