I worked half a day in the office from where I drove to DIA. I had a cigar on the balcony on the south side of the airport, enjoying the view, the warmth of the sun and savouring the moment. Through security, on to British Airways. I stopped at the duty free store to purchase a bottle of Jose Cuervo, not knowing what I might find in the UK. Good thing because all the stores I stopped in that sold alcoholic beverages in Liverpool did not sell tequila.
Criss cross the sky
Cloud trails lit by warm sun light
Their journey's progress
Shadowed mountains rise
Witnessed the pioneers sprawl
His dirty brown cloud
Date of departure
A dream that once was distant
Time that melts away
Gray clouds rimmed in light
Line up across the Fall sky
Setting sun's shadows grow
Prairie shadows grow
Ghosts of the plains warriors
Wander the suburbs
Nine hours crunched in an aisle seat, trying to sleep as much as possible. Other than the boredom, the flight was uneventful. Arrive at Heathrow Airport in London at about 9 AM. I take the underground to the Euston Station where I catch a Virgin Rail train to Liverpool, only 2 hours to cover the 200 miles between the cities. I watch the unfamiliar landscape pass by through the window, much of it still green, unlike the dusty brown I left behind in Colorado.
I arrive in Liverpool at approximately 3 PM and head directly for the O2 Academy to verify its location. As I’m standing there, Jez Wing (keyboards) walks up and lets the guy in the ticket booth know that he’s with the Bunnymen. Wanting to get Ian’s signature on my 1984 tour book, I ask Jez whether he thinks Ian would be inside. He replies that it is highly unlikely and he goes in.
I check in at the Britannia Adelphi located a few blocks away. The hotel is located in the center of Liverpool. I check in and go to my room where I unpack and begin preparing for the first of three concerts with The Bunnymen: pick out the clothes to wear, fill the flask with 10 oz. of tequila and check the audio recording equipment. Although I didn't like the idea, I had a quick dinner at Burger King only a block away, time being too short for a sit down dinner.
Six o'clock found me standing in the plaza between the Walker Art Museum and St. Georges Hall, having a cigar and watching this vibrant city in the early evening hour, the streets filled with people, buses, cars and taxis. I was again savouring the moment, knowing that the music would shortly begin.
I entered the O2 Academy shortly after 7 PM and took my place before the stage with a couple dozen other people. I just so happened to be standing behind someone who turned around and recognized me. It was“King of Kings” from the Villiers Terrace Bunnymen Underground website. Other people began arriving who were also members of the Bunnymen forum. We chatted and the time went by quickly.
The warm up band, Strangeways out of London, performed from 8 to 8:30. They put on a good show, helping build the mood for the coming act. The room began to quickly fill up, the Gregorian chant announcing the arrival of The Bunnymen at 9:15, a cheer from the crowd rang out. The show began, sweeping me off my feet for the remainder of the evening. The tequila flowed in earnest. I was in heaven for the next hour and a half.
As over 1200 satisfied fans left Liverpool's o2 Academy, on what was the first of three shows for the post-punk legends, the sky glistened;snow flakes gracefully drooped and the nearby iconic St. Georges hall dominated the city landscape.
If last night is anything to go by fans who have tickets for tonight and tomorrow's sold out gigs are in for a treat.
With a back catalogue of spanning over thirty years The Bunnymen can throw together a set list to rival any band on the planet.
However, the first four songs alone would have left most of the paying punters happy yesterday evening.
Kicking off with the incredibly atmospheric Going Up, the opening track off their debut album Crocodiles, which next year moves into it's fourth decade since release, the mood was set.
Smoke billowed from the stage, leaving only the hazy trademark silhouettes of the band.
Frontman Ian McCulloch cuts a fine shadowy figure on stage. Gutairst Will Sergeant, the only other remaining member from the original lineup, kept his head down in placid concentration throughout.
McCulloch came across a little irked during the third song, Rescue. Ironically pointing at the crowd and asking for his band to "take it down a little so I can hear these talk".
The crashing crescendo at the finale led straight into a hard and fast version of Villiers Terrace.
Even the casual gig go-ers chatting at the back must have pricked their ears to attention.
It was not just the more talkative, irregular and less interested in the audience that blighted Mac.
Last night McCulloch seemed annoyed on more than one occasion at the more 'hardcore' fans at the front.
Whether it was their mistimed singing, shouting or camera flashes some visibly upset the Norris Green born singer throughout. He held it together though. Describing Bring on the Dancing Horses as "the greatest version we've ever played" and he was cockily pleased with the groovy Bedbugs and Ballyhoo, proclaiming after "and that was only a b-side".
The aforementioned Killing Moon saw singing, swaying and smiling in equal measures before the set was drew to a close with The Cutter.During which McCulloch thrust his arms out sideways for the lyric "am I the worthy cross"; a biblical like moment.
The show came to an end with Lips Like Sugar, after which I headed straight for the front garage bay door where the band was expected to exit. They each came out and departed, one by one. Ian of course was the very last, exiting the building as a passenger in a car, not stopping long enough to meet with the handful of hopeful fans remaining.
An after show party was planned for this evening at Stage 2. Not knowing where that was and being too tired to go after a full day of traveling, I returned to the hotel where I checked the quality of the audio recording and then went to a long awaited bed for a good nights sleep. My loud cheering is very evident on the recording, requiring that I take the time to edit out as much of it as possible. A lesson learned for the following evening. Where’s my bootleg teacher to instruct me on making the best possible recordings?
All That Jazz
Bedbugs and Bally Hoo
Download it here:
This shows recording was the best of all three nights (the audience was not that loud) but the worst in terms of recording my enthusiasm for being there, the whooping and hollering coming through loud and clear (the majority edited out). The middle of the set list is provided below, consisting of the following songs:
All That Jazz
Bedbugs and Bally Hoo
Download it here: