Waltzing Along / Seven / How Was It For You / Sound / Interrogation / Five-O / Just Like Fred Astaire / Whiteboy / Sit Down / All I’m Saying / Of Monsters And Heroes And Men / I Wanna Go Home / She’s A Star / Moving On / We’re Going To Miss You / Born Of Frustration / Come Home / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Johnny Yen / Sometimes / Laid
Echo And The Bunnymen
After the ridiculously long journey to Leeds (not sure why we couldn’t have stopped off in Birmingham tonight and done Leeds on Thursday) from Bournemouth, the Academy is absolutely rammed to the point where there’s actually no room to get a decent spot to see and dance unless you got in at doors.
The upside to this is that there’s a massive expectant atmosphere when the band make it to the stage at nine. Tim’s almost drowned out by the crowd on Waltzing Along as the pit ends up as one heaving mass which continues through Seven, How Was It For You and Sound. Tim comes out and stands on the barrier in a couple of places during How Was It For You and you think at one point he’s going to dance full-on whilst perched precariously over the crowd. Tim’s thrown a St George’s Cross which he places near Saul’s monitor
Where we’re stood, Interrogation and Five-O are affected by chatter and gutteral tribal football chants. Interrogation is going to be fascinating recorded, they’re still tweeking it and it goes into sonic areas they’ve never been in before in the end section. Even the weareleeds brigade are silenced though by Larry’s breathtaking guitar work on Five-O, which follows the now familiar but never astonishing violin and trumpet extended intro. Just Like Fred Astaire is shorn of the drama of Tim going down into the crowd, but is sung back by almost every one of the 2,000 devotees in the building.
Whiteboy has a new opening section and gets a great reception. It’s the first of three Hey Ma songs tonight and it’s pleasing to see how much of the crowd know them.
There’s so much already been said about Sit Down on this tour, but again tonight it’s hard not to talk about it. Rather than a tired runthrough with the obligatory singalong at the end or an unusual take on it to throw it in and get it out of the way, there’s no shame in exactly what it is, one of the defining songs of the early 1990s. It goes up and down, Tim stood on the monitors conducting the audience who need no encouragement to turn it into seven minutes of delirium as the band improvise their way through the last half of it.
Then we get the first performance of a new song. From what Tim says it’s about the death of Gabrielle Roth. It starts slowly and builds with a beautiful “I’m talking to noone” under a very understated keyboard backing into a chorus which talks of births and graves, a theme that runs through a lot of records. It ends with some effects on Tim’s voice as he finishes with “see you next time”. It feels like it’s still work in progress, but there’s the seeds of a great song in there on first listen.
The duo of Of Monsters And Heroes And Men and I Wanna Go Home that finish off Hey Ma make a potent combination together live in the set and you have to have no soul not to be impacted by them. Monsters has that beautiful haunting opening and build into a dark brooding story and I Wanna Go Home has that James knack of turning a dark song into a celebration, Tim holding that high note for longer than any man should be able to.
It’s then hits all the way to the end of the set. She’s A Star has been revisited since it was last played on the tour and has lost the slow keyboard build up and has been rocked-up and sounds quite fierce. Moving On, although unreleased, will be a single, Saul tells us probably in 2014, and sounds every bit a potential surprise hit, should the industry get its cards in line and actually promote it. It has that immediate singalong chorus you won’t get out of your head and a tune that won’t let your feet stand still.
There’s some confusion at the start of We’re Going To Miss You as to when to start so Tim takes time to tell the story of the song whilst taking the mickey out his bandmates. It’s good to see that on-stage relationships seem so strong at the moment as they approach the recording of the album and a potentially big year next year.
Born Of Frustration and Come Home close the main set. Tim ends up on the barrier again for the former whilst half the crowd try (badly) to imitate the yodel. Come Home sees Larry improvising new guitar parts that add an even more fierce furious flourish to it. Leeds hardly notice as they’re too busy bouncing, flailing their arms and hollering it back to Tim.
Johnny Yen, again not a hit single but should have been, starts the encore and is welcomed like a long lost friend. It’s middle breakdown section is again different from how it has been on previous nights, a sign that this is a band operating at the peak of its powers.
Sometimes again is revitalised. It’s had three years of holding up the set with a predictable singalong section before jumping into Laid. It still has the singalong section, and by god Leeds SING it back at them, but it feels like anyone can pick up an instrument and lead it. There’s a point where five of them are in a line, almost ignorant of the existence of the other four, but in perfect time with them.
And Laid, well they start it slow, go through two verses of it as a communal singalong, before Tim gets the men in the crowd to sing the high-pitched part, before Larry triggers pandemonium by starting the song again, but this time as the raucous three minute bundle of fun that it is.