Monday, September 12, 2016

Echo & the Bunnymen at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Ian McCulloch
After brief stints in the Crucial Three and A Shallow Madness, vocalist Ian McCulloch formed Echo & the Bunnymen with guitarist Will Sergeant and bass player Les Pattinson in 1978 in Liverpool , England. The original trio was supplemented by a drum machine until Trinidad-born Pete de Freitas joined as the band's drummer in 1980. Echo & the Bunnymen began to fracture when McCulloch left the band to pursue a solo career in 1988 and de Freitas died in a motorcycle accident in 1989. Sergeant and Pattinson recruited other musicians but the band split in 1993. In 1994 McCulloch and Sergeant began working together again under the name Electrafixion; in 1997 Pattinson joined the duo, and the trio resurrected the Echo & the Bunnymen name. Pattinson left the group again to care for his mother in 1999, and McCulloch and Sergeant continued Echo & the Bunnymen. Echo & the Bunnymen's most recent album, Meteorites, was released in 2014.

McCulloch and Sergeant are joined on the current tour by guitarist Gordy Goudie, keyboardist Jez Wing, bassist Stephen Brannan and drummer Nick Kilroe. Although the band has released 12 albums, the vast majority of the 17-song set came from the band's first five albums, with hardly a reference to any music past 1987. With no new album to promote, Echo & the Bunnymen launched the set with "Going Up," the first track from the band's first album, and stayed in the retrospective mode until the final encore, "Lips Like Sugar." Although the set included no new songs, it did include deep cuts seldom played live. McCulloch put on his best Jim Morrison, singing with a commanding and gruff passion and seldom letting go of the stationery microphone stand; at times the similarity in their voices was uncanny. Echo & the Bunnymen's music was more new wave than classic rock, however, with loads of bright and bouncy melody lines and Sergeant's searing guitar leads driving the band's rockers. The only thing needed was a few new songs.

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