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Live last night: Echo and the Bunnymen, Shout Out Louds

shout out loudsShout Out Louds will never have a songbook as impressive as Echo and the Bunnymen's, but their weekend show was more satisfying. (Photo by Christian Coinbergh)

By David Malitz

This weekend's pair of shows were '80s Brit-rock icons Echo and the Bunnymen on Friday at the Black Cat and then Shout Out Louds- a band that sounds a lot like '80s Brit-rock icons the Cure and New Order- Sunday at 9:30 club. If you asked me on Friday which show would be better I wouldn't have hesitated to say the Bunnymen. But after watching both shows I was reminded of one of my rules - when in doubt, go younger.

There was nothing wrong with the Bunnymen show on Friday. OK, that's not exactly true. We could have done without some of those meandering medleys that seemed to exist just so Ian McCulloch could sing a verse of "Walk on the Wild Side." The band sounded fine, Will Sergeant still plays great guitar, McCulloch still earns the right to wear sunglasses (and smoke) indoors. We put up with a handful of new tunes and they played all the hits everyone came to hear: "Bring on the Dancing Horses," "Seven Seas," "Villiers Terrace," "Lips Like Sugar," "The Killing Moon," etc.

A few dudes in their 40s and 50s wearing Docksides danced and played air guitar. It was fun, but all nostalgia, as it goes for an increasing number of shows these days. At these kinds of shows expectations will often be met, but rarely exceeded. (Note: This is not a cut-and-dried rule and when you hear me claim that the Clean played show of the year on Friday night, feel free to call me out.)

The Shout Out Louds will probably never write a song as good as any of the aforementioned Bunnymen tunes. They're more likely to attempt to recreate "Age of Consent" or "Lullaby" than "The Killing Moon," anyway. But there was definitely something more vibrant about their performance on Sunday night. There was no wait-it-out factor. They played like they still had something to prove, not like it was another victory lap.

The dichotomy was best displayed with the final songs of each set. The Bunnymen ended with "The Cutter," a 27-year-old tune that is among their best. Shout Out Louds ended with "Walls," a single from their new album that's also one of their best compositions. In both cases it would have been massively disappointing to leave the club without hearing either song. There's no question which is the better song, but there was also no question which was more exciting to hear and see in 2010.

(Listen to the Shout Out Louds show on NPR Music.)

By David Malitz  |  May 3, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
Categories:  Live last night  | Tags: Echo and the Bunnymen, Shout Out Louds  
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