REAL GONE GOES OUT: Simple Minds – Dreamland, Margate, Kent 20/6/2024

Simple Minds are no strangers to Margate. They previously visited the seaside town in 2013 on a Greatest Hits tour, and again two years later, promoting ‘Big Music’ – arguably been the best Simple Minds record in many a year. Both gigs took place in the currently closed Winter Gardens, and the band’s presence in the shabby listed building seemed like a bit of a departure from their 80s arena days. It’s also been said that, around that time, Jim Kerr’s voice was supposedly not as good as it had been, but for the hardcore fans, these shows were still well received.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Madness – Dreamland, Margate, Kent 14/6/2024

It’s a bright evening in Margate and the seafront is buzzing. There’s a massive crowd outside of the local Weatherspoon pub, and a lot of pork pie hats on show. It’s even busier than usual, but with good reason: Madness are in town. After a couple of postponements due to the pandemic lockdown, they’ve finally arrived in the legendary seaside town. What’s more, they’ve now got a better show in tow. The ever popular band are currently riding high with a number one album ‘Theatre of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie’, proving there’s far more to the “Camden Nutty Boys” than treading on the cheap coattails of nostalgia.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Billy Bragg – Hall By The Sea, Dreamland, Margate, Kent 10/5/2024

It’s been many years since Billy Bragg last visited Thanet. He confirms this by telling the crowd a really funny story about how, circa 1983, he played a tiny venue in Margate or Broadstairs – the exact details of which are now unclear – and he managed to lock himself in the cellar.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Jim Bob – Dreamland Ballroom, Margate, Kent 26/4/2024

It’s a cold night in Margate. Especially cold considering it is almost May, and the (hopefully sunny) tourist season is about to get into full swing. Outside the Dreamland venue, just before doors open, a few keen gig goers make small talk about their shared past with the night’s big attraction – Mr. Jim Bob, the one time vocalist/guitarist/lyricist with the legendary Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine. A man from Nottingham has seen many shows over the past couple of months, all over the UK, and considered this appearance in Margate to be unmissable. He and his partner joke about stalking with a knowing glint in their eyes – a travelling advert for true fandom. Another man – sporting a Carter USM ‘60 Something’ shirt and day-glo shoes – talks about other shows he’s seen, and fondly remembers the legendary night at Tonbridge Angel Centre in 1993. He’s clearly hoping this night will create similar memories.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Levellers – Hall By The Sea, Dreamland, Margate, Kent 8/12/2021

When the Levellers visited Margate on the ‘We The Collective’ tour in 2018, it coincided with one of the hottest days of the year. Dreamland’s Hall By The Sea was like an oven, but it didn’t stop the Saturday night crowd and the band giving their all. By comparison, their welcome return to the seaside town on a winter Wednesday couldn’t feel more different. Aside from the icy cold, inside and out, there’s not much in the way of obvious revelry. That’s understandable; most people are automatically more restrained on a “school night”, but its more than that. The global pandemic has given the slow return to gigs an uneasy atmosphere anyway, but this night has also been prefaced by Boris Johnson announcing another tightening up of restrictions, meaning that an already cagey mood is heightened by a nagging feeling that this big gathering might be the last for a while. Rather than using the night out cut loose in a carefree way, a lot of the assembled crowd seem rather tentative. It sort of makes sense. The world does feel like a powder keg. On the plus side, the unwelcome news – delivered in the Prime Minister’s usual bumbling fashion – has prompted someone on Twitter to liken him to a “sentient bag of custard”. The fact is, the world has changed since summer 2018. It might never be the same again. Nevertheless, Mark Chadwick, Jeremy Cunningham and company are here…and not before time.

This gig was supposed to take place in March 2020, so for many people it’s been a long wait. The delay has brought a couple of massive changes too. The planned ‘Peace’ tour – which would have showcased the then new album along with old favourites – has been replaced by the ‘Levelling The Land 30th Anniversary Tour’ and, due to unforeseen circumstances, guitarist/vocalist Simon Friend isn’t present. It could be argued that a full performance of the band’s career defining album will offer a superior set, but there’s no getting around the fact that Simon’s presence will be missed by many.

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