When I first started listening to “alternative” rock on a regular basis Echo And The Bunnymen’s album Ocean Rain had been released a few years previous, as was The Violent Femmes debut. Ocean Rain was one of the albums I listened to a lot in the late 80s and remains one of my favorites. Having seen the band in 2004, I wasn’t necessarily interested in seeing them again, but the tour with Violent Femmes, a decent price and convenient location along with a bit of prodding from my friend got me to go.
And I’m glad I went.
This time the band performed their set with plenty of energy and actually seemed as if they wanted to be performing. The set was full of older “hits” along with a few newer songs. A few of my personal favorite numbers were performed, such as “The Cutter” and “Bedbugs And Ballyhoo” and for the most part the band seemed to be enjoying themselves – even lead singer Ian McCulloch.
The set was probably shorter than they would usually perform, as it was pretty heavy on the older material. That was different with The Violent Femmes.
Alright, so their set was heavy on their first album, perhaps a third of the set. This was to be expected as those are some of the most famous in the band’s history (and that first album is one of the greatest “alternative” rock albums of all time). Peppered in the lengthy set were some cuts from throughout their career, including “I’m Nothing” which opened their set from the often overlooked New Times album.
Having seen The Violent Femmes twice before, the previous time was in 2004 on the same festival bill as Echo And The Bunnymen, I wasn’t sure I needed to see the band again, but with a new album under their belt and the length of time since I had seen both bands got me going. I wasn’t sure what to expect, honestly, but I know I wasn’t expecting to hear “Old Mother Reagan”.
Apparently the band has been changing up their sets on this tour, not playing necessarily the same songs each time. I’m glad, because this means the band is playing what they want to.
The Horns Of Dilemma were present, and if you’re a fan of The Violent Femmes you know of which I talk about. Both times I saw the band previously this augmentation was not present. This made for a very raucous concert.
While The Violent Femmes put on a better (more energetic) set, I personally liked Echo And The Bunnymen more, just because I like those songs a bit better. But the night belonged to The Violent Femmes. They came out with an agenda and let the audience know they were in for a ride.
Both bands have had their “heyday” of relative popularity, and can be forgiven for relying on older hits during concerts, but should not be seen as exclusively nostalgia acts. They have each released new music over the years, certainly worthy of each band’s legacy.