by Nataly Morales
I knew Echo and The Bunnymen were quickly approaching retirement age, but I was not expecting to be the youngest person by 20 years when I attended their recent Philly show at the Keswick Theater. A crowd sporting Dockers, loafers and budding baldness filled the venue with excited anticipation. Unlike my eager soccer-mom fan-mates, I was pessimistic about the concert.
I have seen elderly rockers perform before and have typically been let down by their shaky, winded vocals and their unenthusiastic performance, fearing that each strum of the guitar might be their last. I expected the same from the Bunnymen. This time I was dead wrong. Time has not affected The Bunnymen’s talent or tamed lead-singer Ian McCulloch’s spicy personality.
The cocky front man fired commands at the aging audience between each and every song. “I don’t like yelping. Shut the F*** up,” spewed McCulloch, after the set opener “Going Up”, from their 1980 debut album Crocodiles. And as the Volvo-driving, diaper bag-toting, daily vitamin-taking audience danced to “Book of Love”, not unlike my mother dancing in her living room, the front man shouted, “You are leaning on the stage. Maybe you are one of the band, but I don’t think so!” Sorry moms and dads, but this is still Rock and Roll and McCulloch is determined to prove it to you — even at age 50.
In attempt to ignore the comical insults plunging towards me in an incomprehensible English accent, I focused on the songs. When I heard the beginning chords of “Killing Moon,” I was definitely excited. Sure, most people my age know it from the Donnie Darko Soundtrack, but it is truly a brilliant song, no matter what the context.
Cigarette in hand and microphone to lips, McCulloch continued the evening with a mix of classic and new songs, giving their middle-aged fans and not-so-middle-aged fans exactly what they wanted. Everything was played precisely, carefully and with enthusiasm. Flawless instrumentation, clear-as-a-bell vocals and rocker-diva authority made for a pretty awesome show. I guess you are never too old to enjoy Echo and The Bunnymen.
Echo and the Bunnymen’s newest album, The Fountain can be purchased here.