Friday, May 20, 2011
BUNNYMEN PLAY SAN FRANCISCO
The snow had stopped by the time I awoke and there were signs that the sky would clear later in the morning. By the time I returned to the highway and the park entrance, the roads were plowed, with nearly 2 feet of fresh snow in the visitors center parking lot, the end of the plowed section of road through the park. There was no way I could break trail in this heavy powder 6 miles to the base of the volcano, nor would I want to risk exposing myself to the clear avalanche danger present this day, so a decision was made to skin up and ski the slopes of the old ski area above the parking lot. A tiring experience that yielded some nice turns in the snow, but only with effort considering the depth and quality of the snow. I was originally expecting "Cascade concrete" that would offer easy traveling and nice turning in warmed up corn snow, but today was very different.
By noon I had enough and returned to the road and drove around the park to see the sights and visit Subway Cave, a walk through lave tube north of Mt. Lassen. Dinner in a local restaurant, after which I found a nice parking spot near the top of a cinder cone on the western flank of the Cascade Range overlooking the north end of the central valley, one of the few unfenced public access roads outside the national forest. Fantastic clouds, rain showers sweeping through the valley, views across to the Coast Range and up to Mt. Shasta. I already forget what music I listened to this evening but I was rocking for at least a couple hours before calling it a night.
The following day, Thursday, I continued my journey south, stopping in El Macreo near Sacramento because I had the time, hoping to make an unannounced stop at Murry and Laura's home. But alas, they were out and I continued onto San Francisco, navigating the fast moving traffic and array of highways that dropped me off a short distance from Market Street. I found a parking spot on a side street that did not require payment considering the time of day and my plans. I immediately noticed that this quiet location was ideal for periodic drug deals happening the short time I was there, the street patrolled by a tall individual who carried a bamboo pole. This did not bother me, retreating to the back of the truck to change. Then onto the streets to sight see in the few hours I had before the show.
I didn't do much other than have dinner, visit Dick Blick's art supply store and drool over all their products and smoke a cigar right on the street in front of the theater, watching all the "beautiful" people pass by. I did run across a hole-in-the wall community arts center run by the Central City Hospitality House. Some really interesting pieces were on display in the store front window, including "33 1/3 Degree" by Robert Chambers. I liked it so much that upon my return home I immediately contacted them and bought it. See their other art works that were on display and for sale here:
By 6 PM I was standing in line with others, ready to get inside and start the party!
The Warfield is a really nice music venue, great interior and good acoustics. I found a spot standing behind someone at the front rail, only feet away from the central stage. The guy next to me was this dude who appears on a short video on the Bunnymen's website:
One reviewers comments:
At their date at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre, Echo & the Bunnymen masked themselves behind abundant smoke and non-existent front lights, leaving the audience mostly squinting at a stage of shadowy silhouettes without any interesting projections or anything else to fill the gap visually. But a loquacious, nearly bubbly Ian McCulloch made up for that bashfulness, spouting off frequently during the set and introducing encore tunes as 'the best song of all time' : "The Killing Moon" However, after a false start, he admitted 'that was not the best version of the best song ever'. He then announced 'the second best song of all time': "The Cutter" as well as declaring Heaven Up Here his favorite album to make.
The Bunnymen's signature style of wandering into other songs in the middle of their own was leveraged exactly where a long-time fan would expect: "Crocodiles," "Rescue" and, most memorably, "Do It Clean," in which Ian McCulloch traditionally croons his way into a little Nat King Cole with "When I fall in love... it will be forever..." during the breakdown, then geared it back up with a few lines of James Brown's "Sex Machine" before crescendoing into a frenzied finale to the song. There was also the obligatory Doors reference with a chorus of "Let It Roll Baby" in the middle of "Villiers Terrace."
Although one might expect a (ahem) middle-aged band to start strong and lose momentum as the night wears on, the Bunnymen started strong and truly hit their stride during the second set; “A Promise” at the core of Heaven Up Here sounded exactly like it did 25 years ago, with Will Sargeant’s ringing guitar underpinned by the perfectly gothic rhythm section and dovetailed with McCulloch’s surprisingly strong wail. Between the two full albums with their own flurry of classic singles, plus encores of additional hits including "Bring on the Dancing Horses" as well as "The Cutter" and "The Killing Moon" (rejuvenated by being featured in the opening scene of cult classic Donnie Darko), it ended up being nearly two hours of well-wrought post-punk deliciousness. Now to dig up the fishnets, eyeliner, and trenchcoat…
Read it here:
Other reviews with some awesome pictures:
For me it was a wonderful experience, after months of waiting and the fun events of the last several days. Once the music started I released all ties to reality and fully entered their world. My apologies to the people around me, I may have been having too much fun in front of the stage, the out of control dancing guy. But for me that's the only way to go, to become totally immersed in the experience.
Kelley, a resident of this neighborhood in San Francisco, and his band came on first and did a fine job warming up the audience. I certainly enjoyed his performance. Download a great recording of his complete, uncut show here:
By the time the Bunnymen took the stage I was flying. Everyone put a superb performance and Ian was especially chatty with the fans in the audience. He too was clearly having a good time.
After the show I hung out at the side door of the theater where I shook Ian's and Will's hands and thanked them for their performance that evening, also greeting the other members of the band. I then went back to the truck and settled down for a quiet, undisturbed sleep in the cool evening air. Someone tagged the truck, writing in the dust on the rear window.
Download it here: