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POP Echo and the Bunnymen/ Philharmonic Hall.

IT'S three years since Ian McCulloch and the rest of the Bunnymen dusted down their classic 1984 album Ocean Rain and made it the centrepiece of a thrilling ECHO Arena show during Capital of Culture year.

So we were more than ready for another slice of what many regard as their finest moment.

A home show is just what Mac needed after a disastrous night in Glasgow just days before, where the band marched off stage amid tales of backstage acrimony.

With a string section accompaniment, Ocean Rain was saved for the second half of the show with the first loosely billed a Greatest Hits set - although I'm not sure the rarely heard, if excellent, Stormy Weather really qualifies.

Highlights for me were Bring on the Dancing Horses, which first stirs some of the seated crowd to their feet, early jangler Stars are Stars and a rumbling Never Stop. The city - and as Mac reminds us, we're lucky to have it - was enjoying Med-like temperatures but it was still black combat-style coat for Mac, oozing star appeal in the dry ice, leading the handclaps, while Will Sergeant's guitar was as sublime as it is familiar. It's the second half when the show really slips its anchor though - and how could it not with classics like The Killing Moon and the wonderfully strings-steeped melancholic Ocean Rain itself, never mind Silver and Seven Seas.

Throw in a double encore including Nothing Lasts Forever morphing into Walk on the Wildside, Lips Like Sugar and of course the awesome The Cutter (one of three songs labelled 'best ever' by Mac tonight) and everyone goes home very happy.

If the band does owe Glasgow an apology then a recreation of this night would do very well.

And it could have been even better if the over-officious Phil security had allowed the physical connection between singer and crowd that Mac so clearly wanted. It might not happen for Vasily and the boys, but this is rock 'n'roll!

Andy Kelly
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 3, 2011
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