Live Review: Echo and the Bunnymen @ Rock City

Benedict Watson reviews Echo and the Bunnymen's take on Nottingham's Rock City.

After announcing this tour all the way back in June 2020, finally it was time to see indie legends Echo and the Bunnymen grace the stage at Rock City. Both of my parents are dedicated Bunnymen fans, and their hits had provided a large portion of the soundtrack to my childhood, so this was a gig that I had been eagerly anticipating for a long time.

Those who came down early were treated to a DJ set from a huge name in the music industry – Alan McGee. The co-founder of indie record label Creation Records and manager of the likes of Oasis, The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, he certainly has pedigree. However, I felt that he could’ve done more to make his set seem more special and emphasise his star-studded past. Rather than being on stage, he hid away in the top left corner of Rock City, and if you hadn’t seen the tour poster, you could easily be forgiven for thinking it was just the resident Rock City DJ. Nevertheless, the crowd enjoyed a set which clearly catered to the older audience, with hits such as Starman receiving the best reaction.

Time for another little moan here. Having clearly emphasised on their Instagram that morning that this was an early show with a set time of 8pm, Echo and the Bunnymen kept the crowd waiting for nearly half an hour before finally entering the stage. Maybe something unforeseen had happened, but if not, then why make everyone get there earlier than needed?

''The setlist was laden with their biggest hits''

Anyway, their set was well worth the wait. They took a few songs to really get going, but the addictive guitar intro of fifth song Rescue really sparked the set alight. As expected from a tour which was billed as ‘celebrating 40 years of magical songs’, the setlist was laden with their biggest hits, with Bring On the Dancing Horses following on from Rescue. Lips Like Sugar was the perfect end to the main set, a real singalong for the Rock City crowd.

The stage lighting was puzzling, with a blue smoke making it difficult to see much of the band. Given that only two of the on-stage musicians are actually in the band, this could’ve been an attempt to hide those who aren’t in the band, whilst my parents felt that it was a way of hiding the wrinkles of the ageing performers! Nevertheless, it was frustrating not to see the whole band at all times.

The encore started with my personal highlight of the night – The Cutter. It created a real sense of jubilation in the crowd – a crowd who given its mature demographic could well have included many people who were at their first gig since the pandemic. Number 1 hit The Killing Moon seemed like the natural conclusion of the night, but after another short break off-stage, the Bunnymen returned for a final song – Ocean Rain. A more sombre end than The Killing Moon would’ve been, but the crowd were glad to hear as many songs as possible.

A fantastic performance including songs from their entire career, Echo and the Bunnymen certainly proved that they have still got what it takes to delight a crowd, and with a sneak preview included of unreleased song Brussels Is Haunted, they could still have plenty more to give to indie music fans.

Benedict Watson


Edited by: Amrit Virdi

Featured image and in-article images and videos courtesy of Echo and the Bunnymen via Facebook and YouTube.