Sept 19th 2012
IT ISN’T everyday two rock superstars from different eras come together for an intimate showcase of Echo and the Bunnymen’s illustrious back catalogue.
However, Liverpool’s iconic Ians McCulloch and Broudie joined forces at Manchester’s hallowed nightspot the Factory on Thursday night to perform a selection of stripped-down, acoustic versions of the post-punk great’s classics.
The fervent crowd were more than ably warmed up by Mancunian troubadour Danny Mahon, who has been carving out a growing reputation over the past few years with his witty acoustic anthems of bitterness, mockery and social deprivation, have long since become his trademark.
Tracks such as Council Estate Love, Odd Socks and Beat Me Up, which would without question sit comfortably on many a northern sitcom soundtrack, were infectiously helped along by Mahon’s ardent fans, whose sang passionately throughout his set. However, rather than intimidate those less familiar with his work, it somehow served as the perfect introduction as to why he has become such a cult figure on the Manchester circuit.
McCulloch’s appearance, unsurprisingly donning shades despite the rather low-key atmospheric lighting, was greeted with excited anticipation as the venue began to fill. There was an eclectic mix of age and youth among the crowd, which offered further evidence of his prolonged appeal.
Broudie, also wearing dark glasses, was a more than welcome edition to proceedings despite his understated introduction.
The expected appearance of former Cast frontman John Power, however, never materialised, but the Bunnyman himself was evidently the main attraction here.
It was a rare sight for many onlookers as the Liverpudlian pair, usually so accustomed to commanding stadiums, gathered themselves as they relaxed into two onstage chairs, which McCulloch quickly apologised for considering the venue’s standing-only policy, and began in earnest. There was a definite cosy, jam session-esque vibe from the off.
The set began at a sombre saunter as the duo eased fans in with early cult hits from their 1980 debut album Crocodiles including Rescue, which was produced by Broudie himself over 20 years ago, Do It Clean and Stars Are Stars, which was backed by a drum machine ââ known as the drum box – reminiscent of early Bunnymen shows.
The post-punk melancholia continued as further tracks from their breakthrough record such as Monkeys and Villiers Terrace began to gather momentum.
McCulloch was by now beginning to settle comfortably as the crowd steadily warmed up, despite clearly becoming rattled by one inebriated heckler, who was later ejected by security.
Despite the impressive musicianship, it was clear many had come to witness Bunnymen hits and the meander through tracks including The Disease, Candleland and Bedbug and Ballyhoo received a surprisingly mix reception.
However, the need for classics was more than answered towards the close of the set as Seven Seas, Bring On The Dancing Horses, Nothing Lasts Forever, The Killing Moon and an encore including Lips Like Sugar sent fans into raptures.