Echo & the Bunnymen are celebrating “40 years of magical songs” and their sold out show in San Diego was a perfect fit. The Observatory North Park crowd was clearly excited to see the show, as the venue was almost full midway through the opening act set by the mellow indie pop band Cayucas.
Echo & the Bunnymen were going to mark the 40th anniversary of their 1980 debut album “Crocodiles” with a UK tour, but the pandemic pushed things to 2022. They have not been to the US since 2018, and they even had to cancel their May appearance at Cruel World due to visa issues. But finally, they are here!
Founding members Ian McCulloch (vocals) and Will Sergeant (guitar) were loudly welcomed back to the US by the appreciative crowd, but then the audience quieted to fit the ambiance. The stage was dimly lit with dry ice smoke setting the ambient mood for the evening. Obviously Echo is not a loud and boisterous rock show, but a subdued, chill vibe to help the audience focus on the sonic experience.
Illuminated by only a subtle spotlight and wearing his iconic dark sunglasses, McCulloch performed while sitting on a stool with both hands on the mic. His voice sounded fantastic and strong, which was important in such a vulnerable environment.
Sergeant was also somewhat illuminated, but the remaining band members were in silhouette the entire show. The stage lighting was an impressive visual stimulus, often contrasting the dark mystique with brilliant multi-color laser effects. The sound was also incredible; all the subtle rhythms and clean crisp guitar textures were noticeably well done. The focus was clearly on the music.
THE OBERVATORY NORTH PARK
San Diego, California
August 24, 2022
The audience matched the low-key vibe of the show; no wild screaming or dancing, just very focused on enjoying the show in an interested, trance-like state. The first song to noticeably rev up the energy was when the inspired crowd raised their hands high and sang along to “Rescue.”
“Bring On the Dancing Horses” and “Seven Seas” roused the crowd as well. Then chuckles when McCulloch sarcastically introduced “The Killing Moon” as “the greatest song ever written.”
For the encore, they performed the wildly popular hit “Lips Like Sugar,” and the band wisely included a slick breakdown to allow the audience to loudly sing the chorus as just the drums provided a four on the floor beat.
That was not enough for the crowd and they demanded another encore, which provided them with “Ocean Rain.”
It was a wonderful performance by Echo & the Bunnymen and it was great to have them back on our shores again!