The other night a colleague asked me how it can be that New Order sells out the Aragon while Echo & the Bunnymen can barely fill the Metro, when the latter group is so much more influential on modern rock. The only thing I could offer was, “Because they have a stupid name?” Great question, though: you can’t throw a rock at Coachella or South by Southwest without hitting a band that either cops the B-men’s moves–Interpol, British Sea Power, the Killers, the Arcade Fire, half the new Sub Pop roster–or cites them as an influence, like Pavement and Coldplay have. The Liverpuds seem to realize this on Siberia (Cooking Vinyl), a focused and dross-free revisitation of their epoch-making 1980-’84 period. Singer Ian McCulloch says the current lineup is “the closest to the old Bunnymen we’ve ever had,” but it hasn’t been easy getting back to where they started. After McCulloch went solo in 1988, drummer Pete DeFreitas died in a car accident and the group spent much of the next decade adrift, releasing Reverberation in 1990 without their signature vocalist, then reuniting with him for 1997’s Evergreen, which suffered from too much McCulloch and not enough Will Sergeant, the group’s core sound guitarchitect. They show their age a bit on Siberia–McCulloch’s voice has weathered into a pleasant gruffness–but most of the time it’s like the last 17 years never happened. “Parthenon Drive” opens with a classic Bunnymen keyboard hook like something off Heaven Up Here (that album’s producer, Hugh Jones, is back in the control room again), and Sergeant’s Telecaster sounds as clarion as ever. Innaway open. Fri 11/25, 8 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $23.50, 18+.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joe Dulworth.