Opening the proceedings in the gorgeous Leamington Assembly were local duo Coves. Stepping out onto a fog laden stage the band played some pre-recorded backing music which, in time, they began to perform on top of. Initially this was immensely unimpressive. Bands adding some pre-recorded sound to their set is acceptable as it can be difficult for smaller groups to pay and find musicians to help them. However Coves seemed to be actually performing very little and it was doubly annoying that singer Beck Woods, initially, struggled to perform to any reasonable standard. I warmed to the band as their set went on as they have some remarkably strong noise-pop/indie-rock tracks but was ultimately left somewhat unfulfilled by their lacking live set.

Echo and the Bunnymen have earned a awful live reputation in recent years. Ian McCulloch has been accused of turning up to gigs drunk leading to shambolic live performances. The group's latest tour, in which they have been playing through their first two albums Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here seems like an attempt to regain some sort of composure and critical reputation. When the band finally arrived on stage to enthusiastic applause initial signs were very encouraging. 'Opening Up' was played to perfection and sung just as well as it was twenty two years ago. McCulloch fluffed a few lines here and there throughout the performance but generally the entire album was played excellently. In this setting it is evident just how strong Echo and the Bunnymen's early work actually is, there is no dead weight holding down Crocodiles and as such the band played a tight and enjoyable opening to their set. Despite this competency it would be possible to accuse the band of being a little static, each band member barely moved once throughout the set Mccolloch only ever straying from his position to adjust his fan. This is to be expected as, unfortunately, they are getting old and have never really had a reputation for being anything but glum.

After the band finished Crocodiles they took a short ten minute break launching straight into Heaven Up Here upon their return. It was encouraging that the group managed to retain the same composure from the first part of the set but also managed to inject an iota of energy into their performance. For once it looked like the group were actually enjoying playing. Ian McCulloch enjoyed talking to the crowd although it became increasingly difficult to discern what he was actually saying. Heaven Up Here is another strong release and it was remarkably refreshing to hear it played in full. The group were lively throughout and their interaction with the die hard fans in the audience was heartening. This had all the hallmarks of a great gig.

Enthused by the reception the band returned for two encores playing the majority of their hits that were not contained on the first two albums. Their strong performance and new found competency remained, although the band sounded a tad rough during the start of 'The Killing Moon'. Despite these minor flaws I'm very pleased to say that Echo and the Bunneymen have successfully become a must see band once again. Ignore all of the bad things you've heard, the group can now perform as well as they ever did.