On their ‘Songs to Learn and Sing’ tour, the Liverpudlian band commemorate their chart topping compilation album from 1985 featuring all the singles they released up to that point in their history. However, the setlist also included other non-single tracks that do not feature on the album but are staples in the band’s set honing back to their 40th year anniversary tour in 2022, headed by with their original singer and guitarist, Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, the former who confessed he would make more effort to chat with the audience during shows.

They opened on their earliest material with a trilogy selected from their debut 1980 ‘Crocodiles’ album, with ‘Going Up’, ‘All That Jazz’ and ‘Rescue’, also with a later track sandwiched between, ‘Flowers’, from their 2001 album of the same name; its pastel post-punk shades interrupted only by a short fuzzy guitar solo, although McCulloch’s vocals were a bit sloppy, with the acoustic guitar driven track ‘All My Colour (Zimbo)’ also lethargic, but his vocals had improved by the time they had reached the end of the first set with the soaring majesty of ‘Bring on the Dancing Horses’.

The Bunnymen had decided upon an interval to split the night into two sets; the second set following with ‘Show of Strength’; the tribal drums of the track being particularly standout but not reflected as much live. One of the strongest points in the entire night came in the next single, 1981’s ‘Over the Wall’, which had crashing drums and stretches of turbulent guitar exploding into its chorus. McCulloch then sang The Bunnymen’s 1997 hit single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, which he neatly integrated into a cover of Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’. His vocals, however, were still off tune in ‘Bedbugs & Ballyhoo’, with ‘The Killing Moon’ and ‘The Cutter’, their consecutive year hit singles, similarly suffering to the point McCulloch let the audience take over. Fortunately Sergeant’s crisp, oriental guitar made up for this.

The band finished on an encore of ‘Lips Like Sugar’, which broke down into an interval in which McCulloch during murmurous banter with fans called for the skinning alive of paedophiles. The band finished the night on a second encore with the delicate acoustics of ‘Ocean Rain’, from the studio album of the same name. A little disappointing but there were moments of reprieval.

08/03/24: Echo + The Bunnymen @ Roundhouse, London.

Photos © Ayisha Khan.

© Ayisha Khan.