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Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle

Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 07, 2014 02:20PM
I had heard that the band was going to perform both Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here in their entirety at this show. Part of me was disappointed by that, since it would've given short shrift to two unquestionably great albums, not to mention a scattering of good songs from the post-1984 discs. On the other hand, it promised an incredibly good setlist. So my wife and I got tickets.

Well, as the setlist shows, they didn't follow this plan. That's okay with me, though; I thought they covered the breadth of their career well. It took Ian a few songs to really warm up his voice, but once he got there, he definitely could handle it. Will was his usual self, focusing on his guitar playing and never looking up at the audience, or even his bandmates.

Overall, though, the band was the sum of its parts, no more. Their backing musicians remained anonymous all night. The lighting was subdued, and the thick smoke onstage reduced the figures onstage to silhouettes. Ian did the sing-along routine on a few better-known songs, which was fine. But he really should drop his habit of quoting other artists' songs during his own, or at least choose who to quote more judiciously. (Seriously, Ian McCulloch does not sound credible singing, "Get up/Get on up/Stay on the scene/Like a sex machine.")

No one was driving me particularly crazy at this packed gig. No huge, tall guy insisting on standing in front of us, and no one losing his temper and taking a swing at me. But I did get some static from a crowd of people who were tightly crammed into the staircase leading down to the floor. Let me emphasize that: They were crowded into the staircase. They got irate with me as I tried to get down there, pushing through them. Jeez, I thought, you're standing in the stairway, and you get mad that someone has to push at you just to get through? Get a clue, folks.

Do It Clean
Never Stop (Discotheque)
People Are Strange
Seven Seas
Bedbugs and Ballyhoo
Holy Moses
Over the Wall
All That Jazz
Bring On the Dancing Horses
The Killing Moon
The Cutter

Nothing Lasts Forever
Lips Like Sugar

Ocean Rain

The opener billed herself as Prom Queen. Just a young brunette woman with a mic and guitar. (The mic actually was built into an old telephone handset. Cute touch.) She'd done her hair and chosen her dress to look like June Carter circa 1960, but with more tattoos. She could barely be heard above the audience. At one point, as she talked between songs, my wife said, "I didn't catch that. Did she just announce when the next bus is leaving?"

Re: Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 07, 2014 04:43PM
I saw 'em here on Monday night and I think it was an almost identical setlist. Oddly, they also did "Villiers Terrace" right in the middle of the main set. They also didn't do "Zimbo/All My Colours" and "Over The Wall" back to back and there might have been a third song in the first encore.

All in all, I thought it was quite enjoyable, but I share your irritation with Ian's mid-song quoting of other songs. And I was a little disappointed that they didn't do anything else from Porcupine. I also couldn't understand a goddamn word of what he was saying between songs!
Re: Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 07, 2014 05:53PM
Too bad they didn't all of Heaven Up Here. That's a great album, and the only one of theirs I ever listen to anymore.
Re: Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 07, 2014 08:34PM

(Seriously, Ian McCulloch does not sound credible singing, "Get up/Get on up/Stay on the scene/Like a sex machine.")

Please tell me that he (ahem) inserted that reference during "Bring On The Dancing Horses."


I've seen some recent YouTube footage of McCulloch and the only thing I took away from it was that his voice is totally shot.

Gimme the first four E&TB albums and life can go on as usual. Everything since that brief heyday has been less than scintillating.
Re: Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 07, 2014 09:37PM
> Please tell me that he (ahem) inserted that reference during "Bring On The Dancing Horses."

Nope, during the drawn-out middle of "Do It Clean."

I understood some of Ian's onstage patter, but not much. At one point, he announced, "This next one is, uhhh ..." and looked down at the setlist. "Whoa, that's a good one," he said. After a pause: "So's the one after that." Another pause: "And the one after that is good too!" And then: "And the one after that one is really good. Whoa, you people are gettin' a good run of songs to end this show!"
Re: Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 08, 2014 04:40AM
Now all I wanna hear is James Brown's cover of "Bring On The Dancing Horses."

"Hatin' ... all the fakin' ... 'n shakin' ... while I'm breakin' ... YEEEEEEEEEEOW!"
Re: Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 07, 2014 10:40PM
I saw 'em three times in about a week when they came out here touring Heaven Up Here.
At the time they were my favourite band. I'll never forget it.
Re: Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 08, 2014 03:03AM

Ian's voice has always been like that live. It's just a weird voice. Heavy smoker though, so that's had to have damaged somewhat. I'm not huge on him anyway, but Will is one of the most inventive guitarists evah. Somewhere I've probably over-explained why (in phrasing, texturing, arranging he stands unique)

I'm surprised they didn't do Lovers, off the latest, but Constantinople's probably almost as good. Good set list though. (I don't like the first three albums at all but love to death Ocean Rain, s/t and everything since Flowers). Unfortunately I think this is their first tour in a long time where they skip my region. I always like seeing them. Standing in front of Will has helped my technique. Are any of those songs e-bowed? I can't remember.

Re: Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 08, 2014 02:23PM
Saw them in SF and the setlist was pretty similar (not familiar enough with the New Songs to know which was which). Don't remember if he did "Sex Machine" but he did insert "Walk on the Wild Side" during (I think it was) "Lips Like Sugar". And yeah, his singing got painful at times (esp. during "Bring on the Dancing Horses") and you needed subtitles to understand what he was saying between songs (aside from when he kiddingly berated us Yanks for taking the "u" out of words like "colour".

Fortunately we managed to get there early enough that we were able to get a seat on the upper level (so weren't in the middle of Sardine City or have to worry about Tall Guy standing in front of us). We just had the Drunk Guy going "WWWWWOOOOOOOO!!!" between songs and swaying to the point were I though he was going to tip over the railing! (He disappeared halfway through the set, I think his friend mercifully led him out).
Re: Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 08, 2014 02:29PM
I'm glad I went, and even more glad I didn't pay much for the tickets. But I doubt I'll pay to see them again. At least they didn't sully the memory of that 1987 show at Red Rocks.

Re: Echo & the Bunnymen in Seattle
August 16, 2014 09:03AM
Saw them in Boston on Thursday and I agree with everything that has been said above. Good, not great, show. Ian's demeanor a little cold, his voice a little rough sometimes, and totally impossible to understand his patter. Here's a relevant article on the topic:


I also could do without the 2 Doors covers (!) and the medley involving Walk On The Wild Side. Guitarist sounded absolutely great. Interesting to see the exotic twelve string he pulls out sometimes to get those cool Ocean Rain textures.

p.s. I am that tall guy and the thing I hate is Short-Guy-With-Girlfriend-who-invade-my-personal-space! More than once, I've had to tap someone on the shoulder and say "excuse me, dude, but your ass is on my dick."

Post Edited (08-16-14 06:10)
Re: Echo & the Bunnymen - Songs to Learn & Sing
May 18, 2024 12:48AM
Apologies, I came across a likely correction needed for Echo & the Bunnymen's entry:

Concisely recapitulating the band’s first five years, Songs to Learn & Sing is a welcome retrospective: nine essential items, a fine new tune (“Bring on the Dancing Horses”) and “The Puppet,” Echo’s third single (from 1980), which had not been on any previous US release. The CD and cassette have four bonus tracks.

According to Discogs, all CD editions have the standard 11 tracks, no bonus tracks. There is one UK & Europe cassette edition that has four bonus tracks, but every other cassette does not have any bonus tracks, so caveat emptor. (Also there are a few limited edition vinyl pressings with a bonus 7" single of "The Pictures on My Wall"/"Read It In Books.")

Regardless, great compilation. The common 11-track configuration is nearly perfect - I only wish "Villiers Terrace" had been included to make it a straight dozen.
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