Echo and the Bunnymen
Live In Liverpool
The concept of the “live” album – mostly forgotten for much of the ’90s as artists’ emphasis on live performances declined – is back in a big way. Interestingly enough, it’s ’80s musicians who are at the forefront, from Peter Murphy’s stunning Alive Just For Love to The Psychedelic Furs’ captivating Beautiful Chaos. Live In Liverpool, the first live recording from Echo and the Bunnymen, stands toe-to-toe with their aforementioned contemporaries in producing the best kind of souvenir imaginable, or making a listener wish they had bought a ticket to see them last year. From the first mists-of-time-erasing beats of “Rescue,” and the following track, “Lips Like Sugar,” this disc (superbly recorded last August at Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) re-establishes the band’s reputation as a fantastic live act. Drummer Vinny Jamieson and bassist Pete Wilkinson more than fill the shoes of the original section of Les Pattinson and the late Pete de Freitas, providing an irresistible rhythm background for Ian McCullough and Will Sergeant’s equally irresistible melodies. Also backing the founding duo is guitarist Ged Malley and Ceri James, whose keyboards flawlessly reproduce the Bunnymen’s complex arrangements.
Though the set list had few surprises, Echo and the Bunnymen’s choice of material is nonetheless impressive. Most of the band’s albums are represented, from their 1980 debut, Crocodiles (“All That Jazz,” the career-spawning “Rescue”) to the ’97 “comeback” record, Evergreen (the tender “Nothing Lasts Forever”) and their superb ’01 offering, Flowers (“King Of Kings,” “Eternity Turns,” “Supermellow Man”). Somehow, fan favorites “Bring On the Dancing Horses,” “The Puppet,” and “Bedbugs And Ballyhoo” aren’t included; no matter, “The Killing Moon” — the mood-and-mind-altering, multi-atmospheric song that Robert Smith probably wished he wrote — is performed in all its intricate majesty.
On the sheer strength of its mesmerizing intensity, the disc’s best track is also its most obscure – “Zimbo,” the B-side to the “The Cutter” 12-inch, originally recorded with the Royal Drummers of Burundi in ’83. Program this number between “The Killing Moon” and the driving “Over The Wall,” and you’ve got a 15-minute hit of sonic mescaline.
Live In Liverpool is much more than a regurgitation of dusty singles – McCullough and Sergeant’s truly brilliant compositions have never sounded more immediate. For those who’ve casually dismissed Echo and the Bunnymen as another group of mass-produced, big-haired one-hit-wonders, listening to it will make you feel foolish. And for the long-time fan? This intoxicating record will send you on a dreamlike journey to the salad days of your youth.
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