Holding back the years – Simply Red play Portugal

IT HAS been 21 years since Mick Hucknall and his bandmates first hit the music scene as Simply Red with the release of their debut single, Money’s Too Tight (To Mention). The beginning of their career saw great success in America, however, since then, their popularity has moved across the Atlantic, especially to Germany, Italy and the UK. Originating from Manchester, Simply Red are well known for their easy listening sound, mixing together the musical styles of pop, jazz and soul.

Early on in their career, the band achieved two number one singles in the US, with Holding Back the Years in 1986 and the Harold Melvin cover song If You Don’t Know Me By Now in 1989. This success made Hucknall an international superstar and he immediately became famous for all the wrong reasons – his womanising and arrogant behaviour being focused on more than his music. He once described Simply Red as “more of a solo project”, which goes some way towards explaining why the band has always had an ever-changing line up.

It was the release of the band’s fourth album, Stars, in 1991, which saw the peak of Simply Red’s career. Although notably less successful in the States, the hits Something Got Me Started and Stars were both massive hits in Europe. The band’s popularity continued with the release of Life, which contained the single Fairground, producing Simply Red’s first ever number one hit in the UK.

Although the band has not reached anywhere near this level of success in the last 10 years, the band still tours extensively and will continue to do so in 2006, in support of the release of their 10th studio album, Simplified. This album is a collection of new songs in addition to new versions of many of the greatest hits, such as For Your Babies and Holding Back the Years.

Now in his forties, Hucknall is much more settled and has left his troubled ways behind him. Although still a notorious Manchester United supporter and left wing political activist (the inspiration behind the band name Simply Red), he is happy living the quiet life and hoping to start a family in the near future.

Simply Red have not been back to Portugal since their 2003 performance at the Aveiro Festival, so fans are eagerly awaiting this visit. Their performances in Porto and Lisbon will conclude their 2006 tour, and promise to be two quality nights of music from one of England’s most well loved acts.

• Simply Red play the Pavilhão Rosa Mota in Porto on September 6, and Lisbon’s Pavilhão Atlântico on September 7. Tickets are available from www.ticketline.pt or by calling 707 234 234. They are also available at FNAC stores and most ticket agencies.