Double treat in store for North East fans of Echo and the Bunnymen

Ian McCulloch, front left, with Echo and the Bunnymen.
Ian McCulloch, front left, with Echo and the Bunnymen.
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Fans of Echo and the Bunnymen are in for a treat at the double.

Not only are the veteran alternative rock band one of the two acts announced so far for this year’s Hardwick Live show, near Sedgefield in County Durham, now renamed Down to the Woods, but frontman Ian McCulloch is also playing a solo show at the Gala in Durham this weekend.

Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie.

Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie.

McCulloch will be playing acoustic versions of Bunnymen classics and a selection of material from his four solo albums at the Millennium Place theatre on Saturday night.

Tickets to see the 56-year-old Merseysider’s February 20 show cost £17.50. For details, go to www.galadurham.co.uk or www.bunnymen.com

Further solo shows will follow in Newbury, Portsmouth, Colchester, Norwich, Cambridge, Leicester, Milton Keynes, St Helens, Darwen, Hebden Bridge, Bedford, Worthing, Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Henley-on-Thames.

This will be McCulloch’s first solo show in the North East since a date at Newcastle’s O2 Academy 2 in September 2012, though the Bunnymen have played in the city, at the same venue since, in April 2013, as a support act for James, and February 2015, as headliners.

His last show at the Westgate Road venue was part of a tour to promote his fourth solo album, that year’s Pro Patria Mori, later reissued as half of the following year’s Holy Ghosts double set.

The Bunnymen’s show there last year was to plug their 12th LP, 2014’s Meteorites, a No 37 hit, their highest chart placing since 1999.

The band, formed in Liverpool in 1978 and reunited in 1996 after going their separate ways three years earlier, and Scottish indie rockers Primal Scream are the first two acts to be announced for Down to the Woods, taking place in the grounds of Hardwick Hall Hotel on Saturday, August 13.

Further line-up announcements will follow shortly, but this year’s bill already looks set to outdo last year’s, featuring James and Embrace.

Last year’s event, the third to be held under its old name of Hardwick Live, was a sellout success attracting a capacity crowd of 10,000, and early-bird tickets for this year’s follow-up have sold out too.

Ramside Estates spokesman Jonathan Woodliffe said: “Hardwick Live 2015 really set the bar high in terms of both acts and atmosphere, and we’re hoping to top that in 2016 with the first-ever Down to The Woods.

“To land Primal Scream is a major coup for us, especially as it will be their only gig within a 100-mile radius, and to have Echo and the Bunnymen as well really is a double whammy.

“This is the first of many exciting announcements we’ll be making about Down to the Woods in the coming months and we’re confident it is going to be one of the biggest music events of 2016.

“We’ve changed the name of the festival, but everything people enjoyed before will still be a part of this year’s event, with even more to enjoy in the best day of music on offer for miles around.”

Primal Scream release their 11th studio album, Chaosmosis, on Friday, March 18, on their own First International label, via Ignition Records.

The Scottish band, formed in Glasgow in 1982, have notched up seven top 10 albums over the years – Screamadelica, a No 8 in 1991; Give Out but Don’t Give Up, a No 2 in 1994; Vanishing Point, a No 2 in 1997; XTRMNTR, a No 3 in 2000; Evil Heat, a No 9 in 2002; Riot City Blues, a No 5 in 2006; and Beautiful Future, a No 9 in 2008. Their last album, 2013’s More Light, made it to No 12.

They’ve also had three top 10 singles – a double-A-side of Rocks and Funky Jam, a No 7 in 1994; Kowalski, a No 8 in 1997; and Country Girl, a No 5 in 2006.

The Bunnymen are also rumoured to be working on new material for possible release this year.

They have six top 10 LPs to their name – 1981’s Heaven Up Here, a No 10; 1983’s Porcupine, a No 2; the year after’s Ocean Rain and their self-titled 1987 LP, both No 4s; 1997’s Evergreen, a No 8; and the 1985 compilation Songs to Learn and Sing, a No 6.

They also have three top 10 singles on their CV – The Cutter, a No 8 in 1983, and The Killing Moon, a No 9 the year ater, along with Nothing Lasts Forever, a No 8 in 1997.

Tickets for Down to the Woods – priced at £55 for adults, £15 for young people and £8 for children – are available now at www.downtothewoodsfestival.co.uk

A limited number of camping pitches are also on sale for £30 per tent.