Maddie & the Bunnymen

“You’re probably the only person here not wearing black,” says Maddie very matter-of-factly as we climb down the stairs into the concert hall towards the GA floor: Another week, another rock concert.

I’m wearing battered jeans and a forest-green t-shirt under this very old plaid flannel shirt that must be over ten years old. My sneakers, dirty and threadbare, are the same Mizunos I use for jogging. Maddie on the other hand is sharply dressed in tight-fitting black denims and a tighter-fitting black blouse, with high-heeled leather boots reaching close to her knees. Her strawberry-blond hair is long and straight, cascading neatly all the way to her lower back. I give her the once-over from head to toe as she steps ahead of me and you’d swear anyone with those abs and that ass and that skin should be at least fifteen years younger.

The lack of a swimsuit model bod notwithstanding, the rest of the audience shares both Maddie’s preference for color and age range.
As we stand in front of the stage waiting for the show to start, she notices this short, stubby character in a black leather jacket with a bald patch and a bad curly ponytail: Maddie tells me she clearly remembers the guy as a regular from her clubbing days— standing atop the stairway at this nightclub or another back in ’88 or ’89, wearing black lipstick, all coked out, ghosts in his eyes. “He hasn’t changed much, though,” she says, “I mean apart from the goth make-up, thank god, because that would be downright scary!”
I can’t help but nod in agreement: “You have a mighty memory.”

Echo & the Bunnymen are playing São Paulo again and post-punk bands from the isles are bound to attract that sort of audience. It’s my second Bunnymen concert and Maddie’s third or fourth; she’s probably the only other Bunnymen fan I know.

The Bunnymen are playing their most classic album in full, backed by a small six-person orchestra of strings: The songs from 1984’s Ocean Rain are moody with a somber, heavy tempo and the lyrics are mostly overwrought save for the Singles— it’s an album to be listened at night, in the dark, by yourself, but whenever the Bunnymen play live they play with very strong guitars and a deep bassline— and the audience goes absolutely crazy.
And this time, though, differently from the Bon Jovi concert last week, I actually know the words.

Once the show starts Maddie is dancing right in front of me: She dances softly with her eyes closed, in quiet introspection, her arms wrapped around her body— quite the opposite to my jumping around like a spastic fifteen year old, shouting and yelling and screaming all the time.

Maddie is married, though, and her husband looks just like Brad Pitt— so once she ties her aforementioned long, straight strawberry-blond hair up in a bun behind her head and a trickle of sweat runs down the exposed back of her neck, I’m relegated to just imagining how nibbling at her earlobes must feel like— I can taste the salt of her sweat on my tongue just as I can taste the metaphors from Ian McCulloch’s drunken crooning onstage: Another week, another playing the heterosexual gay friend at a rock concert for a hot chick.

Then sure: I’ll text-message Alyx once the show’s through now that she’s back in town and I’ll ask her if she’s up for something tonight. She’ll tell me she’s already tucked in beneath a pile of comforters and maybe another day, who knows. Then I’ll just shrug with indifference and give Maddie the once-over for the umpteenth time as we leave the concert hall through the parking lot, to look for a cab home: She’ll light up a cigarette and lean against the wire fence by the sidewalk, looking sexy as hell as she buttons up her black overcoat against the late-night cold wind.

And from the lyrics to tonight’s Ocean Rain, then:
“All hands on deck at dawn /
Sailing to sadder shores /
Your port in my heavy storms /
Harbours the blackest thoughts.”