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Echo And the Bunnymen have been making great records and playing cleverly thought out shows for years. In Dec 2010 they played the Olympia in Liverpool and Phil Newall went to see if they could still cut it after all this time.

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Echo And The Bunnymen reviewed live – by Phil NewallEcho & The Bunnymen ”“ Liverpool Olympia Sun 12th Dec

Echo & The Bunnymen, a band that command devotion, and a level of devotion that is none more evident than when they play in their home city. It has over time become something of a Liverpool tradition that the Bunnymen will close each year with an appearance in the city; 2011 was no different.

The Bunnymen also have a long tradition of were possible playing venues and locations often not associated with more mainstream rock gigs ”“ Granted Olympia is not exactly new on the gig circuit, but these days it is more often the home of cage fighting etc, and being just that little bit too far out of the city makes it a slightly awkward place to reach, and too be honest its fading Victorian grandeur, lack of parking and friendly locals looking to ”Ëœmind yer car’ have for the most part prevented it from joining the circuit.

Therefore it’s the ideal venue for the Bunnymen!

This was the second of two nights and the final night of the tour; Ian McCulloch is not known for his modesty; this is the man who describes ”ËœOcean Rain’ as “the greatest song ever written” ”“ Well I suspect it was Mac who described the whole tour as ”ËœA master-class in rock ”Ëœn’ roll’; the tag line adorning the posters on offer at the Merchandise stand!!

The Bunnymen like many other bands of their age, and I’m referring to their longevity, and stature have taken to revisiting and performing entire albums, in 2009 they did ”ËœOcean Rain’ complete with accompanying orchestra, which was subsequently released on DVD etc. This time they have gone back even further; the tour was The Bunnymen performing in their entirety their first two releases  1980’s ”ËœCrocodiles’ followed by 1981’s ”ËœHeaven Up Here’; even the stage set revisited bygone days with a reappearance of their once trademark camo netting.

So a packed house was treated to such tracks as ”ËœGoing Up’, Monkeys’, ”ËœRescue’, and ”ËœAll That Jazz’ as well as less often performed tracks such as ”ËœPride’. Interestingly the current live band has expanded to a six piece, two stronger than the line-up that first performed the album now thirty years ago, thankfully however the sound produced tonight was faithful to the original, just filled out with the subtle addition of keyboards and a second guitar.

I’ve seen The Bunnymen many many times, from their early fledgling gigs at Eric’s in the late 70’s to festivals, multiple tours etc; and the only aspect of them live that has ever caused concern has been the increasingly erratic behaviour of front-man Ian McCulloch; he effectively wrecked their 2009 home town gig with his constant stop starting, and verbal orders to the venue technicians complaining about the lighting, or to be more specific a single light bulb! Thankfully no such behaviour was on display tonight, in fact Mac actually looked to be enjoying himself ”“ well he smiled and cracked a joke which for him is a big step”¦

”ËœCrocodiles’ concluded with, true to the album running order ”ËœHappy Death Men’ after which Mac announced a twenty minute interval ”“ New one on me intervals at gigs, but on reflection it worked ”“ I suppose you could equate it to the interval between the albums releases.

Having retaken to the stage we were presented with ”ËœHeaven Up Here’ which as with ”ËœCrocodiles’ remained true to the running order, as such ”ËœShow Of Strength’, ”ËœWith A Hip’ and ”ËœOver The Wall’ came in rapid succession with ”ËœOver The Wall’ providing the first opportunity post interval for the crowd to show their vocal support; as before less performed tracks such as ”ËœNo Dark Things’, and ”ËœTurquoise Days’ had an outing ”“ It was at this point I felt that tracks like that probably should remain exactly that, they certainly showed their age, or were a clear sign post of the period in which they were written ”“ That aside this was a performance of an entire album, and just because they played my less favourite tracks is no reason to complain, but ”ËœAll I Want’ is never going to be a song to close a tour!!

Maybe Mac had considered that, as they then launched into a selection of hits, beginning with the magnificent ”ËœLips Like Sugar’ and visiting ”ËœThe Cutter ”“ oddly enough they didn’t play the ”Ëœgreatest song ever written’, but did include ”ËœBring On The Dancing Horses’ and ”ËœNothing Lasts Forever’ which rather neatly segmented into ”ËœWalk On The Wild Side’ and from their 2009 album a few bars of ”ËœThe Fountain’ which as fellow attendee Ian McNabb, he of The Icicle Works kept commenting “how good was that?” McNabb was stood stage right, right up against the crash barrier ”“ no rock star posturing from him, and also no rock star instant sex appeal as he tried to ”Ëœre-connect’ with a female fan ”“ Ian we love you, but thankfully your lyrics are better than your chat-up lines!!

The Bunnymen were on stage for over two hours, Mac looked to enjoy himself, the crowd certainly did so all bodes well for a promised new album in 2011 ”“ To quote Mac “Lets ave it”

”ËœA master-class in rock ”Ëœn’ roll?’ ”“ Yeah, I’ll ave that too.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Hey, great article!! I posted on my fb page. I came all the way from the States to see Echo in their hometown and I was SOOOOOOOO happy that Mac behaved himself!! He was lovely and entertaining and made Liverpool look good. It was truly one of the best nights of my life!!!!!!! Thanks so much for the great review!! :)


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