Echo and the Bunnymen Bring Rants and Covers to Tiny New York Show

October 19, 2009 2:46 PM ET

For Echo & The Bunnymen, arrogance is the elixir of inspiration — it's almost like egomania is the drug that makes them dream, leading them into states of dementia, delirium, and — if they're lucky — musical splendor. When the post-punk sex mystics played a rare intimate small-club date at New York's Mercury Lounge on Saturday night, Ian McCulloch was definitely his awesomely arrogant self, never removing his shades, rambling in his thick Liverpool brogue. It was a glorious show, in part because McCulloch knew he had the crowd in his paw. In the middle of "Rescue," he began a rant as the band vamped behind him, then instructed them, "Quiet down — this is a speech. If I play my cards right it might be a soliloquy. Can anyone spell soliloquy?" It was that kind of gig.

Coasting on their excellent new album The Fountain, the Bunnymen had confidence to spare, although they only touched on the album briefly with "Think I Need It Too." (Mac's introduction to that one was, "I can't remember what's next — aaaaah, this one's a classic!") Will Sargent had his usual pose of monastic concentration, crouching alone with his guitar. McCulloch declared himself the greatest poet since William Shakespeare, asked if his hoarse voice made him sound like Alec Guinness, and inquired if Billy Crystal was in the house. (He wasn't, obviously.) He also mused about his favorite Dallas episode, and the crowd ate it up even though barely a word was comprehensible. His voice was startlingly strong, especially in the stripped-down acoustic tremors of "The Killing Moon," interrupted only by an audience member shrieking "My God you're hot!"

"Villiers Terrace" became a medley with the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues," while "Bring on the Dancing Horses" sounded like a casual elegy for John Hughes. For the finale, "Nothing Lasts Forever" became a love song bridging New York and Liverpool, as Mac stretched it into a medley of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" and John Lennon's "Don't Let Me Down," finally vamping into Wilson Pickett's "In The Midnight Hour" and Lou Reed's "Coney Island Baby" ("I wanna play football for the coach — Liverpool's coach!"). It was a thrillingly insane capper to a thrillingly insane evening.

Set list:

"Going Up"
"Villiers Terrace"/"Roadhouse Blues"
"Forgotten Fields"
"Seven Seas"
"Bring On The Dancing Horses"
"All That Jazz"
"Think I Need It Too"
"The Back Of Love"
"The Killing Moon"
"The Cutter"
"Nothing Lasts Forever"/"Walk on the Wild Side"/"Don't Let Me Down"/"In The Midnight Hour"/"Coney Island Baby"

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

More Song Stories entries »