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Last night we trekked down to the Paradise Rock Club to catch one of our longtime faves, Echo & the Bunnymen, in concert. They were performing their first two albums back to back, Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here, albums that my husband remembers profoundly. I love those albums but for me the ones that spoke to my teenage soul were Porcupines and Ocean Rain.
We got there early to snag a parking spot, almost across the street, then popped into the Brown Sugar Cafe for some Thai food. Shortly after our food arrived, so did a group of Brits who sat down next to us. We knew they were somehow related to the band but weren’t sure how. Joe thought the guy next to him was Will Sergeant (and it was…turned out to be most of the band sans Ian) but wasn’t 100% sure…neither of us wanted to stare, be rude or ask stupid questions. So we ate up our pad thai and drunken noodles and headed on over to the Paradise to snag our balcony spots, where we have watched shows for the last 10+ years at that venue.
Except when we got there they had these new private box barriers set up. When we caught O.M.D. back in March they had only one side boxed off for VIPs or whomever. This time we get there and boom, new one set up on the other side, effectively meaning that 75% of the balcony spots that were there previously are unavailable or useless (blocked so you can’t see the stage behind the support beams). For the last ten years we always got there early and bought beers while we’re waiting (i.e. we spend more $ than we would have otherwise) because we’re short and if we stand on the floor it means we can never see anything. We snagged one of the only ok balcony spots on the side but the view of the far side of the stage was mostly blocked by the speakers. Disappointing. Oh, and the speakers? They moved them up high so if you are in the balcony you are effectively right in front of them (which led to me having a scary bout of vertigo after The Get Up Kids and OMD shows in March–lesson learned, earplugs!). All of which renders our favorite spot to see shows now one of the worst. That makes me sad…Joe will be less likely to want to go see a band now if they’re playing at the ‘dise.
But back to the Bunnymen. They went on late, over 30 minutes later than you would expect from changing sets around from the opener (who never told the audience who he was!). So that was a little frustrating on a Monday night when work beckons us early the next day.
Echo & the Bunnymen at Paradise, Boston 2011
When they took to the stage I was initially excited. The excitement faded after the second song when I realized that they weren’t going to play with many lights at all–just some low lights on the other band members–never on Ian McCulloch. Which became very annoying very quickly. I wanted to SEE the show, not just hear it. I mean, I buy the albums to hear the music. I pay the ticket price to see the band.
Now don’t get me wrong…they sounded fantastic. Better than I expected. I just couldn’t SEE them, sigh. It was so dark that Will (who was, as always, amazing) even needed a flashlight shined on his guitar so he could see the strings. Ian did talk to the audience a bit but you couldn’t understand him between the mumbling and the Liverpudlian accent. There was no energy on stage at all, just standing in one spot for the most part. And overall, they seemed bored, barely interested in being there. Ian even asked what city he was in at one point.
Plus it was SO hot in the balcony…no idea why the ‘dise doesn’t turn on the air conditioner (cheap?). Between the heat which was making me feel faint and the difficulty seeing the band we decided to leave about 20 min before the show was done, something we never ever do. It means we missed Do it Clean and Bring on the Dancing Horses which saddens me a little. But the thing is, I wouldn’t have seen them performing it, not really, so it won’t be all that much different than just turning up my stereo at home.
I found a review of a 2010 Boston show they did and wow, it’s nearly identical to our experience. Echo and the Bunnymen: bizarre night of music at the Paradise, Boston, April 26, 2010
I will always love the music of Echo & the Bunnymen and will likely buy any new album they put out. But go to another show? No, think we’ll pass.