I never quite “got” Simply Red. Their songs were pleasant, in a pseudo-hip, smooth jazz way, fine for a Sunday afternoon drive with the top down. The fact that they’ve sold over fifty million records is impressive, but I never understood the fuss.
Their farewell release, Farewell: Live In Concert At Sydney Opera House, does nothing to convince me otherwise. However, the cheering crowd on both the CD and DVD would beg to differ. Mick Hucknall who, for the final fourteen years of the band’s existence was Simply Red, croons his way through fan favorites such as “Holding Back the Years” and “Your Mirror,” as well as cover versions of Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and The Stylistics’ “You Make Me Feel Brand New”. The concert sounds fine and looks great. Hucknall smiles his way through the songs that have made him a success. Unfortunately the performance fails to be more than workmanlike.
That said, Simply Red fans will be delighted with this set, especially the DVD, which is the full 20-song concert plus a lengthy interview in which Hucknall talks about new material he’s been working on, as he moves along with his career. The CD contains sixteen of the twenty songs from the show. Simply Red fans couldn’t ask for a better swan song from a band that has endured for over a quarter of a century.