Review: Echo and the Bunnymen at Engine Rooms

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The gig got off to a slow start, but no one could resist singing along to Echo and the Bunnymen's biggest hits.

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On Wednesday 13th November, post-punk band Echo and the Bunnymen opened a short string of live dates at Engine Rooms here in Southampton.  Upon arrival, the venue was filling fast, with a mix of people waiting eagerly at the front and the more chilled-out people having a drink at the back.  It’s one of my favourite venues here in the city – not too claustrophobic but intimate enough to really enjoy a show.

Opening for the band was Will Purdue, an alternative-folk guitarist and singer accompanied by a cellist, making for a really interesting dark-folk sound.  What struck me most about this set was the deeply personal lyrics and passionate energy on stage – definitely an act to check out.

Before long the headliners themselves came on stage, met with the enthusiasm from both long-term listeners and brand-new fans.  The show got off to a slow start – the first few songs that they opened with didn’t really take off or evoke a lot of energy in the crowd.  Thankfully, their bigger hits helped to bring some passion to the crowd, like ‘Bedbugs and Ballyhoo’.  A pleasantly surprising hit was ‘The Somnambulist’, one of the group’s newer tracks, which played perfectly in the smaller venue.

What struck me first and foremost about Echo and the Bunnymen was their unshakeable confidence and stage presence.  I found with Echo and the Bunnymen – as with other artists I have seen which have been established for a few decades – that they were perfectly in synch throughout the whole set.  Song transitions were perfectly smooth, and they seem to know exactly what they were doing without the need to communicate.  It’s always a joy to watch that kind of rapport play out on a stage.

One thing I wished for more of was interaction with the crowd.  Although this is by no means completely necessary – I’ve been to many gigs where the artist had total control of the crowd without a word – but in an intimate venue it’s a hard act to pull off.

Of course, it was the biggest hits that worked best at this concert.  Unsurprisingly, ‘The Killing Moon’ had the audience singing along to every word, and hearing everyone join in with ‘Lips Like Sugar’ was spectacular.  The encore was equally worth the wait, ending the night on a high note with ‘The Cutter’ and ‘Ocean Rain’.  The show may have had a slow start, but by the end of the energy in the room was electrifying.

Keep up to date with Echo and the Bunnymen gigs here.

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Records Editor 2019/2020. Second year French and Spanish student. Always going through some kind of music-based phase, frequently crying about The Cure.

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