Echo & the Bunnymen, Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow
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Even the most visionary of Victorian architects could not have future-proofed for Ian McCulloch.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this round of shows at the old Kelvingrove bandstand has been the phenomenal sound quality: rich and full, wherever you were sitting, whatever the weather. But the gravelly vocals and Liverpudlian accent of the grizzled post-punk frontman would be a challenge for any sound system.
What wasn’t a challenge was the music: bass loud enough to wake the cadavers in the Glasgow University medical school; drums - or drum machine, I’m too far back to tell - that on All That Jazz sounded like artillery fire with a light show to match. “See you at the barricades, babe,” McCulloch sneered, and for a few minutes I was tempted to believe his introducing every song as “the best song ever written”.
As someone with very little preexisting knowledge of the band, I was surprised by just how much fun could be had with their music. There was big, unashamed, nonsensical pop song Seven Seas; a super creepy cover of the Doors’ People Are Strange; and Bring on the Dancing Horses - the first song on which the band started cutting the sound out to listen to the capacity crowd roar along.
But Over The Wall - a funereal dirge that seemed to last forever - was exactly what I was expecting; while All My Colours - a song with the chorus “zimbo, zimbo, zimbo” - nearly put me to sleep. And I’m pretty certain Bedbugs and Ballyhoo was an elaborate practical joke, since it’s not like it had a tune.
The band saved the big guns for the end, The Cutter just bettering The Killing Moon thanks to McCulloch’s mangling of the titular lyric.
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