I saw Echo and the Bunnymen quite a few times in their heyday including a couple of their legendary performances: the first time at the Albert Hall and the Liverpool "adventure" A Crystal Day. Maybe I saw them six or seven times in all. And I probably tried to pull my hair up like Mac but it would've usually just flopped into a Julian Cope-ish fringe. I used to pretend that I thought the Teardrop Explodes were better, maybe I actually did think it at the time. I certainly had a long mac or two.
My most enduring Bunnymemory though is of a friend of mine who put "The Back of Love" on 15 times in a row on the jukebox at the Warwick pub on Regent Street in Leamington Spa and was about to reload the song another 15 times (15 songs for £1 in those days) before the landlord switched off the machine and threatened to throw us out.
I saw them again the other night at Koko as part of the annual Camden Crawl. I didn't wear a mac. In fact the tweed jacket I was wearing probably made me look like the local council noise inspector. I was certainly too square to pass as an undercover cop. There were a few old timers there but not many. Mostly these were people who probably got into the band through the soundtrack of Donnie Darko. In a set that featured hit after hit the biggest cheer was for Seven Seas. The crowd loved that one. Singing, throwing beer. Maybe I missed it being used as the theme to some movie or other because I don't remember that song being all that much loved in the past.
The band played well. Will and Mac and some competent others. Mac's voice sounded great. Will's guitar playing was as unique and idiosyncratic as ever. And they looked good too. Like a real band with a real purpose. If only they hadn't gutted their last truly great song "Nothing Lasts Forever" with a plodding and pointless cover of "Walk on the Wild Side". Really they should have just played "The Back of Love" a few more times.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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