On Sunday, October 9, Echo & the Bunnymen performed at the Majestic Ventura Theater. Formed in Liverpool, England, in 1978, the band is considered one of the top-tier late ’70s post-punk/alternative bands to emerge from the U.K.; although they also achieved commercial success in the U.S. by the early ’80s with such songs as “Lips Like Sugar,” as well as “Bring On the Dancing Horses” and “The Killing Moon”, which were featured in the cult classic films Pretty in Pink and Donnie Darko, respectively.
The alluring Jennie Vee was the opening act. A self-described Dream Pop musician, her short yet intriguing set seemed to draw inspiration from artists such as Siouxie Sioux, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Raveonettes. In the interim between Vee’s opening set and Echo & the Bunnymen’s arrival, the Majestic Ventura Theater became a packed house. Fans of all ages waited excitedly for the beloved alternative band to play, while cult classic tunes by the Velvet Underground and Joy Division blasted from the loudspeakers. Funnily enough, the last song to be heard over the sound system before Echo & the Bunnymen made its grand entrance was The La’s’ “I Can’t Sleep.” If Echo & the Bunnymen is Liverpool’s second greatest band of all time, surely the La’s is its third greatest.
Echo & the Bunnymen did not disappoint! Dressed in black and sporting his requisite dark shades, supremely cool frontman Ian McCulloch sauntered onto the stage with ace guitarist Will Sergeant and the rest of the band in tow. As they took their stations before the giant red-figured bunnyman banner, engulfed by the swirling colored lights, a husky-voiced McCulloch asked the audience: “Ready?” Then, focusing on deep cuts and classic tracks, the band killed it!
Starting off with choice tunes from the group’s fierce 1980 debut album Crocodiles, McCulloch’s stentorian croon and Sergeant’s mesmeric guitar lines brought the post-punk passion on “Going Up,” “Crocodiles,” “Do It Clean,” and “All That Jazz.” A very soulful rendition of “Seven Seas” was next, off of acclaimed 1984 album Ocean Rain, followed by “Bedbugs and Ballyhoo” from the band’s fifth eponymously titled album from 1985. “My Kingdom,” “Rescue,” “Over the Wall,” and “Never Stop” were also featured.
Other highlights of the concert included a fantastic rendition of “Villiers Terrace” —from which McCulloch segued into verses from both The Doors’ classic “Roadhouse Blues,” and David Bowie’s equally classic “The Jean Genie” The crowd roared its approval and sang along enthusiastically once ’80s radio hits “The Killing Moon,” “The Cutter,” “Bring On the Dancing Horses,” and “Lips Like Sugar” were performed. During the encore, the boys played the melancholic “Nothing Lasts Forever” (a great tune for getting over a messy breakup) — from 1997’s comeback album Evergreen — which segued beautifully into Lou Reed’s sweetly seamy “Walk on the Wild Side.”
Closing the epic event was the sublimely haunting masterpiece “Ocean Rain.” All in all, it was a nostalgic night done right and Echo & the Bunnymen proved that it is still an alternative band of enduring and endearing iconic status.