22nd June | Lloyds Amphitheatre, Harbourside
Photos: Jess Greenwood
The line-up on this hot, sultry, evening on Bristol’s harbourside was impressive. As an opener for this summer’s Skyline Series, moved from its original location at St Philip’s Gatee as that site wasn’t ready, it had all the promise of a belter: a nostalgia-laden dip into some of the most iconic UK post-punk of the past 40 years.
So, who forgot to turn the sound up? From Peter Hook’s opening run through New Order/Joy Division tunes – and hats off to Hooky for a lovely blast of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ – through The Jesus and Mary Chain’s melodious feedback and the Bunnymen’s emotional highpoints, everything seemed strangely muted and at half-volume.
Which was a shame, as it marred an OK night. Following on from Hooky and his band The Light’s Best Of set, with the old bass-slapper displaying his rockiest tendencies, playing with one foot on a speaker and throwing his shirt into the crowd at the finale, we had two more sets of Best-Ofs.
The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Phil Spector-ish wall of sound was in the muffled vein of the evening, but shards of their power pop came across beautifully, if not hushedly. Starting with the chiming rock of ‘Amputation,’ the brothers Reid, Jim the thin frontman and William on guitar, still sporting the big – now greying – shock of hair, went through their catalogue of velvet-tinged Stooge-stained numbers with – quiet – aplomb. ‘April Skies,’ ‘Just Like Honey’ and ‘Some Candy Talking’ were solid (although muted) and the guitar feedback of ‘Halfway To Crazy’ ended their set in a billow of dry ice.
Echo and the Bunnymen took the stage through more of said dry ice (there was a lot of dry ice tonight) and the chimes of ‘Rescue.’ The rippling beat of ‘Villiers Terrace,’ also from their debut 1980 album, Crocodiles followed. ‘Seven Seas,’ ‘All My Colours,’ if not exactly ringing out over this mainly middle-aged audience, was pleasantly pulsing.
Ian McCullough was as languidly cool as ever, all tousled hair and shades, Will Sergeant’s guitar was as commanding, drawing out the psychedelia of songs like ‘Bring On The Dancing Horses’ and ‘Lips Like Sugar.’ Their rendition of ‘The Cutter’ was a high point of the night, transcending the paucity of the sound levels and the stop-start of some of the set. They encored with a glistening ‘The Killing Moon.’
All in all, an evening of half-full, half-empty, due to the sound problems. But beneath the quiet, there were still enough waves of old quality and edgy melodics to send us breezing into the continental warmth of the night.