May 23, 2022

Echo & The Bunnymen
Leeds

Nothing Ever Lasts Forever
Live at Leeds O2 Academy 2nd Feb 2022

As the closing song goes, “Nothing Ever Lasts Forever”, and the physical impact of performing on a sixty-two year old caught up with The Bunnymen in Leeds. After a Covid-inflicted two year hiatus from performing, the second night of their tour was a bit of a surprise and the show ended after three-quarters of an hour, with Ian McCulloch leaving the stage unwell (apparently back problems).

This was a tour to celebrate 40 years-plus as a band (they formed in 1978) and mathematicians were distressed, not only by it not being exactly 40 years, but also that there was a decade-long pause for the band. But what a catalogue; really something to celebrate and that was what the evening was about. With an astonishing opening salvo of four great albums, followed by a number of good albums, the band could have turned in two or three strong nights without repeating songs. Even in the Noughties they could turn out good new material (try Flowers or Siberia).

A crowd of the usual suspects were ready for the hits and well-known songs and that is exactly what they got – Going Up, Show Of Strength, All That Jazz, Rescue, All My Colours, Seven Seas, and so on. Heavy on those eighties favourites. Will Sergeant’s guitar was all you could want it to be – opening with a glissander creating that special sound and carrying on in that frame, with his sweetly psychedelic carefully considered sound colouring proceedings. Mac stood centre-stage, black glasses on, dyed black hair, overcoat, delivering undemonstratively. With hindsight, it is easy to say it seemed run-of-the-mill, but it did. Songs were performed more or less as you’d expect, with no special frisson from the crowd, no hello from Mac, and nothing to make it distinctively live.

The band are now Will and Ian, with keys, drums, bass and rhythm guitar hidden in the dark, and it may be hard to make it new after all this time. Perhaps the venue sucked the life out (it does that). Or maybe Ian was just feeling really rough. After Bedbugs and Ballyhoo, Ian darted offstage, surprising the band, who followed. He reappeared, they got through Nothing Lasts Forever and Ian disappeared again before a confused and worried crowd were told there were ‘medical issues’.

Here’s hoping Mac’s problems don’t continue to cause him problems and we’ll chalk the lack of live excitement down to a struggling performer. I can struggle through a day at work while feeling poorly but no-one expects me to be full of energy or swagger while I do it. If the setlist we got and the songs that were to come were to get some electricity and verve, what an evening that would be.