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Echo and the Bunnymen

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
1 star
When Liverpool's most grandiose post-punk outfit released their fourth
album in 1984, it was advertised as the greatest ever made. It wasn't,
although it's collection of string-laden epics was the last time the
original four Bunnymen sounded so special. To hear Ocean Rain live,
then, complete with an all-female string sextet bolstering original
vocalist Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and a fine young band,
should have been major. As it was, despite the music's dramatic
splendour, an overly-refreshed McCulloch steered us into chaos.

During the first 'greatest hits' set, McCulloch apologises for being “a
bit shaky...one point off the ten.” Over the next two hours the score
gets considerably lower. Like a bad comedian, McCulloch threatens to
sing Donald, Where's Your Troosers, and does unlikely impressions of
Jim Morisson impersonating Sid James.

Ocean Rain is ushered in by Silver's triumphant flourish, and for a few
minutes the album's elegant majesty sounds reborn. The band, led by
Sergeant's sublime minimalist textures, are heroic, and the sole star
accompanying this review is theirs. McCulloch's patter, alas, becomes
increasingly offensive. Why introduce The Killing Moon as “the greatest
song ever written” if you're going to talk rubbish throughout?

The album's title track collapses before it starts. McCulloch, by now a
sneering, nasty drunk, walks offstage. On returning he mutters
something about receiving bad news. If that is the case, the show
shouldn't have happened. During a second apologetic stab at The Killing
Moon, McCulloch ambles across to Sergeant, berating him for something
he apparently didn't know about. After lobbing a bottle at his
band-mate of more than thirty years, McCulloch slopes off, truly all at
sea.

The Herald, September 30th 2011

ends

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