A celebration of 40 years in the industry that demonstrates the band’s utter timelessness.
Few bands can match the rich history of the Barrowland Ballroom quite like Echo and the Bunnymen. The night is appropriately nostalgic, with a sold-out crowd jostling in anticipation of the Liverpudlians’ 40 year anniversary celebration. Four decades of consistent musicianship is impressive enough, but the wide range of faces scattered throughout the Ballroom highlight the timelessness of the Bunnymen’s sound.
Tonight is the second of a two-night stay for the band, and frontman Ian is practically glowing beneath several layers of black clothing. The set begins in explosive fashion with Going Up, the opening track of 1980’s Crocodiles, sending the already febrile crowd to fever-pitch. This electric energy carries forward throughout the entirety of the gig, including two encores that somehow top one another.
Amongst a setlist dense with classic anthems, the band find space for a brand-new track in Brussels is Haunted. Despite an eight-year hiatus since Echo and the Bunnymen’s last studio output, the song is solid (if a little uninspired) and shows that the group still have that post-punk magic about them.
Bring on the Dancing Horses, All My Colours (Zimbo), and Seven Seas make for an incredible run midway through the setlist. Frontman Ian takes several opportunities to step away from the mic, letting the audience recite his lyrics word-for-word in an ecstasy that only live music can bring. With such a weighty back catalogue to their name, some tracks in the celebration have to be truncated and merged into a series of medleys. This is not for want of padding – the setlist covers an impressive 18 songs (not including snippets), highlighting cuts from all the band’s various eras.
Saving the (self-admitted) best for last, the Bunnymen return to the stage after a brief break to perform a trio of iconic tracks. Tonight’s version of The Cutter is one of the strongest in recent memory, with Ian’s vocals reaching notes that put his contemporaries to shame. He then announces that up next is “the best song ever written”, a claim that is hard to argue once the enthralling opening chords of The Killing Moon echo throughout the venue.
Following a gorgeous rendition of Ocean Rain, the band wave a final goodbye to the still-buzzing audience and make their exit. The atmosphere spills out with the crowd into a bitterly cold Glasgow night – thankfully, it was the kind of gig that could render a blizzard imperceptible.