ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN + ERICA NOCKALLS LIVE AT THE BRIGHTON DOME, MARCH 3 2024

Fog bound first gig in a decade sees 80s indie heroes return in atmospheric style

Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media

With back lighting that would suit a metalcore band and more fog than one might find on the Tyne (none of which was in fact mine), Echo & The Bunnymen returned to Brighton to play their first gig in a decade and as such, pretty much guaranteed a sell-out crowd. On a wet Sunday night, with a queue of excited punters who mostly looked like they’d followed the band, like myself, since day one, we settled in for a night of hits, fan favourites and a couple of curve balls. 

Up first though and according to her Facebook status, thanks to the most expensive taxi journey of her life, we got Erica Nockalls on stage bang on time at 8:00pm. 

Erica Nockalls

That this, only the second night of the tour, nearly didn’t happen for Erica, would be an understatement. The slightly totalled front end of her car could have easily put paid to the set as well as a trip to the local A&E. Thankfully both her and Jean-Charles Versari escaped unscathed (albeit a little shaken up) and the show went ahead (courtesy of that most expensive taxi ride ever). 

The music from the duo and the determination to play definitely won over some of the people in the venue. A ripple of polite applause early on turned to rounds of applause and cheers as the duo progressed with their mix of atmospheric and thought-provoking pieces. Both musicians, Jean-Charles on guitar and Erica on violin, sing and the mix of vocal styles definitely worked well with the dark and sometimes sombre material on offer. 

With looped beats and drum fills, the music looped and swirled its way around the room, making the punters who had settled early sit up and pay attention to the music. Her 2021 album ‘Dark Music from a Warm Place’, as I discovered on the way home in the car is a tough listen to begin with but goes from agonizing about life and being in the worst place through a path of redemption before finding hope and the most positive of futures as the album progresses. That Erica was able to convey this and get it recorded warrants a round of applause from me and whilst the darker vibe, thankfully, didn’t manifest itself on stage as a support act, I’d love to hear more of what this talented musician has to offer in the future.

Echo & The Bunnymen 

After a shortish break, the lights dimmed (and never came back up), the back lighting, the sort that Bring Me The Horizon or Black Veil Brides would kill for, was switched on and the dry ice and smoke machines switches were set to “THE LOT”. Once the front half of the crowd and most of the stage had disappeared in a haze that would please the entire Sisters of Mercy fan base, Echo & The Bunnymen came on. 

The current Bunnymen lineup features just two of the original members. Vocalist Ian ‘Mac’ McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant. All of the promo material features the pair, with band shots seemingly in short supply. There are however an additional four musicians, comfortably perched in the fog playing keyboards, drums, bass and rhythm guitar. If any of them got a nod then I missed it which is slightly ironic as at one point, one of the techs comes on stage to help Mac out with his microphone \ ear monitors and gets a name check from the singer which resulted in a chorus of “turn the lights on” from members of the crowd who hadn’t appreciated they’d come for a smokey lightshow. 

Whilst the smoke and light made photography one of the most difficult events I’ve ever had to cover, this was the first time I’d had the pleasure of seeing the band live (yes I know… but better late than never) so every song for me was an experience and each note was a moment to be savoured. 

The Brighton show, as mentioned the second of the tour titled ‘Songs to Learn and Sing’, gave us some 17 tracks that really focussed on the ones we all know so well. Hardly surprising given their record of twenty top 20 hits and nine top 20 albums over the course of their career. There was no new material from an as yet unreleased album but instead we got two unreleased songs although I’m told they are firm live favourites so not unknown to the faithful who do make the time to go and see the band when they tour.

‘Going Up’ and ‘All That Jazz’ both from 1980’s ‘Crocodiles’ album were cranked out in rapid succession and we got a little bit of chat from Mac who genuinely seemed happy to be back in Brighton performing for the packed crowd in the Dome. ‘Flowers’ and ‘Rescue’ followed before one of those ‘unreleased’ tracks made an appearance. Unreleased is perhaps a stretch as the song certainly has been around a while and does in fact get played a lot live so whilst we might not be able to find it on Spotify, ‘Brussels Is Haunted’, is well known enough for the fans I was stood next to to cheer and dance along to it with smiles on their faces. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser so come on lads… get it out there already! 

When they got to classic ‘Bring On The Dancing Horses’, Mac announced that this would be their last track in the first set. Now I can imagine Napalm Death perhaps needing a break after 35 minutes of extreme metal but Echo & The Bunnymen err on the side of mellow grooves, so the breather came as a bit of a shock, especially when the Dome staff didn’t then rock up in the aisles with any ice creams for sale. Opportunity missed methinks. 

The second half recommenced some 15 minutes later with ‘Show Of Strength’ and ‘Seven Seas’ but it was the joy of hearing ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ (from 1997’s ‘Evergreen’ album) which truly made my evening. The song holds a special place in my heart, not least for its connection to the final Mark & Lard Breakfast Show on Radio 1 before the pair moved to the afternoon slot all those years ago. “Whoooooooo” you might say, but that’s another gag entirely! 

The rendition also included a segue into Lou Reed’s ’Walk On The Wild Side’ before jumping back into the main song to close. Check out the patchy, fan shot (me) video below. Following on we got ‘Unstoppable Force’ which I’ve never heard before, but I understand to genuinely be quite a new one. Again, people around me seemed to dig it so it gives hope for new original material to follow at some point.

The previous night in Norwich had seen the night close in style with ‘The Killing Moon’, ‘The Cutter’ and an encore of ‘Lips Like Sugar’ and ‘Ocean Rain’. Hopes were high. Whilst the first two were delivered in fine fettle, the encore was a strange affair. The delay before Mac reappeared was considerable, to the point where you felt someone had said “No, you need to go back out.” Whether he was having a bad day or just felt like enough was enough, I have no idea but a sombre ‘Lips..’ then saw him and the band depart the stage for the final time and it’s fair to say the assembled crowd who, if truth be told, had waited a few years to see the band back in Brighton were a tad vocal about the abrupt finish.

For me… hearing ‘Nothing…’ live for the very first time. Well, that’s the thing memories are made of. So I’ll take that as a win.

Echo & The Bunnymen setlist:

Set 1:
‘Going Up’ 
‘All That Jazz’ 
‘Flowers’
‘Rescue’
‘Brussels Is Haunted’
‘Never Stop’
‘All My Colours’ (aka ‘Zimbo’)
‘Bring On The Dancing Horses’

Set 2:
‘Show Of Strength’
‘Seven Seas’
‘Nothing Lasts Forever’/’Walk On The Wild Side’ (Lou Reed cover)
‘Unstoppable Force’
‘Bedbugs And Ballyhoo’
‘Heads Will Roll’
‘The Killing Moon’
‘The Cutter’ 
(encore)
‘Lips Like Sugar’

Echo & The Bunnymen:

Ian McCulloch – vocals
Will Sergeant – guitar
Stephen Brannan – bass
Simon Finley – drums
Pete Reilly – guitar
Mike Smith – keyboards

 

About Author

 
Categories
Live GigNewsPhotosVideo
EXTREME’S UNMATCHED MUSICAL MASTERY AND ELECTRIFYING STAGE PRESENCE: A DEFINING FORCE IN ROCK HISTORY LIVE AT MARS MUSIC HALL, HUNTSVILLE, AL
EXTREME’S UNMATCHED MUSICAL MASTERY AND ELECTRIFYING STAGE PRESENCE: A DEFINING FORCE IN ROCK HISTORY LIVE AT MARS MUSIC HALL, HUNTSVILLE, AL

EXTREME’S UNMATCHED MUSICAL MASTERY AND ELECTRIFYING STAGE PRESENCE: A DEFINING FORCE IN ROCK HISTORY LIVE AT MARS MUSIC HALL, HUNTSVILLE, AL

Photo Credit: Myglobalmind

Imminence - The Black

Honeymoon Suite – Alive Review

Sonata Arctica – Clear Cold Beyond Review

The Red Clay Strays’ Debut UK Headline Tour Completely Sold Out; All Shows Upgraded!

Slash Teams Up with Chris Stapleton for New Track “Oh Well” from Upcoming Album

RELATED BY

G-TQ58R0YWZE