Mac makes good on his promise

Echo & the Bunnymen at Warehouse 23, Wakefield, Friday 16 October

As the backlighting cut through billowing dry ice, one of the most recognisable silhouettes in rock emerged from the swirling clouds. “Hiya,” it casually intoned. “Thanks for coming: it's gonna be great.”

Ian McCulloch never was short of confidence (why else those 'Mouth of the Mersey' epithets?) and with those understated words of welcome to a packed Warehouse 23, a gauntlet was well-and-truly thrown down.

Was it to himself and the band? Or was it to the fans – you ARE going to enjoy yourselves? Either way, McCulloch, Will Sergeant and their sidekicks made good on their promise from start to finish of this romp through 30 years of quality tunes.

A razor-sharp Crocodiles opened the evening's account to vigorous applause, before Rescue sparked the first of many communal singalongs from an audience which cast off its (mainly) middle-aged cares for a joyous journey back to its collective youth.

It was an unashamed greatest hits-fest (and why not when you've got so many good 'uns?), plus a bit of a Doors tribute with a smart cover of People Are Strange and a segment of Roadhouse Blues inserted into Villiers Terrace.

McCulloch even let his studied coolness slip for a spot of calculated crowd-pleasing, handing over The Back of Love to the crowd to sing – not that they needed an invitation then or at any other time.

Almost everyone in the house would have gone home happy following a stunning one-two finale of Killing Moon and The Cutter, but after keeping them baying for more until mass hoarseness threatened to set in, the inevitable encore was granted.

Nothing Lasts For Ever had Walk On The Wild Side and In The Midnight Hour segued in (including a cheeky substitution of 'Wakefield City' for its New York big brother in the former), before Lips Like Sugar delivered the final smacker.

And yes: just as Mac told us it would be, the night was sweet.

WfL rating: 4/5

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