[intro-text size=”25px”]Darker than the Smiths, brighter than Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen hits that ever-shifting middle ground- appearing brooding while still remaining enjoyable; a demarcation in which many other black-clad ‘80’s era bands fail. [/intro-text]
Teased hair, dour glances and warbled nasal vocals are de rigueur for those of their ilk but there is unmistakable buoyancy heard in Echo and the Bunnymen’s catalogue which was evident by their enthusiastic and well-received set at the House of Blues this past Wednesday night.
Guitarist, William Alfred Sergeant, carried versions of Seven Seas and The Cutter with sharp, peeling notes that seemed to swirl around the stage. Singer Ian McCulloch’s voice has endured the ravages of time as would any front man returning more than thirty years after his initial debut but he has found an accommodating middle ground. McCulloch never reached for notes outside of his range and smartly tamped down the rest of the arrangements to reflect his somewhat more subdued tempo. The downshift in intensity was never registered by the relentlessly enthusiastic crowd, many of whom were not alive when their first album, Crocodiles, was released in 1980.
It would have been easy, successful even, had they stuck to a tight set of classics and best of’s, but Echo and the Bunnymen is nothing if not challenging. Interspersed between more familiar numbers, they never shied away from their recent works. Their title track off of 2014, Meteorites was performed as stellar and as sharp as anything they’ve recorded despite not having burrowed its way into the nostalgia-heavy hearts of the crowd.
The band never forgot what brought them to dance in the first place either. Towards the end of the night the lights drew low. Smoky neon floods swam throughout the theater before landing on the gaunt silhouettes on stage and the crowd exploded as the first notes of Under the Killing Moon, the band’s most successful single, erupted throughout the House of Blues
Their set showed that Echo and the Bunnymen are not interested in a greatest hits tour or a geriatric reunion in front of sycophantic diehards. Like any band that spans beyond three decades, they have faced highs and lows in front of and well removed from the public spotlight but it is clear that they are dedicated to remaining a vital force that can still deliver a rewarding set to a receptive audience.