Top Of The World / Dust Motes / Dream Thrum / Seven / Waltzing Along / How Was It For You / Sound / All In The Mind / Interrogation / Five-O / Waterfall / Just Like Fred Astaire / Sit Down / Of Monsters And Heroes And Men / Moving On / We’re Going To Miss You / Come Home / Laid / Johnny Yen / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Sometimes
Echo And The Bunnymen
Monday night in the imposing surroundings of Bournemouth’s old opera house, now an O2 academy, and it’s the first of the not sold out shows (other than a few seats in Glasgow), but you can’t tell as the standing area is so packed, it’s impossible to get a decent spot even ten minutes into the Bunnymen’s set. So I ascend to “the Gods” as it’s called, to watch from the balcony and get a different perspective on the gig.
The band start off with a trio of slower numbers, Top Of The World sounding as haunting and eerie as ever as it makes its first appearance of the tour proper. It has one idiot singing the opening words to Sit Down at the start, but other than that the audience stand and listen to its funereal beauty. Dust Motes is equally stunning, Tim keeps making references to foreplay as if these slower numbers are there to tease the audience. I’ve never been a huge fan of Dream Thrum and there is still some issue with the bass sound on it that makes it boom in parts of the song, but it fits the building mood well.
You feel it’s getting to a point where the crowd want to explode, but it doesn’t quite happen with Seven and Waltzing Along, which sound fantastic, but aren’t quite the big hit that people want to bounce around to although there are pockets dancing along merrily to it. How Was It For You brings the house down though, Tim jumps down onto the barrier, then into the crowd, where he proceeds to sing half the song and then finishes it firstly sat on the barrier then dancing in the pit.
Sound has been shorn of its extended middle sections and outro on most of the tour so far, but tonight it’s allowed out in all its glory. Andy ends up in a box by the side of the stage, leaning out over the audience playing trumpet and the song gets taken down and back up a couple of times, and it ends with Tim asking all the men in the audience to sing “mah bah ooh” back to him. Stunning.
The two new tracks that follow, All In The Mind and Interrogation, are both well-received, the first bass and drum driven and the latter has a new end section and you can see Tim losing himself in the music half-way through. Five-O has its wonderful violin / trumpet dual/duel opening and then has Larry’s stunning slide guitar running through it.
Andy’s trumpet calling card marks a glorious ragged Waterfall, one of those Hey Ma singles that never really was, whilst Fred Astaire prompts more dancing out in the crowd. Tim jokes that Sit Down was written by Peter Kay and tonight it has a much harder edge to it, the crowd, as in other nights, taking the song from the band by the end and making it their own.
Rather than go hits all the way to the end, it’s taken back down again for an eerie, haunted Of Monsters And Heroes And Men and the crowd are won over by this point and allow what would be for other bands an indulgence, but for James is just how they roll. I’ve waxed lyrical about Moving On, but you feel that if there’s a James revival and resurgence next year and they get the recognition that the music press has given their inferior peers then this is the song that will drive it.
We finish with a trio of We’re Going To Miss You, Come Home and Laid, proof that whilst they know how to pace a set and blow the crowd away at the end, they’re no longer resting on that Sometimes/Laid duo at the end to do it. Come Home is as spectacularly wild as it’s ever been, the band unafraid to take risks and try something slightly different with it so you never get two versions the same.
Johnny Yen hadn’t quite worked for me so far on its couple of appearance but tonight the improvised middle section is brilliant, slow, then building, Larry’s guitar taking the lead as Tim namechecks dead stars such as Winehouse, Joplin and Hendrix. The only real disappointment after this is that Getting Away With It, for the first time I can ever remember, feels a little flat – perhaps as it was a late add back in instead of Born Of Frustration, or maybe just compared to how good the rest of.
James send Bournemouth home with a massive inspired Sometimes. The singalong doesn’t need to be prompted, it seems to go on forever and is a fitting way to conclude an evening that’s different from the others on the tour so far, but no less successful.