Echo & The Bunnymen performing their Ocean Rain Tour at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Tuesday 12th September 2023.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

With the summer festival season coming to an end, Echo & The Bunnymen announced a headline tour of just four UK dates and the Royal Concert Hall was the venue chosen for the opening night on Tuesday.

The band, or those two members who are still around, the historically acerbic Ian McCulloch and the affable lead guitarist Will Sergeant treated the packed crowd to a first half set that for many a 80s post punk was absolutely delightful.

McCulloch stood on the stage in almost total darkness where he remained for most of the set, with the crowd getting occasional glimpses of his trademark dark glasses, the set was opened with three songs from their 1980 album Crocodile. Going Up and All That Jazz showed that the band were still tight, whilst the riff of Rescue was as crystal clear as ever.

They delivered a buoyant Bedbugs And Ballyhoo which found the band pushing its dance ability appeal to the max, and the heavy drum beat that rings through All My Colours (Zimba) was still hypnotic. Nothing Lasts Forever, the first single released after the band reformed in 1997 was mashed up with Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side.

Bringing the first set to a close with a rocking heavy version of Never Stop and the electric track Bring On The Dancing Horses saw McCulloch urge the audience to sing along to the chorus and the crowd were happy to oblige.

For the second set, they were joined by The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra to celebrate their seminal album, 1984’s Ocean Rain, played in its entirety. Arguably one of the band’s best works, they made short time of building the energy and intensity of the music. McCulloch’s arresting vocals were on display throughout and set closer Ocean Rain was a beautiful and mellow tune that resonated with the crowd.

For the encore the crowd were treated to Lips Like Sugar and the song that everyone had been waiting for, The Cutter which still stands as one of the most recognizable songs of the 80s with its remarkably imaginative lyrics.