Home arrow News arrow Echo and The Bunnymen, and me.
18 02 2018

Main Menu
About Us
Contact Us


Echo and The Bunnymen, and me. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bobby Blue   
17 04 2013
ImageIt was Friday afternoon, which meant double PE and I'd forgotten my kit. Normally that wouldn't bother me, but detention is no good when you need to go into town to buy records and look at girls with your mates after school. However, I had a solution. Three weeks earlier I'd lost my bag and when I went to lost property in the secretary's office to collect my handed in text books, I'd noticed various school regulation football shirts and shorts in the collection box.

So I returned to reclaim some dirty bottoms and tops, that didn't belong to me, to save me from extra curricular activities. But in amongst the mud, crud and a school tie with stained blood was an LP. A twelve-inch piece of slightly scratched vinyl, with four cool looking blokes staring back at me on its front cover. As I paused to inspect it, the headmaster's secretary asked me if the album was mine, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss and ten seconds later it was.

I got changed for games and put the LP in my locker without any of my mates noticing. When I got home I put the record on the turntable and instantly realised that it was the music I'd been waiting all my short life to hear. The pounding drumming, hypnotic bass lines, twisted guitars and clever lyrics combined perfectly. I was smitten and Crocodiles by Echo & The Bunnymen became the soundtrack for my final year at school.

I'd previously lived and breathed The Clash, but after London Calling got me through two years of bullying and my parent's divorce, the follow up, Sandinista, just confused me and I needed something new.

A few months after being gifted Crocodiles, I was on a ferry going to Holland and I met a girl called Angela. Her favourite band was The Bunnymen too. I was off round the Netherlands by bicycle with Simon and she was heading for Germany on an exchange trip, but we swapped addresses. Two months later I went down to her native London to visit her and after a shared can of Guinness we lost our virginity together to Heaven Up Here, the quintet's second long player.

In between popping my cherry and biking round Holland, I went down to the capital to see the lads play two shows at The Royal Albert Hall. For those who don't know, the opening night of these gigs was legendary. We arrived without tickets and met Pete (the band's drummer) outside. He sorted us out with free entry and a even couple of joint's worth of hash, which we smoked in Hyde Park and entered the beautiful Victorian venue feeling pretty damn pleased with ourselves.

However, we soon realised the tickets he got us were for the top floor. At any normal venue being upstairs wouldn't have been a major issue, but the top tier at The Royal Albert meant being about eight storeys up. After two songs we decided that there was no atmosphere and decided to try and get in further down. We went down one level and were met by a security guard who chased us down to the next floor, so we legged it down another level for the same thing to happen again.

Initially there was about six of us trying our luck, but others followed and by the time we hit ground zero running we were somehow fifty strong. Luckily just as we arrived at the main bottom floor door a girl decided to open it to go out to the bog and we flooded in knocking the security, quite literally, for six. Initially, the shocked bouncers couldn't do anything and there was such a furore as we entered that everyone in the audience turned round and even the band looked up mid song to see what was going on.

At the end of that tune, The Bunnymen were told to get off stage and the bouncers went round checking tickets and throwing people out. Thankfully, we somehow managed to stay at ground level and the lads returned to the stage with a head of steam built up from the interruption and launched vehemently into an amazing set which had the crowd on the ropes and lapping it up.

When Will's guitar was wild and ferocious, Pete's drumming matched it effortlessly. Les' bass lines probed and poked providing the foundations for everyone else to go off in musical tangents as he stood motionless, effortlessly brilliant at one at his instrument, while Mac's virtuoso vocals and stage presence made me consider whether a cooler crooner had ever graced the world of rock.

The band lined up on the lip of the stage in a row as four equals, with no member taking centre stage. This was musical communism I was later told. Everyone equal in song writing royalties, in say on the band decisions and even in on-stage position. One member, one vote. The girls all wanted to shag them and the all lads wanted to be them, but most of all they were brilliant at playing and writing songs, it was a faultless scenario.

With about 50p between us, we jumped the midnight overnight mail train back to the north east, hid in the bogs when the guard approached and then walked home from the station as the June sun came up still buzzing from the gig eight hours after it finished. We nearly got caught stealing bottles of milk on the way home from a newsagent, but he couldn't catch us. Two days later the NME mentioned in its review of the Albert Hall show that the interruption was the turning point of the gig and that it was one of the best Bunnymen live performances ever. On reading this me and my mates thought we were mint and that we'd played our part in making the show so good.

Excited by our experience we decided that following bands around the country was the way forward, despite being sixteen and having no money. Three days later we hitched down to Manchester, to see our other favourites, New Order, play at the now world famous Hacienda. It was class, but no Bunnymen.

Two months later Mac and the lads announced two shows in a day at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon and the amazing following that the band had took over the town. The gigs sold out quicker than any other show in the famous theatre's history and the music press announced The Bunnymen were bigger than Mr William Shakespeare himself. We sat in the park on a sunny Sunday waiting for the gig and the festival like atmosphere saw complete strangers brought together chatting and drinking the afternoon away with one thing in common, their love of the Bunnymen, while Americans visiting the tourist trap looked on very confused. I bought the EATB fanzine and after devouring the pages I made a mental note to myself that fan produced literature was something I'd like to be involved in one day.

Unusual gigs in random places were the norm for the lads by now. They'd started their previous tour which ended at The Albert Hall on The Outer and Inner Hebrides playing to fishermen and fans in village halls. Their followers hitched the length and breadth of the UK and island hopped around the beautiful land and seascapes of Skye and Lewis, sleeping in tents with local whiskey and women to keep them warm at night.

Such tours helped develop a strong bond between the band and fans, highlighted by guitarist Will Sergeant, who stopped playing mid song at York Racecourse to violently attack a bouncer with the full force of the body of his Fender Telecaster, because he was man handling a female fan. But that incident apart, the band were often seen drinking and smoking with fans before and after smaller gigs, which gave everyone the feeling that we were all in it together.

At one gig in Gloucester, Pete made sure we back stage for the first time because we were sleeping in the station until the first train showed up. I was helping myself to beers when McCulloch tapped me on the shoulder and said: "Did you ask for that?" "Erm, no," I replied. "Well ask!" "OK, can we have some of your beer please?" "Yes, and who the fuck are you." Ten minutes later after talking about football and music, he shouted over to their manager, "Put these lads on the guest list for the rest of the tour and give them back stage passes." This was typical Mac, arrogant as hell one minute, but gentle and warm under his hard exterior.

Another highlight of my days following the lads around was being right at the front at Newcastle City Hall. I was hemmed in, unable to move and sweating my bollocks off. I kept shouting at Mac between songs to give me a drink of his beer and he was just smirking to himself, but eventually he fed me his ale Sangria style and the crowd cheered! I've got the bootleg tape of that gig and you can hear him urging me to lift myself onto the front of the stage as the band kick into Over The Wall.

In the years that followed The Bunnymen took a year out, lost their direction, Pete died in a motor cycle accident and Les left, came back and left again, but they kept on going. After twenty five years in the industry they've somehow and quite rightly become very influential to many up and coming new bands therefore back in vogue and songs like The Killing Moon have become classics for music fans from teenage to old age.

So, I guess asking me to write a review involving Echo & The Bunnymen is a bit like opening a massive can of worms full of tangents, twists and turns. I grew up listening to the Bunnymen and now here I am with my son watching them at The Evolution Festival in Newcastle. I haven't even forced them down his throat.

On this particular occasion the crowd were there for the all day party and generally were not really Bunnymen fans, but Mac and Will still showed their class. I guess I'm still looking to relive the sensation I felt when Will came back on stage and went off on one at The Albert Hall, but watching them do The Killing Moon with my son at my side was still a seminal moment in my life. Who said Nothing Ever Lasts Forever?

Next >


To see the original splash page click here.

© Floatation Suite 2005