Echo and the Bunnymen roll back the years at Sheffield City Hall

More than 45 years in and the elder statesmen of post-punk are still determined to show the young upstarts a thing or two.
Echo and the Bunnymen on stage at Sheffield City HallEcho and the Bunnymen on stage at Sheffield City Hall
Echo and the Bunnymen on stage at Sheffield City Hall

The Bunnymen, featuring original members, frontman Ian McCulloch, in trademark shades, and stalwart sidekick guitarist Will Sergeant, were ushered onto the stage to Gregorian chants, eerie backdrop and a sea of dry ice, then proceeded to play for two hours from their huge and varied back catalogue.

The tour is loosely based on The Bunnymen’s 1985 Songs To Learn & Sing compilation, including all of the singles the band had released up to that point, starting off with debut Rescue from 1980.

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But there’s a whole lot more to please the fans young and old seduced by the Liverpool band’s sound over more than four decades.

Echo and the Bunnymen on stage at Sheffield City HallEcho and the Bunnymen on stage at Sheffield City Hall
Echo and the Bunnymen on stage at Sheffield City Hall

Set openers Going Up and All That Jazz from broodingly powerful second album Heaven Up Here plunged me straight back to my early 80s teenage years.

The 80s vibe carried on through the disco-tinged Never Stop and Zimbo, driven on by the fantastic drumming of Simon Finley, replacement for the much missed tour de force Pete de Freitas, who died 35 years ago.

A tecthy run-in between Mac and a less than reverential ‘Baldie’ culminated in him and his mate being thrown out, aptly enough during Show of Strength, another favourite from Heaven Up Here, which opened the second half.

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Yes, fans of a certain age can take comfort that there’s a 20-minute interval after 50 minutes, timed to perfection by Eno’s Baby’s On Fire and Television’s Marquee Moon being played over the PA.

Echo and the Bunnymen on stage at Sheffield City HallEcho and the Bunnymen on stage at Sheffield City Hall
Echo and the Bunnymen on stage at Sheffield City Hall

(As well as being a fantastic guitarist, Will has always had impeccable musical taste. He also revealed on Twitter that he had met up with Richard Hawley for a pint of Guinness at The Grapes before the gig).

Mac’s voice was kept well lubricated throughout by the hardest working man in rock, Matt, who acts as the frontman’s drinks waiter all night. He must have racked up some steps.

The 64-year-old frontman can still give a whippersnapper like Liam Gallagher a run for his money when it comes to bravado and self belief, introducing ‘greatest song ever written’, The Killing Moon, followed by ‘second best ever’ The Cutter, and ending the night with a a triumphant Ocean Rain.

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Nothing Lasts Forever, but the Bunnymen just continue to roll back the years.

Setlist

Going Up

All That Jazz

Flowers

Rescue

Brussels Is Haunted

Never Stop

All My Colours (Zimbo)

Bring On the Dancing Horses

Show of Strength

Over the Wall

Seven Seas

Nothing Lasts Forever / Walk on the Wild Side

Unstoppable Force

Bedbugs and Ballyhoo

The Killing Moon

The Cutter

Encore:

Lips Like Sugar

Ocean Rain