Echo & The Bunnymen’s charismatic frontman Ian McCulloch entered the stage at the Orpheum Theatre on Tuesday night to the sound of a dramatic church choir. With lit candles perched on amps flickering across the stage, the show took on a sanctimonious feel as the Liverpool-based ’80s rock group ran through its hits—songs only its religious following would remember the words to all these years later.
Cultish crowds of black-clad fans rose from their seats in the intimate venue during the show as McCulloch beckoned to his loving followers behind the shade of dark circular sunglasses, his hair haphazardly sticking out in all directions. The brooding singer delivered the lyrics of the band’s gloom rock discography with a cool removal, spewing the lyrics of tracks such as “Zimbo” and “Villiers Terrace” unceremoniously at the orchestra seats.
The intimacy of the venue allowed for colorful dialogue between the fans and frontman, who took this as an opportunity to showcase his charming British banter. Prior to “Nothing Lasts Forever,” a slow track the crowd endearingly sang back to the band, McCulloch embraced his role as “Echo” by responding to hecklers from the Boston crowd.
“Would you interrupt Einstein?” the singer retorted to one fan, only half-jokingly.
Audience members jumped to their feet to dance to the deliciously ’80s beats of “Bring on the Dancing Horses” and “The Cutter.” Having come up around the same time and place—late 1970s England—as The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen obscured its dreadful lyrics behind upbeat instrumentals in the same fashion as its counterparts, coming across a bit more angsty and a lot more confused than the punk rock legends. As guitarist Will Sergeant toyed with distortion to drive the snaking beat of hit song “The Cutter” through the small venue, McCulloch shouted “Spare us the cutter” to the balcony.
Thunderous applause erupted during the opening chords of “The Killing Moon,” a song McCulloch has unironically called “the greatest song ever written”—his very own “Stairway to Heaven” or “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Although slightly off-putting, McCulloch is entitled to such an opinion: The haunting chorus inspires a creeping feeling in all who listen, professing “Fate / Up against your will / Through thick and thin / He will wait until / You give yourself to him,” and the accompanying mix of “Space Oddity”-inspired guitar chords and Russian-infused instrumentals give the song a sound impossible to replicate. McCulloch took on a new persona when performing the track—a song that was rebirthed when featured in the 2001 cult classic Donnie Darko—theatrically slewing the lyrics with conviction before leaving the stage.
Echo & The Bunnymen returned for an encore that consisted of “Lips Like Sugar” and “Ocean Rain.” Although the crowd’s energy dwindled after “The Killing Moon,” the veteran musicians continued to perform with the same passion. The band’s show at the Orpheum was an oddity—a relic of gloomy days revived for a night, somehow mustering up the reckless abandon of moments long dedicated to memory.
Featured Image by Kaylie Ramirez / Heights Editor