Yesteryear’s stars are still stars

Ian McCulloch performing live.

Ian McCulloch performing live.

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Live review: Ian McCulloch at the O2 Academy 2, Newcastle

STARS are Stars was the third song of Ian McCulloch’s acoustic set, and a star is exactly what the Echo and the Bunnymen frontman remains all these years on.

His days of notching up top ten hits and vying with the likes of Bono and Jim Kerr to secure the most music magazine front covers might be long gone – his current solo record, Pro Patria Mori, only made it out thanks to the online equivalent of a whip round among fans and its predecessor, 2003’s Slideling, failed to chart – but the 53-year-old still has star quality in abundance.

Further stellar quality was added by accompaniment from Lightning Seeds frontman Ian Broudie, producer of two of the Bunnymen’s early albums, 1980’s Crocodiles and Porcupine three years after that, and later a pop star in his own right.

McCulloch and fellow Scouser Broudie remained seated on stools in folk-singer style as they strummed their guitars throughout the evening, and both seemed to enjoy each other’s company almost as much as the rest of us enjoyed theirs.

Rescue, the second single from Crocodiles and the band’s first hit, albeit only a No 62, was the song the pair chose to kick off their set, and it was pretty much Bunnymen classics all the way on from there through to set-closer Nothing Lasts Forever and solitary encore Lips Like Sugar.

McCulloch’s new album was given surprisingly short shrift, considering how good he’s been claiming it is over recent months, although its title track was one of the highlights of the night.

Other highlights were, inevitably enough, 1984’s The Killing Moon, one of the Liverpool band’s three top ten singles and possibly their best known song, and a cracking version of 1999’s Rust, their last top 30 single.

McCulloch can next be seen in the north east at the Arc in Stockton on Friday, October 19, a show also being promoted by Newcastle’s SSD Concerts. For tickets, priced £16.50, go to www.arconline.co.uk

DARIN HUTSON