Echo and the Bunnymen: a review from Peter Dennis

Echo and the Bunnymen / Jonathan Jackson
Northampton Derngate 20 October 2018

Award winning actor Jonathan Jackson is also one third of indie rock band Enation and his solo show this evening captures some of that bands alternative spirit. Stripped bare and acoustic his songs evidence a vulnerability that brings to mind Radiohead. Bathed in blue light he bravely bares his soul and a heart wrenching rendition of ‘Rock Bottom’ is a definite highlight.

Now into their fourth decade Echo and the Bunnymen have assured their place in the annuls of rock history but, on the strength of tonight’s performance they remain relevant and vital. Indeed without the Bunneymen it’s doubtful whether The Stone Roses, Oasis and The Killers would sound the same. Taking to the Derngate stage with a confident swagger the band are greeted with rapturous applause and launch into ‘Going Up’ from their 1980 debut album ‘Crocodiles’. Under a candelabra and encased in a cornucopia of colour they perform a career spanning, crowd pleasing set. With a back catalogue that’s an embarrassment of riches there’s no room for ‘The Back of Love’ or ‘People Are Strange’ but ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ segues into a nice cover of Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’.

Vocalist Ian McCulloch has lost none of his ice cool nonchalance and delivers lyrics in a manner which turns each word into a statement. Ever present at his side is incendiary guitarist Will Sergeant whose playing is often understated but each note is vital and to the point. The classics keep coming as ‘Seven Seas’, ‘Rust’ and ‘Dancing Horses’ follow in quick succession. ‘The Cutter’ precedes three well deserved encores: a majestic ‘Killing Moon’, a soulful ‘Lips Like Sugar’ and, as a perfect swansong, the title track from their 1984 masterpiece ‘Ocean Rain’.

A long overdue return to Northampton from Echo and the Bunnymen…and it was certainly worth the wait.

Peter Dennis.

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