Happy Wednesday, all. I’m still basking the audio glow of the mini-box set of The Clash, but thinking about a different band I got turned onto back in the day: Echo and the Bunnymen. Following a trip to the UK and Europe in 1982 with the Boy Scouts of America, I returned home with a mix tape with all sorts of bands I didn’t know, including The Clash and Echo and the Bunnymen.
Two years later, just a week shy of my 16th birthday, I somehow convinced my parents to drive my buddy Brian and I to Berkeley Community Theater (60+ miles–thanks mom & dad!) to see Echo and the Bunnymen on the Ocean Rain tour. (It proved to be the soundtrack of choice when The Fleshtones were the opening band, and they did just fine, touring in support of the brilliant Hexbreaker LP. The crowd was absolutely primed for the Bunnymen when–lo! a special guest appearance by Billy Bragg, who of course no one had heard of. (Does anyone know if this night, ~9 Sept 84, represented Billy Bragg’s US debut?) He played a solo electric guitar, sang a handful of fun tracks including “The Milkman of Human Kindness” and, alas, was booed off the stage. I thought he was brilliant, but my fellow concertgoers must have imagined that the longer he was onstage, the longer the delay of the Bunnymen, so he had to go.
Brian and I secured a space just a row shy of guitarist Will Sergeant, who regarded the lot of us with a bemused grin throughout the evening. Ian McCulloch clutched the mike stand and swayed fore and aft just a few feet away, and the whole evening was sublime. The crowd pressed across the rows of seats toward the stage, sang along to mystical lyrics we could scarcely make sense of, and thoroughly enjoyed Sargeant’s effort to reproduce the string section bits on his Rickenbacker guitar. The light show must have been awesome, but I mostly remember Sergeant’s smirk, and McCulloch’s voice, delivering a perfect balance of urgency, outrage, and bemusement for the sorting out of life during adolescence.
33 1/3 years ago this week, the Bunnymen made their initial Peel Sessions recordings, which you can find below.
Have a delightful week!