Easter Bunnyman Ian McCulloch needs no egging on to line up solo shows

Echo and the Bunnymen singer Ian McCulloch is playing a solo show in Gateshead this weekend.
Echo and the Bunnymen singer Ian McCulloch is playing a solo show in Gateshead this weekend.

The Easter Bunny might not be out and about for over a week yet, but a pre-Easter Bunnyman will be putting in an appearance in the north east this weekend.

Echo and the Bunnymen frontman Ian McCulloch is kicking off his latest solo acoustic tour at the Sage Gateshead’s hall two tomorrow night, April 8.

This is the 57-year-old Merseysider’s first visit to the riverside venue ever and his first solo Tyneside show since a gig north of the river at Newcastle’s O2 Academy 2 in September 2012, although he did play at Durham’s Gala Theatre in February last year.

He will be supported by blues-folk singer-songwriter Garron Frith, from Manchester.

McCulloch’s set, expected to last about an hour and a half, will comprise stripped-down versions of classics from the 12 albums released by the Bunnymen since their formation in Liverpool in 1978 interspersed by songs from his four solo albums – 1989’s Candleland, 1992’s Mysterio, 2003’s Slideling and 2012’s Pro Patria Mori.

After tomorrow’s show, he’ll move onto Bury, Milton Keynes, Winchester, Norwich, Colchester, Cambridge, Havant, Wolverhampton and Henley for further solo shows, taking him into May and the start of a summer festival season for the Bunnymen featuring dates in Madrid in Spain, Holmfirth, Hull and Cornwall, followed by a US co-headlining tour with the Violent Femmes.

McCulloch has played two Tyneside shows with the Bunnymen since his last solo gig here, both in the O2 Academy’s main hall, in April 2013, as a support act for James, and in February 2015, as headliners.

That latter show at the Westgate Road venue was to promote their 12th album, 2014’s Meteorites, a No 37 hit, their highest chart placing since 1999.

The band, formed in 1978 and reunited in 1996 after going their separate ways three years earlier, 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 after, along with Nothing Lasts Forever, a No 8 in 1997.

Tickets for tomorrow’s Sage Gateshead show, priced £21.80, have sold out, but returns might be available on the night. For details, go to www.sagegateshead.com, www.bunnymen.com or call 0191 443 4661.