Echo and the Bunnymen are not the “fookin’ best band in history” as claimed by singer and leader Ian McCulloch but are for sure the second best band from Liverpool ever. They were one of the great post punk bands appearing in the UK in the late 70’s and their music has always been aside, mixing cold and inventive sounds crafted by the great Will Sergeant on guitar and the dark and rich voice of Ian McCulloch, pleasing both fans of dark-mood and Doors-influenced blues music.
After the sad death of original drummer Pete de Freitas in a motorbike accident in the late 80’s, they band split and one could hear McCulloch’ voice on nice solo LP’s. However, as forever is a relative notion in rock’n’roll bands, Echo regrouped in 1997 with the excellent “Evergreen” LP. They went on making very good records since then and although original bass player Les Pattinson left a few years ago, seeing them live is always an interesting experience. Their best LP is “Ocean Rain” from 1984 and they played it live with a full strings’ orchestra last year in London at the Albert Hall. As I missed these shows, I was very excited to see them back in Paris playing in a row and in the original order their two first LP’s “Crocodiles” (1980) and “Heaven Up Here” (1981). So, here is the verdict :
++ The LP’s : I realized I did not know them that much and they are really great. All songs are sharp, very original and melodic as well. To (re)discover for sure;
++ The musicianship: Mac’s voice still as beautiful as ever and his healthy regime of booze and fags seems to still work ! The three other band members were playing with much enthusiasm and Will Sergeant’s guitar tricks are as impressive as ever;
+ and – : Mc Culloch’s personality oscillates between that of a beautiful poet and educated man and between that of a Liverpool football fan, talking clichés over clichés (kind of “Frenchmen are great lovers”…) in a difficult-to-understand scally accent. But it is true that, now 52, the guy still has a fascinating stage presence and I would say Liam Gallagher has invented nothing;
– : Almost no light on stage for the whole show ; why so?
— : No interaction whatsoever between McCulloch and Sergeant, not a word, nothing! Are they on speaking terms?
Overall, a very good show music-wise with an 3-song encore (“Nothing lasts forever” , “The Killing moon” and “Lips like sugar”). Here is a the great “Rescue” from “Crocodiles” for those who might have missed the first set… Here is a link as well coming from Magic rpm website.