Reverberations of rock ‘n’ roll past

Echo and the Bunnymen – the second-best band to have come out of Liverpool?

Echo and the Bunnymen_521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Echo and the Bunnymen_521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
They’ve been called by some aficionados the best band to ever emerge from Liverpool – and those saying it aren’t being tongue in cheek.
For British music fans too young to have witnessed Beatlemania in the flesh, but under the liberating spell of the late 1970s punk rock swirling sound and attitude explosion, Echo and the Bunnymen were the perfect heroes at the ideal time. Skirting the knife’s edge between detachment and passion and looking impeccably rock ‘n’ roll chic, their fusion of gloomy post-punk and clanging guitar-induced psychedelia created musical euphoria for a period of time in the 1980s when the term “post punk” was in vogue in the era before alternative and indie rock.
The group, formed by Liverpool mates vocalist Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and bass player Les Pattinson, supplemented by a drum machine, got together in 1978; but by 1980 and their debut album Crocodiles, they had added a human drummer, Pete de Freitas.
That release, along with the following year’s Heaven Up Here, propelled the band to stardom in England and cult status elsewhere, even though they were a ubiquitous presence in 1980s culture, with their songs being used in films like Pretty in Pink and The Lost Boys.

McCullough told an Australian reporter last year that the band had never felt a stigma about flying in the shadow of the Fab Four. “By the time I was aware of the importance of The Beatles to not only Liverpool but to everywhere else as well, I was into David Bowie and football. The Beatles’s shadow had long since gone,” he said.
And unlike so many 1990s compatriots, Echo and the Bunnymen have managed to emerge from their own daunting shadow to enjoy a fruitful second act after McCullough left the band in the late 1980s, leading to their initial breakup in 1993. The strong albums they’ve made since regrouping in 1997, such as Siberia and The Fountain, have added to their stature instead of chipping away at their legend.
“At the moment, we are again the best band treading the boards. It’s unbelievable,” McCullough said. “It’s thrilling me more than in 1981. People tend to go, ‘Oh yeah, that was when the Bunnymen were best.’ But we didn’t have the songs that we have now. We didn’t have ‘Nothing Lasts Forever,’ ‘The Killing Moon,’ ‘Ocean Rain … They weren’t written in 1981. We had two albums’ worth of stuff that we could play, and it wasn’t the greatest Bunnymen there is. Now is. I can’t wait for the next album, where we just go, ‘All of you bands who think you can rip us off…’ because they haven’t got the wit or the intellect.”
The revamped lineup, still featuring McCullough’s hushed vocals and Sergeant’s chiming guitars, proved its mettle five years ago when they performed in Tel Aviv. And now they’re back on a special “concept album” tour, which will see them perform their first two albums, Crocodile and Heaven Up Here, in their entirety on April 29 at Reading 3 in Tel Aviv.
Interestingly enough, the show doesn’t appear on the band’s official website.
Whether it’s an oversight or a backhanded nod to defuse the online campaigns by pro-Palestinian groups calling on the band to cancel the Tel Aviv show, fans can rest assured that the band is coming, according to a representative from the show’s promoters, Plug Productions.
Echo and the Bunnymen, April 29 at Reading 3 in Tel Aviv