Echo and the Bunnymen
Live at Moseley Folk Festival, Birmingham,
31st of August, 2012
I have a theory that the pop music that meant most to us when we were in the first bloom of youth becomes a kind of gold standard by which we judge all subsequent music. Even bad music that was popular in our late teens and early twenties has a special place because of its power to evoke memories through association -- but good pop music that formed the soundtrack of our lives as we came of age is sublimely potent.
So it is that Echo and the Bunnymen, formed in 1978 (when I was 17), released one of my most treasured LPs Heaven Up Here (when I was 20) and the monumental Ocean Rain (two days before my 23rd birthday.) When the 51-year-old me heard the Bunnymen were headlining the Moseley Folk Festival on the last day of summer, it felt like too good an opportunity to miss.
The 80s post-punk sound of the Bunnymen is stretching the definition of ‘folk’ beyond credulity and, in fact, there seemed to be precious little folk music at the Moseley Folk Festival but there were a fair few artists playing acoustic instruments -- particularly on the Bohemian stage. If the migraine-inducing poor man's disco lighting of the Bohemian stage left a lot to be desired, at least the sound engineer consistently got the best out of a mixed bag of performers. Among these, I was delighted to see those old favourites of this blog, One Sixth of Tommy (see the entry for Monday, 29 August 2011). As ever, they sang and played beautifully but I was dismayed to hear them announce this was to be their last gig. So it was left to the Bunnymen to make my soul soar again. One highlight for me was All My Colours (Zimbo) which took me right back to 1981. Front man Ian McCulloch will never succeed as a health promotion worker: where other singers sip mineral water between songs he just goes on lighting up one cigarette after another. In fact, since the smoking ban in pubs, it comes as a shock to see so many people smoking so many cigarettes. At least I could use my inhaler to keep asthma attacks at bay whereas there was nothing that the many children under three could do to protect their hearing. Despite changeable weather and thoughtless parents of young children, that first day of the festival was worth the trip. Seeing Echo and the Bunnymen live, as they scythed their way through a magnificent version of The Cutter, I was once again in heaven up there.