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U2 Concert Review: London, England

Date: September 07, 1980
Venue: Lyceum Ballroom

Jolly Hockey Sticks and Chinless Wonders

New Musical Express, 09/27/1980

by Chris Salewicz

Echo and the Bunnymen dwell in the magical land between life and art that is the territory of great rock and roll. Making music alone isn't enough to guarantee entrance to this area: what is required is an almost four dimensional comprehension of this rock n' roll stuff, a sufficiently developed understanding to unerringly, and without deliberation, send shivers of tingling excitement up the spines of an audience. This is the simple, but ultimate, test of the finest rock n' roll.

Echo and the Bunnymen probably would've laughed at the silliness that preceded their Sunday night set -- or the silliness of the groups I saw, anyway. There was an anachronistic air about the evening, a sense about all these groups playing to a lot of very drugged and/or drunken people that was not at all dissimilar from a Roundhouse Sunday afternoon gig ten years ago. It was very hot.

Unexpected visitors to my home prevented me from catching The Books, and London Transport didn't want me to see The Au Pairs. I arrived just as they were leaving the stage.

Delta 5 specialise in in those off-key, school choir, descent vocals that are often a feature of Squat Rock as performed by young ladies. Naturally, they have two bassist, both of whom are girls and look like they were probably prefects. The deliberately gamin-like girl singer wears a T-shirt which says "We Are All Prostitutes," which really does seem too novel a piece of thinking. She looks as though she'd like to go to drama school. The guitarist and strong drummer are both chaps and very nondescript fellows at that, which I hope isn't a sexual statement on the part of the gals.

Short set, short songs -- but though they did make me laugh at their earnestness, which is really all a bit of jolly hockey sticks, they did make me dance, too...

... Which is more than I can say for U2 who are basically little more than nonsense, or perhaps the new Boomtown Rats -- one of the two, and they both amount to the same thing, anyway.

This four-piece Irish group are nothing more than a very traditional hard rock outfit with a singer -- one Bono by name -- who'd love to be Rod Stewart, in imitation of whom he moves much of the time, when he isn't busy imitating the inevitable Iggy, of course. He also delivers Bob Geldof raps. After "Stories for Boys," a song of forced poignancy heavily reliant on Hawkwind's "Silver Machine" bass riff, Bono histrionically bellows: "We're giving out a lot of flesh and passion up here!" and more in a similar vein. Ah, those luvvable, lyrical Oirish kissers of the Blarney Stone. I bet that Bono writes poetry and thinks that Van's The Man to be sure.

U2 are really quite awful, though the young people -- particularly the mutant punks -- at the pop concert seemed to enjoy their tired old fakery.

Did I say the new Boomtown Rats? Make that the new Taste!

Whereas U2 are just copyists, Echo and the Bunnymen have absorbed and transcended their influences, moving on to an area where their music is totally of their own making.

(article goes with greater praise for Echo and the Bunnymen, without further mention of U2)



New Musical Express. All Rights Reserved.

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