We Love Music: Echo & The Bunnymen @ The Black Cat 4/30/10

Echo & The Bunnymen, Ian McCulloch, Will Sergeant
courtesy of Echo & The Bunnymen.

Echo & the Bunnymen played to a sold out Black Cat on Friday night. It was a rescheduled date from their canceled Fall 2009 tour.

Ian McCulloch wore sunglasses and a long coat over his sweatshirt. He smoked many cigarettes and told many, many indecipherable anecdotes. His singing voice sounded spot on and mentally he held it together through most of the set (contrary to what I have heard of earlier Bunnymen tours this century). It was during the encore that Ian began to ramble on with medleys and tributes that stretched some of Echo’s best songs to their breaking points. I won’t say that this aging post-punk genius isn’t due his eccentricities though. All told, minus the encore nonsense, he gave us an excellent show chock full of fan favorites. Original member Will Sergeant was there too, killing it on guitar. The backing band was very tight. If you closed your eyes you would think you were listening to the 80’s line-up. Except for the keyboards which seemed to disconnect slightly in the set’s later half.

I last saw Echo & The Bunnymen play in 2003 in Spain in front of a massive crowd (50k?) at the Festival Internacional de Benicassim. That show was totally rock star. It looked and sounded epic. Friday night’s show was intimate and informal. Ian and the band hardly seemed to be putting on a show at all. The feel was very relaxed as if the band were playing for old friends rather than paying customers. Judging from the very warm reception the band received, in a way I guess they were.

courtesy of beckaboo011.

I felt the strongest performances of the night were “Bring on the Dancing Horses” (preceded by an anecdote about Roy Ewing on Dallas of all things!), “The Cutter”, and an incredible version of “The Disease”. “Killing Moon” sounded great, except for the keyboards which were off in a really odd way that distracted from the rest of the band’s awesome effort. It was during the encore of “Nothing Lasts Forever” when McCulloch began to slip into bad habits. I think he destroyed an incredible live-rendition of this song with an agonizing, way too long, injection of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”. Now before any rabid Bunnymen swoop in, I know that this is a trademark thing Ian does and normally it is pretty cool, but on Friday night it was unbearable; at one point when the band dropped volume almost completely and Ian was mumbling like a homeless person, I wondered to myself if what he was doing could even be considered music anymore. Harsh but true. He did the same sort of deconstruction to a tight rendition of “Lips Like Sugar” to close out the night. An anti-climactic finale to an otherwise fine night of music.

Choice Ian quote of the night: “Tonight the Black Cat is the epicenter of Rock & Roll!” For about the first hour of Echo & The Bunnymen’s hour and a half set I would have to agree.

courtesy of mocker567.

Michael splits his free time between defending the little guy and championing the underdog. He has been haunting the concert halls, dive bars, and greasy spoons of DC for the last 16 years. His interests include live rock music, researching obscure military/political conflicts, and good hamburgers. He is a friendly grump, has wisdom beyond his years, and is on a life-long quest to attain music nirvana. Follow him on Twitter if you dare!

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