Who: Echo & The Bunnymen
What: 80s rock with surprisingly soulful vocals
Where: The Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Avenue (Broadview Station)
Bonus: Making friends (and then dancing with!) my 60-year-old concert neighbour as she screamed out the songs she wanted to hear.
These guys sing about dancing horses. It’s the best:
Last Tuesday I went to a concert I have been wanting to see for years, performed by the Liverpool rock band Echo & The Bunnymen. I don’t know why, but they just scratch an itch within my 80s-born brain in a way that EDM and DJs, lovely as they are, cannot reach – even though my favourite album, Ocean Rain, came out two years before I was born. Needless to say, I was one of the youngest people in the Danforth Music Hall, and just as excited as the 50+ crowd there. I got a few weird looks that I assume were age-related, but I’ve gotten worse. And it was a nice change from being amidst drunken 19-year-olds who are ostensibly at a place to see a DJ and don’t even know his name (common these days).
The opener, whom I unfortunately don’t even know the name of, had to play his acoustic guitar over the sound of a venue full of people who were there to see…not him. His epic beard was sadly ignored as the old people got a third beer to gear up for a sweaty dance fest (and sweaty it indeed became!).
He took the ignoring in stride though, mentioning at one point, “Echo and the Bunnymen are here tonight!” [Cheers] “I knew you were all here to see one of us…” [Smattering of appreciative laughter].
Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, who were original founders of EATB and are still kickin’ it with the band, looked like the scruffy rockstars you’d expect: Ian wore his sunglasses and overcoat for the entire show, pausing between songs to sip a steaming beverage. There may have been a bottle Tums onstage as well. I do see why some reviewers of recent Echo shows have lumped them into the genre called “dad rock” – or have staunchly defended against this lumping. There were definitely a few dad types who’d had a couple of beers and were sweating profusely while they jerkily cranked out their dad moves to the songs of their almost-forgotten youth.
Having the stamina to perform their standard hits over and over again after all these years, while still promoting their recently released album, Meteorites, is pretty impressive. This also takes poise and probably a lot of self-control. I hadn’t listened to their new stuff, because apparently I am a sucker for nostalgia over an era that I only experienced as a toddler, but the few new songs they performed were decent. They opened with “Meteorites,” solid and pretty instrumental, before sliding into the songs that got the crowd all frothy-mouthed: “Rescue” and “Do It Clean.”
EATB’s immaculate performance of “People are Strange” was when it really hit me that this band is still awesome to see live, whether it’s your first time or your fifth time or your most recent time since seeing them back in ’85, which is what my concert neighbour enthusiastically told the inebriated – and very excited to be out for a night on the town – group of women cavorting in front of us. EATB ended very strong, with “Bring on the Dancing Horses” (my fave), “The Killing Moon,” and “The Cutter.” All great if you’re having 80s cravings for some reason.
I was not a fan of the decision to bring down the volume levels so that the audience could pitch in with their questionable renderings of the choruses of the Bunnymens’ most famous songs, since we obviously hadn’t studied up on the lyrics beforehand and we had a rather “shite” performance, in Ian’s words (I think – it was pretty impossible to understand whatever he was saying through the Liverpool accent). I also discovered that I have been singing one of my favourite lines of any song ever incorrectly. Whoops.
They killed the encore. Ian started with “Nothing Lasts Forever,” another song close to my heart, and they seamlessly transitioned into covers of “Walk on the Wild Side,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” and “In the Midnight Hour” before escalating into the lovely “Lips Like Sugar.”
I took the opportunity to slip out the back of the venue before the second encore, wanting to avoid the post-concert crush of dads wandering about forlornly with a lost look in their eyes.
Thanks for the amazing night, fellas.