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Echo & The Bunnymen’s 40th Anniversary Tour Off to a Rough Start Due to Ian McCulloch Illness: Recap

McCulloch was visibly under the weather and left the stage multiple times

Echo and The Bunnymen tour
Echo and the Bunnymen, photo by Kieran Frost/Redferns
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    Echo and the Bunnymen have embarked on a long-awaited tour in celebration of their 40th anniversary, though things were off to a rocky start at Atlanta’s Tabernacle concert hall on Monday night (August 15th).

    Dubbed “Celebrating 40 Years of Magical Songs,” the tour (grab tickets here) kickoff saw both longtime and Gen Z-aged fans rubbing shoulders with each other like friends, with everyone seeming to be in agreement that the Liverpool act won’t be on the road forever.

    Save for a few festival sets, the Atlanta gig marked the band’s first outing since a UK tour in March, and anticipation Stateside has been high. Unfortunately, vocalist Ian McCulloch was under the weather, as the band confirmed on social media after the set. At one point, McCulloch left the stage for about 20 minutes, while some songs were rushed — and the venue was positively sweltering, making it tough for many fans in attendance.

    Sickness aside, McCulloch sounded great when he was on stage. Sporting sunglasses and a black overcoat, his arresting vocals were on display throughout songs like “The Killing Moon,” “Lips Like Sugar” and “Bring On the Dancing Horses,” as well as a new song, “Brussels Is Haunted.” McCulloch contoured his voice expertly when he could, bringing the Bunnymen’s post-punk songs into almost country-sounding territory at times.

    But by “Lips Like Sugar,” he shed the coat and was clearly losing steam, and disappeared from the stage twice, then powered through for “The Killing Moon.”

    The show had its strong moments. A well-choreographed light show illuminated the venue, transporting fans into an ‘80s fever dream, and Echo and the Bunnymen certainly delivered on all of the hits a fan could ask for. The rest of the band was in fine form, and sounded especially tight on “Rescue” and “Bring On the Dancing Horses.” McCulloch was visibly low-energy, but his bandmates did their best to carry the evening.

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    Luckily, McCulloch appears to have since recovered, as the band mentioned on Twitter. Though the first night of “Celebrating 40 Years of Magical Songs” was certainly short of what was promised, the group appears to be pressing “onward.”

    Echo & The Bunnymen next play the House of Blues in Houston, Texas on Wednesday, August 17th. Tickets for that gig, and for the rest of the tour, are available via Ticketmaster.

    You can see footage of McCulloch leaving the stage at the 4:47 mark below.

    Setlist:
    Going Up
    Show of Strength
    All That Jazz
    Flowers
    Rescue
    Bring On the Dancing Horses
    Over the Wall
    All My Colours (Zimbo)
    Seven Seas
    Bedbugs and Ballyhoo
    Brussels Is Haunted
    Villiers Terrace / Roadhouse Blues
    Nothing Lasts Forever / Walk on the Wild Side
    Never Stop
    Lips Like Sugar
    The Killing Moon

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