Echo And The Bunnymen worked their Bunnymagic on a full house crowd last week, at New York’s Webster Hall. Judging by the demand for tickets and the insane prices they were changing hands for just prior to the show they should probably have played Terminal 5 or possibly somewhere bigger—a return to Radio City maybe?
How good were they? They were good. They were very good. Scratch that. They were off the f*****g charts good. Save for one technical error, in the middle of 'Rescue', from which they quickly recovered, that was as close to a perfect gig as I have ever seen. I’ve avoided some bands for years, decades even, for fear of destroying a memory, of shattering an illusion, afraid to take off the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. Don’t you, dear reader, make that same mistake.
With no new album to promote, we were treated to a run through of some of the choicest cuts from their stellar back catalog. Opening with 'Going Up' the early part of the set drew heavily from Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here. Mac, largely static through 'Heads Will Roll', 'Crocodiles', and 'All That Jazz' allowed himself a little shimmy as the crowd pleasing 'Do It Clean' opened up into it’s traditional 'Roadhouse Blues'/ 'Sex Machine' midsection before Will, our Will, brought the spiky, punky beauty of it all back to the fore with that trademark guitar play of his. It would be remiss of me to pass this off as merely the Mac and Will show. Yes it is their band; yes they are the only two original members but this is one tight, tight band with a rhythm section that can more than hold it’s own.
I’m drenched in sweat. Everybody around me is drenched in sweat. We’re singing along, doing that waist up swaying type thing you do when there’s not much room. Everyone looks happy. 'Over The Wall' makes me feel like I’m 15 again. Sometimes things creep up on you. You don’t really realize how important some things are to you. These are the songs that sound-tracked my formative years. The lads behind me pass round a joint. I don’t smoke but I’m grateful for this. I grew up watching bands in dark smokey venues, it’s not the opera.
By the time we hit 'Bring On the Dancing Horses' pretty much everyone’s singing along. 'The Killing Moon', it’s a perfect song isn’t it? One of the greatest ever written. This is beautiful. I’d argue that from ’82 to ’85 The Bunnymen produced one of the finest runs of singles ever. 'The Back Of Love', 'The Cutter', 'Never Stop', 'The Killing Moon', 'Silver', 'Seven Seas', 'Bring On The Dancing Horses'. I love the fact that their greatest work reached their biggest audience.
They encored with 'Nothing Last Forever' which morphed effortlessly into 'Take A Walk On The Wild Side', a ballsy move just a short walk from Max's Kansas City. It works. Tonight New York loves The Bunnymen. They close the set with 'Lips Like Sugar' and the venue’s hopping. Mac’s voice has held out magnificently for the whole show and I’d love to do it all again tomorrow.
Once upon a time, they used to claim they were the greatest band in the world. Once upon a time it was true. Tonight Echo And The Bunnymen, once again, touched greatness.
Echo And The Bunnymen are currently touring like a bunch of crazed teenagers. It might be a good idea to go see them. Get tickets here