I’ve never been the biggest fan of Echo and the Bunnymen, but in my new mindset of not saying no to gigs, I found myself packed in at the local smallish venue, awaiting the arrival of McCulloch and co.
They’ve delivered a fair few pleasant enough alt-pop hits over the years, and one bonafide classic (Back of Love) in my opinion. I had a couple of their early albums, but found them disappointing. My sister had also been something of a fan, but following a gig a few years ago, declared them ‘ a spent force’. Other reviews detailed the decline in McCulloch voice. It would be fair to say I had low-ish expectations of the evening.
As usual, I was wrong. When they ambled onto the dark smokey Wolverhampton stage at just after nine, I found myself pleased to see them. I continued to warm to them throughout the set. It was hard to see a great deal of them. Obviously they’re not as well presented and beautiful as they were in their youth (who is?), but they know this. And much of the gig played out with the band in gloom, or silhouette , which I love. I like a bit of distance between me and the band. In fact, the less I see of them the better. Mac’s voice sounded fine and strong to me an the band tight and together, as they cantered through their back catalogue.
I had to pop out halfway through the gig for a ‘comfort break’. Bad form, I know, but I’m old and can’t stay the course as I used to. When I returned, to the exact spot I had been standing, a small, excitable, slightly unstable looking woman took offence at my position, and requested that I not ‘get between her and McCulloch’. I politely pointed out that had been standing in the same place for an hour and had only popped out briefly. She wasn’t happy, so I moved a few feet to my right to try and accommodate her. A few seconds later, another urgent tap on my shoulder. ‘No! No! Yow’ve gorra keep movin’! I cor see ‘im’.
“Look”, says I, “I’ve already moved for you, I’m staying put. You can stand in front of me if you like?”
“NO!” she countered, somewhat unreasonably, Keep fookin movin’, Gew on, fook off!”
Luckily, one of my companions, a seasoned mental health professional, was on hand to assess the situation, and provide me with an immediate advice to quickly bring the situation to a swift conclusion. “Tell her to fuck right off” was all he said. Wisdom indeed, it did at least set me giggling which lasted about ten seconds, until I felt yet another frantic rap on the back. Deciding that my companion’s prescription needed to be filled, I rounded on the diminutive harpy, and was about to make several suggestions of a somewhat personal nature, when she stopped me in my tracks by asking sweetly if I would mind if she stood in front of me. “Be my guest” was all I could say.
As I warmed to the Bunnymen, Mac seemed to warm to the crowd. His banter initially was jibes in such a thick scouse accent, no one could really understand. As we progressed he softened, and began to tease the mosh pit. During an impromptu cover of ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ he good-humouredly chastised the front row as “sheep’ and taunted them gently with a chorus of 'Agadoo', as they tried to join in the ‘Doo-Dee-Doo’s’. Threatening to deprive them of ‘The Cutter’ in the encore if they didn’t behave.
I’m sure it’s all schtick, done a hundred times before, but none the worse for it.
Physically they may not be in great shape, but they’re in great shape.