Echo & the Bunnymen @ The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, 18 Dec
There aren't too many surprises tonight – the Bunnymen are clearly locked into a well-worn groove – but there's still potency in their post-punk psychedelia
Kicking off with the first song from their first album, Going Up immediately demonstrates that Echo & the Bunnymen certainly still have the chops after 40 years. Guitarist Will Sergeant builds up some initial wiry static using a plastic pint cup, for some reason, before Ian McCulloch shows that age hasn't done much to alter his feverish yelps. There's a smattering of material from across the band's hit-and-miss career, but the focus is mostly on their celebrated 80s output.
McCulloch is as curmudgeonly as you'd expect, but he does give a bit of chat between the frequent visits to his little table of weird goodies (booze? cigarettes? milk?!), almost all of which is completely unintelligible thanks to his pointedly Scouse mumble. The band sound great throughout, though the energy drops a bit in the middle before picking back up during covers of Roadhouse Blues, In the Midnight Hour and Walk on the Wild Side, snuck in amongst the moody Villiers Terrace and the fairly rote Nothing Last Forever.
True classics like Seven Seas and The Killing Moon bring the crowd to life, giving McCulloch a breather as they find their voice, before The Cutter closes the main set. A double encore finds the Bunnymen at their twinkly-poppiest, the discoball shining as strongly as the reverb on Lips Like Sugar. Do It Clean, mashed up with splicings of James Brown's Sex Machine, brings the evening to a close, the initial song coming roaring back with a swirling wall of sound.
There aren't too many surprises tonight – the Bunnymen are clearly locked into a well-worn groove – but there's still potency in their post-punk psychedelia.