Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

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.
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Hot Ticket: The Mary Onettes @ DC9 4/20/10

The Mary Onettes new album "Islands"

Hot Ticket is a column where I occasionally highlight an excellent upcoming concert that might not ping on your sonar otherwise.

On Tuesday, April 20th, The Mary Onettes (of Sweden) will bring their perfected brand of doomed romance, indie-pop to DC9. The Mary Onettes are touring to support their excellent second album, Islands.

I have never seen The Mary Onettes perform live but have been a fan of their music for a long time. I am very excited for the chance to see them, especially at such an intimate venue. Their concerts have received rave reviews calling their live performance magical and grandiose, while applauding their subjugation and mastery of their chosen stylistic niche.

The Mary Onettes’ sound is in the vein Echo & The Bunnymen, Simple Minds, and New Order. They create emotional, sweeping, synth and guitar based tunes that hark back to the heyday of the gloomy romantic singer: a character usually seen sporting all black, walking along an anonymous cement embankment on a gray day, while lamenting how the world just won’t let him be with his lady love. It is epic, tragic, fun stuff that offers a great nostalgia vibe while providing a new millennium update on a sound that was largely absent from music in the 1990’s. At the same time, The Mary Onettes play this music with complete seriousness. There isn’t a trace of hip irony in their songs. Instead there is a refreshing honesty that lends actual emotion to their music. The Mary Onettes are a band that try to revive the lost romantic in us all.

I think this show is going to be a real stunner. The synths and guitars are going to sound great at DC9. And I can not even imagine what it is going to be like standing that close to Philip Ekström while he croons tunes that are meant to be sung across massive canyons and raging rivers to his love on the other side.

Tuesday, 4/20:
The Mary Onettes with The Finish
@ DC9