Last, Last Night: Echo & the Bunnymen at the Nokia Theatre

Last, Last Night: Echo & the Bunnymen at the Nokia Theatre
Andrew Youssef

Review By: Andrew Youssef
Saturday Night: Echo & The Bunnymen at the Nokia Theatre (10/24/09)

Better Than: Joining the sea of Tapout shirts at UFC across the street at Staples Center. (Editor's Note: Which, funny enough, we did actually cover. Heh.)

A shroud of darkness covered the stage as shadowy figures reached for their musical instruments. The conductor of a small orchestra waited for Ian McCullough (Vocals) to position himself behind the microphone.

Symphonic strings started to swirl the lush tones of "Silver" as Echo & the Bunnymen embarked on the first track of their seminal album Ocean Rain. Dark blue lights and the cavernous feel of the Nokia Theatre set the atmosphere perfectly with Ian mentioning how much he enjoyed the venue a number of times during the performance.

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"Crystal Days" sounded pristine with rising swells from the orchestra accompanying the jangly guitar work of Will Sergeant. Since they played the album in order, everyone cheered loudly prior to the epic-sounding "The Killing Moon" with ushers unsuccessfully trying to direct patrons back into their seats instead of dancing in the aisles.

Acoustic guitars faded into the hypnotic bass line of "Seven Seas" as Ian's voice hovered like a dark cloud over the breezy song.  The album was destined to be performed with an orchestra especially during "Ocean Rain" with its sad sway of crying strings.

The energy level quickly returned after a short intermission as Echo & the Bunnymen played "Rescue" with Ian's vocals taking on a pleading tone during the refrain. The razor sharp guitar slashes of "Show of Strength" were underpinned by a bouncing bass line. It was amazing how timeless some of these decades old tunes sounded and how they have influenced countless bands.

"Bring On The Dancing Horses" was another highlight of the night with its shimmering guitars, Ian's smoky voice and uplifting bass line. In terms of ferocity, "All That Jazz" roared as the guitars drenched the audience in sound with the decibel level possibly reaching red territory.

The exotic eastern swells of "The Cutter " may have benefited from some orchestral treatment but still was met with rapturous cheers at its conclusion. An encore of "Nothing Lasts Forever" and the classic "Lips Like Sugar" firmly cemented the notion that that Echo & the Bunnymen are often imitated but can never be duplicated.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I cherish my copy of Echo & the Bunnymen's compilation Crystal Days.

Random Detail: Hundreds of people were dressed up as zombies for the zombie walk in the middle of the LA Live complex. Scary!

By The Way: Why did Ian keeping asking if Billy Crystal was in attendance?

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