The day I waited for finally arrived. I boarded a British Airways flight in Denver at 5 PM and stepped out of the airplane in London at 9 AM the following morning, the day having just begun. These overnight flights are OK, but only because one can fall asleep and make the long flight seem that much shorter.
With a full day ahead of me I took the tube to Brixton to check out the concert theater in the daylight, noting the location of the exit where the band would depart and becoming familiar with the route back to the hotel, which was a half mile away. Not far, unless one is impaired by the consumption of many shots of tequila.
Once I was set up in the hotel, I grabbed my camera and made my way to the Thames River, wanting to visit the Parliament Building and Big Ben. What I did not know was that a large student protest was underway in front of the aforementioned buildings in New Palace Yard, a protest meant to persuade a vote on tuition fee increases scheduled for later that day. A large crowd of students, lines of police blocking entry (and exit) into the area, charges and counter charges, swinging batons, with rocks, bottles, sticks and burning road flares being thrown. I avoided getting drawn into the melee, going around the edge looking in and trying to find a way across the Westminster Bridge. Found the one open bridge entrance and made my way back to the hotel where I needed to prepare for this evenings show.
High winds aloft
Cold air streams over mountains
Saucers fill the sky
Ripples through a life
Positive and negative
Fate's ebb and flow
Thin walled metal tube
Hurtling through the night air
A heart beating fast
So far below us
Two weeks in minutes
Locked in winters grip below
Sipping his red wine
Cross the Hudson Bay
Its shores rimmed in pan ice
Stewardess serve tea
Across an ocean
Just past Greenland's southern shore
Dreams fly overhead
I walked to the theater, arriving minutes before it was scheduled to open. Upon entering, I took my place a few feet from the stage where I parked myself for the remainder of the evening. I once again met KOK and we talked about the events of this past year in our lives.
Kelley Stoltz and his band opened up the show for the Bunnymen, just as he did back in New York back on May 1st. Kelley is an American singer, songwriter, musician and big fan of the Bunnymen who hails from San Francisco, California. He put on a great performance.
Up next is what I was waiting for months to hear and see, Echo & The Bunnymen perform their first two albums, Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here, in their entirety. The theater darkened, fog rolling off the stage, a Gregorian chant coming out of the speakers. They take the stage and the magic begins. The crowd went wild and shortly thereafter and for the remainder of the evening I held onto the front railing to prevent from being swept aside by the surging crowd.
London On The Inside wrote this about the show:
2010 is the 30th anniversary of gloom pop legends Echo and the Bunnymen releasing their seminal debut record ‘Crocodiles’, and in homage to this landmark in modern British music the band have set out on a full UK tour to play the record cover to cover along with their follow up 1981 release ‘Heaven Up Here’ also in its entirety. LondOnTheInside was lucky enough to get tickets to the bands only show of the tour in the capital last Thursday (9th Dec) in the legendary Brixton Academy.
From the moment we stepped out of Brixton underground station excitement was in the air as we joined the crowds of people who’d braved the sub zero conditions and were flocking towards the venue. Once inside coats off and beer in hand we had chance to really observe the crowd, who as expected for a Bunnymen 30th anniversary show were predominantly gents of a certain age; but as soon as the band took two the stage for the mammoth two hour set the audience packed tight and jumped around like they were 21 again.
The stage itself had been decked out in camouflage netting circa the ‘Crocodiles’ cover shot and lit by powerful white lamps at the back silhouetting the band for the whole show similar to the cover to ‘Heaven Up Here’. The songs themselves sounded great, nothing has been lost in the thirty years since there release, crisp and as haunting as when they were first committed to record. The Guitars soaked in reverb and delay and Ian McChulluchs voice sounding as good as it ever has. Although the albums work together respectively as a whole the singles shone out; ‘Rescue’ and ‘Pictures On My Wall’ (Crocodiles) and ‘A Promise’ (Heaven Up Here) were particular favourites.
After completion of the fist two albums back to back the band left the stage to a roaring ovation only to re-appear again a few moments later to treat the crowd to their full monies worth by playing an encore of greatest hits from there other records including ‘The Killing Moon’ and ‘Lips Like Sugar’.
Watching a legendary band of this stature play their first two seminal records the way they were meant to be heard was an absolute pleasure and to be treated to an encore of other hits really was the icing on the cake. Echo and the Bunnymen have influenced hundreds of bands over their career and are still as relevant now as they ever were. Here’s to the next thirty years.
The show ends and I make my way to the alley behind the theater where I expect the band to exit. Ian stands with the window to his back, silhouetted against the rooms light. Kelly and his band depart. Gordy takes off too. I was very surprised to see Ian come out much later and stand there on the sidewalk while the band's manager Peasy runs all over the place hoping to hail down a passing taxi. And there's Ian, who graciously gave me his autograph and confirmed they be coming to the US in May. Will then pops out of the theater and he signs the same concert schedule for the O2 Academy. By then it was well after midnight and I walked back to the hotel where I quickly fell asleep after such a long and busy day.