Gig review: Echo & The Bunnymen, Glasgow

Echo and the Bunnymen. Picture: Bill Henry

Echo and the Bunnymen. Picture: Bill Henry

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STILL brimming with attitude, Ian McCulloch is given to declaiming things like “This is the greatest song ever written, apparently” and “This is a new one – it’s fantastic”.

Echo & The Bunnymen

Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

***

In fact, diehard fans would probably be disappointed if he didn’t show off, for it’s that attitude, as much as the band’s unswerving commitment to the sound they first created in the early 1980s, which defines the Bunnymen as still being edgy and not just another past-it group churning out the old hits.

Yet the first half of this show didn’t quite convince that ‘Mac the Mouth’ and the rest still have the fire in their bellies to back up his words. Newer material from their 2014 album Meteorites sounded samey, with the snarled vocals often sunk beneath the guitars. And at times it veered into karaoke, with uninspired cover versions of The Doors’ Roadhouse and People Are Strange, Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side (retitled “Clydeside” as McCulloch gushed about his Scottish roots and proffered belated thoughts about the independence referendum), and even snatches of James Brown and Nat ‘King’ Cole.

Far better were their crowd-pleasing older songs, with classics Seven Seas, Bring On The Dancing Horses, The Cutter and the aforementioned “greatest song” The Killing Moon. With a dark sky behind them, this took on an epic grandeur as it sinisterly echoed through the park. Fans seemed happiest to sing along to the familiar hits, with Nothing Lasts Forever and an extended Lips Like Sugar following as encore, before a gentle version of Ocean Rain (“the second greatest song ever written”) provided an atmospheric finish. But in relying so heavily on old material, the Bunnymen verged uncomfortably close to the nostalgia act they’d surely despise.

Seen on 15.08.15

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