The inimitable Ian McCulloch and fellow founding member and guitarist Will Sergeant are taking the Bunnymen out for their regular jaunt around the UK in a proper old-school tour under the banner of ‘Songs To Learn And Play’, which sees the legendary Scouse post-punk jangly pop sulks perform some of their biggest hits and some rather deep cuts to an appreciative audience that is packed into the Great Hall on a school night.

As the stage is bathed in enough dry ice to worry the Sisters Of Mercy at the peak of their powers This line up of Bunnymen amble onto the University stage to enthusiastic applause and proceed to get down to business. I’ll admit to breaking my own code by seeing some setlists of previous nights of this tour and they’ve pretty much stuck to the script give or take a track or two and tonight ‘Going Up’ kicked off the first half of proceedings. The mix was crisp and clear as McCulloch stood in the centre of the stage with his trade mark glasses leaning on his mic stand as he sang he doesn’t move a great deal – I’d worry he’d fall off stage because there’s no way he can see further than his hand so thick is the smoke.

To his right is Sergeant swapping guitars from one vintage classic to another depending on the song and its needs and playing his sparse but poignant lead breaks but the music is absolutely spot on and the balance is superb ‘All That Jazz’ sounded really good and the audience felt it too. Stephen Brannan – bass
Simon Finley – drums, Pete Reilly on guitar and Mike Smith – keyboards really added to the sound and proved to be an exceptional band. ‘Flowers’ provided a mellow moment that is perfect for the band’s minimalist backlight and shadow show it creates as the silhouette of Mac has always worked really well. The iconic guitar intro of ‘Rescue’ punctures the air. Of the songs in the First half of the set ‘Zimbo’ worked really well and sounded superb. but after the one-two of ‘Never Stop’ and ‘Bring On The Dancing Horses’ it was time for the half time team talk.

The spread of tracks was really good tonight and after forty-five minutes the band were to take a short break which seemed a little odd it’s not like they’ve just spent the first half charging around the stage like the youth team and needed a half-time team talk and orange and a brief rub down from the physio before going back out fo the second half but hey what do I know maybe they did.

Yet more dry ice is belched onto the stage and the second half is underway with a sprightly ‘Show Of Strength’. By the time we hit ‘Seven Seas’ my tiny brain is racing with memories of being in school and hearing the song for the first time and loving that bass line and string arrangement. This was and still is the sound of a perfectly arranged guitar pop song and The Bunnymen were the masters of it. ‘Nothing Lasts Forever turned into Walk On The Wildside’ and I was taken back to buying the comeback single in Woolworths of all places. time flies and whilst Woolies might be gone but the Bunnymen are still going strong and the audience is in fine voice and Mac seems to appreciate the backing vocals. His banter is a mumbling word soup for most as they either can’t understand his accent or he’s mumbling or the dry mic is so low most are shouting what? Not that Mac gives a fuck anyway but some of his banter is audible and makes me giggle. There is time for some more humour as the band cocked up the intro on ‘Unstoppable Force’ and have to restart the song which shows the human side of this live performance.

The second half is brought to an end with a hattrick of classics from ‘Bedbugs’ followed by the classic ‘Killing Moon’ and ended with the show-stopping genre topping ‘Cutter’ and we were done for the second half which led to a brief stage exit before returning to play through a blindingly good ‘Lips Like Sugar’ and then they were done with no t’ra or adios and there was no second encore tonight as the house lights went up and the entertained Cardiff audience made for the exit after being guided through another magnificent trip through the very best of Jangly post-punk guitar pop courtesy of the peerless Echo and The Bunnymen. Can we do this all again in say, another twelve months time after a new studio album please Mac? Ta very much fella its been wonderful. Always a pleasure and never a chore.

Author: Dom Daley

Echo & The Bunnymen have released the vinyl reissues of their first four albums (‘Crocodiles’, ‘Heaven Up Here’, ‘Porcupine’ and ‘Ocean Rain’) on heavyweight black vinyl and limited-edition coloured vinyl. This is the first time the albums have been available on vinyl since their initial release in 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984 respectively.

ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN were formed in Liverpool in ’78 with Ian McCulloch on vocals and rhythm guitar, Will Sergeant on lead guitar and Les Pattinson on bass. They were soon joined by Pete De Freitas on drums and the rest, as they say, is history.

After releasing their 7” single ‘Pictures on My Wall’ on Zoo Records in ’79. ‘Pictures on My Wall’ would appear on their debut album ‘Crocodiles’ in 1980. The Release saw the band quickly gain a reputation amongst the post-punk bands, ‘Crocodiles’ also got great press which was an oddity at the time. The album has a great energy and Sergent’s guitar clash still sounds fantastic from opener ‘Going Up’ right through to jolting ‘Happy Death Men’ that closed the album’s ten tracks. There is a spark as the band thumped out tracks like ‘All That Jazz’ with its distorted guitar and ratatat military drum beat. the high points of the album were probably ‘Rescue’ which still sounds fresh to this day Forty years on! it has stood the test of time.

I checked through my collection and the albums got the special CD treatment for their 25th Birthday but never a vinyl reproduction until now that is. ‘Crocodiles’ had the classic Bunnymen style and swagger that’s still the band’s heartbeat today. Youthful enthusiasm.

The band followed the album with the release of the ‘Shine So Hard’ EP in 1981, recorded live at the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton, before releasing their second studio album ‘Heaven Up Here’ in the same year. It went Top 10, winning the 1981 NME Best Album award in the process. The growing confidence and probably the band technical proficiency meant they could be more adventurous with the sound of the songs and from the off, ‘Show Of Strength’ was more complex rhythmically. Take nothing away from the band’s debut but this was certainly a step forward. The band also managed to pull off having the record produced by Hugh Jones. ‘Over The Wall’ was an altogether much darker song with the deep synth sounds leading the way. I always thought of the band as a very rhythmical band and often the drums and bass would lead the track none more so than the title track where Phil De Freitas was on fire driving the rest of the band to weave some musical magic.

The band really went overground in 1983 with the release of their third album ‘Porcupine’, produced by Ian Broudie. ‘Porcupine’ provided their best chart performances, with ‘The Cutter’ reaching #8 in the singles charts and Porcupine finishing #2 in the album charts before being certified Gold. Tracks like ‘The Cutter’, ‘Back Of Love’ truly defined the band’s style and became signature tunes and remain staples of their live set to this day. It’s the hits from ‘Porcupine’ mixing the band’s post-punk and love of Bowie the band was stretching themselves to the max making song arrangments their peers weren’t. It was melancholic pop at its best. There were bleak arrangements created with synths and samples that were so exciting. I love the rush I had from listening to ‘Clay’ back in the mid-80s and I still got that same feeling today with McCullochs unique and instantly recognisable vocals these rereleases on vinyl are like a breath of fresh air and still sound fantastic. I’ll admit I’d not played these albums in their entirety for a few years.

1984 brought the fourth studio album ‘Ocean Rain’, regarded by many as the band’s classic-sounding record (with the strings). Recorded in Liverpool and Paris, the band used a 35-piece orchestra with award-winning composer Adam Peters scoring the strings. Something the band did better than any of their contemporaries. The cover art is the stunning Carnglaze Caverns in Cornwall that were taken by photographer Brian Griffin, (who also shot their three previous album covers). ‘Ocean Rain’ was considered by many to be the record the band was building up to from their debut only a few years earlier, (to be fair four really strong albums in four years, not something that happens often if at all these days) this was where they wanted to be and had finally arrived at the top table with an album to challenge any other band making music in the mid-80s.

The use of strings made the band stand out and do it better than any of their contemporaries the main difference between The Bunnymen was they had the songs to go with the style and from the off ‘Silver’ was a great lead single to showcase what they were all about. It still sounds big with the strings punching in. Two more big singles were released from the album after ‘Silver’. ‘Seven Seas’ and the anthemic ‘The Killing Moon’, (which reached #9 in the UK singles chart) and gives you goosebumps, even to this day it’s a song I can never tire of hearing.

It’s hard to believe it’s forty years give or take that these albums came out. They’re sonically timeless albums and it’s the supporting cast of musicians that helped make the Bunnymen the band they were, from the strings to the talents of the likes of Ian Brodie and Johns bringing something different to their respective albums. The videos were creative as well from ‘The Killing moon’ to the striking ‘Seven Seas’ a time when MTV was everything and these videos burnt their mark onto a young impressionable kid’s brain. Hearing these records again in their entirety without bells and whistles added but keeping it as originally intended with just a classic polish and rerelease on 180gm is perfect.

Anyone who remembers the 80s alternative pop/rock scene of Icicle Works, Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Early U2, Spear Of Destiny, and Waterboys to name a few; will look back fondly at these four albums and nod quietly to themselves and remember how bloody good they were/are. Indulge yourself in the creative, early period of one of England’s finest bands from the 80s. When bands were left to grow and develop – something that’s very clear on these four LPs which goes to show how rich our musical heritage is and how damn good Echo And The Bunnymen are. Replace your old copies or catch up on some classic albums.

Buy the albums Here

Author: Dom Daley







Futurama, the legendary post-punk festival is back after 40 years and takes place at the Invisible Wind factory / Make Arts Centre and Ten Streets Social in Liverpool over two days, 3rd and 4th of April 2021.

The Futuramas were a series of ground-breaking and innovative post punk and electronic music festivals in the late 70’s and early 80’s. They were the brainchild of one-man, John Keenan, a legendary Leeds promoter who has put thousands of bands on over 40 years at his famous F Club. In 1979, he decided to do a 2-day festival at the Queens Hall in Leeds and put on all of his favourite up and coming bands and curated the first alternative indoor festival in Britain. Nearly all of Britain’s most important and influential independent bands played these festivals and many of them went onto considerable success in Britain, Europe, and the US. The roll call reads like the greatest who’s who of alternative music and they include Joy Division and New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, PiL, Killing Joke, Teardrop Explodes, Bauhaus, The Fall, The SmithsGang of Four, Sisters of Mercy, Theatre Of Hate, The Psychedelic Furs & even a fledgling U2. The Futurama festivals caught the zeitgeist perfectly and not only put on many female fronted bands, including Siouxsie and the Banshees, Young Marble Giants, Bow Wow Wow & Altered Images, but also many of the new wave of electronic & synthesizer acts including Soft Cell, Cabaret Voltaire, OMD, Simple Minds, Clock DVA & Vice Versa who later became ABC.

The post-punk era still casts an enormous influential shadow over contemporary music, making the timing perfect for the festival to return, combining both legendary acts from the festival’s history with the absolute best in up-and-coming talent.

pic by William Ellis –

Bringing Futurama full circle, Peter Hook & The Light are confirmed to perform Joy Division’s set from Futurama 1979 in full, promising to be an absolute thrill for fans of the iconic band.

“Futurama was one the first festival experiences I ever had,” remembers bassist Peter Hook. “John Keenan the promoter became a lifelong friend. He was one of the first legends. The gig was the first time I’d ever seen caravans used as dressing rooms indoors, but it had a great atmosphere. It really put Joy Division on the map and the groups on the bill were very well matched to the audience. There weren’t many indoor festivals prior to Futurama so it was quite ground-breaking for the genre in the north. Funnily enough it gets talked about a lot even now. John became a legend and, in many ways, so has the festival. Let’s hope we can capture that wonderful atmosphere again.”

Also linking the festival’s history are Kirk Brandon’s Theatre Of Hate who will be celebrating their 40th anniversary of playing Futurama 3 in 1981, returning in 2021.

With a headliner still to be announced, these iconic acts join a host of bands from the many different strains and spectrums of alternative music, with respected website Louder Than War hosting the main stage on one day, and the world’s biggest rock ‘n’ roll and punk magazine Vive Le Rock the other day, whilst The AF Gang (the IDLES legendary fan club) host the up and coming stage.

There are 4 stages at the Futurama.

Invisible Wind Factory Main Stage: Headline acts and supports

Substation Downstairs in IWF: Electronic, synth and experimental noise

Make Arts Centre: Some of the best new and vintage post punk bands on the circuit

Ten Street Social: The AF Gang hosts the up and coming stage plus DJ sets

Other acts confirmed to appear include Warmduscher, The Chameleons, The Blinders, The Lovely Eggs, Spizz Energi, Imperial Wax, Just Mustard, Membranes, Evil Blizzard, Sink Ya Teeth, John, Heavy Lungs, We Are Not Devo, DSM IV, Bob Vylan, Billy NoMates, Witch Fever, Tokky Horror, Pozi, Crows, St Agnes, LibraLibra, Courting, Crawlers and Joe & Shitboys, with many more to be announced.

Tickets are Early Bird £80 for the weekend from See Tickets HERE:

£20 deposit scheme and four payments scheme in place

For more info head to: