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Echo & the Bunnymen

SXSW 2009 Day 1, March 18th, 2009

Mar 18, 2009 Echo & the Bunnymen
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Echo and the Bunnymen’s first of three SXSW shows wrapped up an odd bill at Emo’s main room, featuring Cali punks Circle Jerks and Juliette Lewis’s latest band, The New Romantiques–her attempts to channel Janis Joplin and their hard blues rock by numbers bored most of us to tears. But shortly after 1 a.m., Ian McCulloch, Will Sergeant and company took the stage and, to everyone’s delight, played nearly all of Songs to Learn and Sing, plus “Crocodiles” and “All That Jazz.” The few brand new tunes that they previewed – from their forthcoming album The Fountain, produced by John McLaughlin and reportedly featuring a collaboration with Coldplay’s Chris Martin–slid easily into the greatest hits set. Of course, McCulloch’s voice isn’t what it used to be, but echoes of that booming croon rang out on such classics as “The Back of Love” and “The Cutter.” Songs like “Seven Seas” and “Bring on the Dancing Horses” benefited from beefed up guitars, while the new one that closed the set was stretched out in vaguely cheesy fashion with a medley, featuring “Walk on the Wild Side” (“take a walk on the Mersey side,” McCulloch sang) and “In the Midnight Hour.” A minute into their 1999 tune “Rust,” McCulloch stopped the band, saying “it’s too sad,” and launched into “The Killing Moon” instead. No complaints here.

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