Before ‘Echo and the Bunnymen’ took the stage at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall on August 12, 2014 the opening sequence of ‘Shadowplay’ from Joy Division washed over the silver haired crowd. The swooning was so intense that when Ian McCulloch and crew finally took the stage there was a collective gasp. Our teenage musical first loves were finally here.
To say that Ian and the band were tight would be an understatement. They were in Olympic form. They were a long way from Liverpool but every ounce of their stride oozed Northern England. Swagger, too cool for school mixed with English aloofness was just what this polite Canadian audience needed.
I remember being introduced to ‘Echo and the Bunnymen’ as a 13 year old in a suburban neighbourhood of Toronto that was defiantly hair metal. My classmates were decidedly worshippers of Duran Duran and Madonna. I was an outsider and probably knew way more beyond my musical years for my own good. ‘Echo and The Bunnymen’ swooped in just at the right time.
It all started for me when John Hughes popped ‘Bring on the Dancing Horses’ onto my PINK “Pretty In Pink Soundtrack” cassette. I was not only romanced by the band’s name but the new wave post punk sound that was coming out of my mini Sony boom box. My musical taste was forming and I was alright about it.
McCulloch the consummate rock star puffed away at his e-cigarettes and sucked back many a hot drink in between songs. There has been a lot said about how his voice isn’t the same due to excesses – but rock stars always come through and like true athletes never let us down when the pressure is on.
Even as someone who just celebrated her 41st birthday ‘Echo and the Bunnymen’ were eager to remind me of my roots and who I have grown into. ‘Rescue’, ‘Do It Clean’, ‘The Cutter’ and ‘The Killing Moon’ were offered up like finally curated tracks worthy of meditation but also to shake your tail feather to that may have only been done in the privacy of your parent’s basement or bedroom 20 some years ago.
McCulloch encouraged the crowd to further sing-along to the tunes. At one point saying (in an unrecognizable scouser accent) that ‘People used to tell us to shut up. These songs are yours – sing it!’. Gosh, I wish was given that permission at 13.
The spookiness of ‘The Killing Moon’ and ‘People Are Strange’ from the Lost Boys soundtrack took us into a darker direction away from the psychedelia of the moment. It was moving and also a lovely reminder of how much depth ‘Echo and the Bunnymen’ have and how not many bands since have been able to emulate their distinctive style.
If you are extra keen, the boys have new music! Echo & the Bunnymen’s most recent album, entitled Meteorites, was released on 26 May 2014 in the UK, and on 3 June 2014 in the US via 429 Records. Pick it up when you have a moment.
I crossed a massive trailblazer off my bucket last night. When will you?