SIMPLE MINDS, one of the biggest bands to come out of the 80s, played to a capacity crowd against a stunning back drop just outside Swindon on Friday night - here's what our reporter Sarah Phaedre Watson thought.

The band, who played their first first gig in Glasgow in 1977, headlined a superstar-studded lineup which include songstress K T Tunstall and, legends in their own right, The Pretenders.

First up, Scottish singer-songwriter K T Tunstall, having never seen Kate before I asked a number of the event staff what to expect - their verdict was unanimous, she was a support act who held her own on the bill.

Her career spans an impressive 14 years and she proved that her multi-award winning back catalogue was the perfect sound track to a late Summer afternoon.

Popular tunes such as Black Horse and the Cherry Tree and Suddenly I See had the crowd singing along and dancing as her dulcet tones echoed across the beautiful park.

Newer tracks build with layers of rocking, rhythmic guitars and an infectious choruses - as soon as her set finished there was a stampede to the merch tent to buy her albums.

And then as the sun began to set Chrissie Hynde and her band took to the stage.

Proving that she still deserves her title as one of the coolest women in rock music - Chrissie prowled the stage casually dropping hit after hit.

A glance around the audience showed that she is still more than capable of captivating a crowd - as thousands of hypnotised fans hung on her every note.

The 80s superstars played an appropriate Alive and Kicking as their finale:

Listening to her sing Don't Get Me Wrong or the Girls Aloud recently covered I'll Stand By You as the sky turned a deep orange and the night began to fall is probably one of the most perfect moments a Pretenders fan can experience.

After Chrissie and the band left the stage a frenzy of activity broke out on and around the stage for at least 30 minutes.

Motors could be heard running, cameras moved into place, and as the stage transformed a tangible build up of anticipation and excitement could be felt in the temporary arena.

Speaking to some of those gathered and waiting it became clear that Simple Minds fans are pretty dedicated.

Some had followed the band right from the early years - although I couldn't find anyone who was at that first Glasgow gig - may had seen the more times than they could count on both hands.

Others had brought their children for their first gig, reminiscing about how it had been their first gig too - and with the family-friendly atmosphere it was wonderful to see memories being created.

Finally, the stage was set and the country park was transformed with crystal clear sound and fantastic light shows into a stadium arena.

A video of 80s anthem and the Breakfast Club theme 'Don't You Forget About Me' perfromed by Simple Minds in Swindon on Friday:

A confession; although this reporter had never seen Simple Minds before Friday evening, Jim Kerr was a prominent fixture on my poster wall growing up, so I was certainly nervous to see how he would perform now we are both a little 'more mature'.

I shouldn't have worried because the Simple Minds' front man still has what it takes to hold an audience in the palm of his hand - and perform some impressive onstage moves.

Some how he managed to recreate the sweaty intimacy of a Glaswegian nightclub, whilst still providing a jaw-dropping show.

He playfully bantered with the audience, regaling them with tales of his last trip to Swindon, before effortless slipping on his rock god crown for the next song.

The show provided a whistle-stop tour through an astounding backlog as well as tracks from their new album.

Another original member of Simple Minds Charlie Burchill still plays a prominent role in the band with his distinctive atmospheric guitar sound, and the camaraderie between Burchill and Kerr provides an air of experienced ease on the stage.

Complementing the founding duo is the wonderful Sarah Brown on vocals, the indefatigable Cherisee Osei on drums, alongside band mainstay Ged Grimes on bass and the talented multi-instrumentalist Gordon Goudie.

By the time the opening cords of the Breakfast Club theme 'Don't You Forget About Me' played out every member of the audience couldn't help but join in with frenzied dancing and a belting sing along.

And what more appropriate finale for a band who is still entertaining an appreciative audience after over 40 years? Alive and Kicking of course.

Now, where's that old Jim Kerr poster of mine...

  • The Simple Minds Grandslam 18 UK tour continues until September 9, full national and international tour dates can be found here: