Liam Rudden: Prize acts glitter at Forth Awards

'DON'T you forget about me,' beamed Jim Kerr during the highlight of this year's Forth Awards at the Usher Hall, Wednesday.

Saturday, 19th November 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd November 2016, 1:02 pm
Jim Kerr. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The capacity crowd didn’t let him down, belting out the chorus of one of the most iconic songs of the eighties.

It was a moment made all the more poignant by the fact that, up on his feet singing along with the rest of the 2000 strong crowd, was Bruce Findlay, the city’s legendary music guru who managed Simple Minds from 1978 to 1990, ensuring their place as one of, if not Scotland’s greatest musical export.

Other artistes to benefit from Bruce’s managerial prowess over the years have included China Crisis, The Silencers, Aberfeldy and even Muriel Gray, but at the Forth Awards it was all about Simple Minds as Kerr and bandmate Charlie Burchill rocked the concert hall with cracking acoustic performances of Don’t You Forget About Me and Alive and Kicking - their new acoustic album Simple Minds Acoustic is out now.

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With the audience on their feet and in the moment, it was the perfect end to the awards... only it wasn’t.

Pity poor Paul Carrack, a brilliant songwriter and performer in his own rite, having to follow that. Energy drop.

That said, The Forth Awards have now become an Edinburgh institution.

Like the boisterous head-strong sibling of the Capital’s more sedate affairs, the Forth Awards harness all the creative energy of the top secret acts lined-up to perform with the enthusiasm of the local nominees and their attendant supporters, who nosily cheer on from the circle and balcony. It can be explosive.

It’s a big old barn is the Usher Hall, albeit a barn with exquisite acoustics.

Also entertaining on the day were Kevin Simm, winner of The Voice and one time member of Liberty X (what a voice!) and veteran chart topper Paul Young. Again, what a voice! Same reaction, very different reason.

While Simm blew the crowd away with his amazing range... well, let’s just leave it there. So often the words left unspoken speak loudest.

Bringing a bit of jazz to the event fell to the cast of Five Guys Named Moe, who take up residence in the curiously named Festival Square Theatre during Edinburgh’s Christmas. Now, that’s not going to confuse visitors as locals alike, is it?

Wonder how many will roll up at the Festival Theatre on Nicolson Street expecting a night of Louis Jordan and find an evening of ballet instead.

Another production selling itself at the awards was Wonderland, which receives its European premiere at the Playhouse in January.

It was great to see the brilliant Stephen Webb showing how it’s done, fresh from a stint in West End smash Jersey Boys, although last time I caught up with him he was in a rehearsal room in London workshopping a musical version of the popular Ealing film Passport To Pimlico. Hope it comes off.

At the Playhouse, Webb is joined by ex-Corrie favourite Wendi Peters and Kerry Ellis, as Alice.

It promises to be one mad tea-party.