May 10th, 2011
Loopster Live: Echo and the Bunnymen at Warehouse Live
Friday night’s music calendar offered a lot of options with minimal disparity. If you wanted to see a surly frontman with a history of collaboration with Billy Bragg, it wasn’t an easy choice. If you really wanted to catch an act that’s been quintessential to their genre for nearly 30 years, that wasn’t going to help you either. If you are a musically-discriminatory scenester (with or without oilfield problems), there was only one place for you to be Friday evening: Wilco. For the rest of us, Echo and the Bunnymen was hosted by Warehouse Live for their second stop on a brief North American tour.
With a promised playlist of their first two albums with a follow-on “encore” set of their hits and a start time of 10pm that came and went as quickly as Friday’s first cocktail, it was a bit much to expect an American audience to stay enthusiastic until past midnight before the more recognizable tunes were performed. And so the concert began to have the feel of a marathon Hindu wedding, with attendees milling about outside, drinking, smoking, and catching up, without, unfortunately an elephant entrance.
The credit of recreating a set list to follow the albums goes to, I believe, the Sparks, who played 21 albums in 21 nights. The idea was given even greater awareness by My Morning Jacket’s Terminal 5 performances. While this is an interesting way to rediscover old favorites, it was a challenge for an audience that, in most cases, did not learn of Echo and the Bunnymen until their fourth or fifth album. Given the short tour, my wager is that subsequent tours will feature subsequent albums and “top” cities will enjoy the albums of the mid-80s.
By the end of the second album, half of the crowd had apparently given up and gone home. The patient (or masochistic) perked up noticeably and began dancing with the opening notes of “Lips Like Sugar,” only to be smacked back down with “Do It Clean” – a US only track off of the evening’s opener album Crocodiles. It was as if Ian McCulloch really didn’t want anyone to truly get into the show.
“Bring on the Dancing Horses” – audience was right back into it. Echo and the Bunnymen brought a little twist to “Nothing Lasts Forever” by segueing into Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” and all the faithful went “Doo Do Doo, Doo Do Doo, Doo Do Doo.” And Liverpool’s best (Ian’s impression of Liam Gallagher) had everyone focused again.
In all, it was a somewhat frustrating show. Yet one I was glad to have witnessed. And judging by the rabid remnants as the light came up, those who survived were happy to have done so.
Stoney McDougal’s Take: I was watching Jeff tWEEDy with everyone else.
Encore Set List
Lips Like Sugar
Do It Clean
Bring on the Dancing Horses
Nothing Lasts Forever/Walk on the Wild Side
The Killing Moon
Production: Fog machine and backlighting, a photographer’s nightmare.