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Saturday 11 February 2023

Saturday Live

My love for Echo And The Bunnymen in their eighties pomp is well documented at these pages. They are also very well served by live performances. This one from 1983 recorded for German TV show Rockpalast almost exactly forty years ago is an hour and a half of prime Bunnymen, the four Bunnymen taking the stage to dry ice and a madrigal intro tape and straight into Going Up's post- punk dread. As they play a stretched out intro to With A Hip its clear we're in the presence of men who want to do it differently. They play in a line, Pete's drum kit set up stage left rather than at the back, Will, Mac and Les in a line left to right. Ian's black top is held together by safety pins, his pale shoulders lit by a single spot. The set is drawn from the first three albums, Porcupine recently released at the time, the group taking it round Europe, a pretty much perfect pre- Ocean Rain set- Show Of Strength, Zimbo, The Cutter, Rescue, My White Devil, Crocodiles, All That Jazz, The Back Of Love.... all payed with a peculiarly Bunnymen sound that is both skeletal and sparse but filled out and widescreen too. Pete de Freitas' drumming is powerful, the tom tom thump that gave them a groove. Les' bass playing, entirely self taught is propulsive and melodic and Will switches between scratchy Velvets guitar and fluid, flipped out psychedelia.

The final section, from the frenetic nervousness of Heaven Up Here to Over The Wall's dark, funky gloom and onto the sturm and drang of Do It Clean is an early 80s joy. The band re- appear, Ian dedicating Villiers Terrace to a scouser in the audience and chucking in bits of Al Green and Gene Vincent into the extended section before bidding the crowd 'auf weidersehen'. They come back for more of course, the deep and dark seascape of No Dark Things, then back off and on (again) for a final flourish through A Promise, Ian pushing his voice to the edge, 'almost near/ almost far/ down came the rain'.  


Nick L said...

Absolutely brilliant. 40 years on ftom The Cutter, been on an 80-83 Bunnymen binge only this week. I still love Will and Mac but they'll never be the same without that engine room behind them, Pete's powerhouse rhythms and Les' circular basslines adding drive and precision. None of the hired hands have ever managed to replicate it. Plus I could bore you about my theory of Mac getting lazier when he stopped playing guitar live...
But what a perfect set you've chosen though.

Walter said...

This were The Bunnymen the peak of their early career. I saw this footage a couple of weeks ago and still was impressed how good they were at these days and I was lucky enough to see them at these days live in Munich. Wonderful stuff and great to bring this back to my memory, Adam.

JC said...


Bunnymen throughout the early 80s were always nights to remember. Glasgow Barrowlands in December 85 remains the best gig I've ever been to.