NEWS OF THE WORLD
EELS at Academy, Birmingham
August 26, 2010
"Eels really are electric"
EELS, O2 Academy, Glasgow
August 27, 2010
by Catriona Stewart
With Eels, an audience never knows quite who they’re going to get
Both the line-up and the temperament of the band, from desolation to revelation, change from album to album and tour to tour. Sometimes E appears surrounded by a mini-orchestra of brass and strings, sometimes he is nearly alone, gruff voiced and torturing a guitar. This time he is dressed in a white boiler suit and bandana, his face obscured by a half-foot beard, and he takes to the stage with just a tight group of guitarists and a drummer.
Having constantly produced work since his first record, a solo effort, was released in 1992 Mark Oliver Everett (E to his friends) can never be accused of idleness. Indeed, in little more than a year he has released three albums –Hombre Lobo, End Times, and Tomorrow Morning– and is currently undertaking a 50-show world tour. Everett’s choice of songs takes the audience from his crooked childhood along the skewed road to adulthood and disaster, with which the singer is intimately acquainted. Briefly, Everett’s mother died of cancer, his physicist father died young, his sister committed suicide and his cousin perished in one of the 9/11 flights. A depressive, E is up on this tour. All the way up. He rocks and bounces through songs of nostalgia and gallows humour, bouyantly presenting his chamber rock and jazz with all its nuances.
Battered, defiant, clever and beautiful by turns, he take us through a thorough taster of his extensive back catalogue give fresh make-overs to old, old songs such as My Beloved Monster. Three encores later the crowd refuse to budge until lights up spells out the message Eels are done. For tonight, that is.
EELS, Academy, Glasgow
August 28, 2010
By David Pollock
LIFE has been spectacularly unkind to Eels core member Mark 'E' Everett, with the pain of unexpected deaths in the family (his father and mother, his sister's suicide, his cousin's death on one of the 9/11 planes) fueling his already depressive nature. This has made for some sparse and unhappy music over the years, but this year's latest album, Tomorrow Morning - part of a triptych released since mid-2009 - contains some of the most upbeat and optimistic music of his career.
This newfound joie de vivre has translated itself into his current live set, and at the Academy in Glasgow there was even a cheeky visual joke to get us all in the right frame of mind. From a distance, it was hard to tell what Everett was wearing. It was either a white boiler suit or a crumpled shirt and trousers, but anyway - that wasn't what caught the attention. Instead it was the mountainous dark beard, the black sunglasses and the navy bandana wrapped around his head. Amusingly, each of the four members of his sharply suited band were also wearing beards, shades and headgear of some sort - a bit of conceptual styling that must have taken some forethought, given the length of some of the facial hair on display.
Everett seemed to be having great fun. "The band are all wearing tartan ties for you," he said at one point. "I'm sorry I couldn't find a tartan bandana."
The gig was a bit of a marathon, clocking in at 27 songs if you count all three of the encores. Among the set were Eels classics Souljacker Part 1 and Mr E's Beautiful Blues, although their breakthrough days of the mid-90s were completely ignored in favour of newer material. From last year's Hombre Lobo came Prizefighter and Fresh Blood, while Tomorrow Morning's Spectacular Girl, That's Not Her Way and I Like the Way This is Going sparkled with a certain kind of contented romance, while Looking Up is a slice of joyous gospel funk. Covers of The Lovin' Spoonful's Summer in the City and George Gershwin's Summertime were also crammed in, played with pace, energy and almost manic good-time feeling.
EELS, Brixton Academy, London
September 1, 2010
by Caroline Sullivan
A Dutch fansite, one of several that track the life and music of Mark Everett's Eels, asserts: "Anyone who has ever witnessed a concert by Eels will tell you it has changed their lives." There's a kernel of truth in this: it would have been nigh-on impossible to see Eels' London show, part of an extensive tour to promote a trilogy of albums released in the last 14 months, and not feel the world was a better place for having Everett in it. His fans are so passionate he could have stood there and read from his autobiography (which he did a couple of tours ago) and still have wowed them, but tonight he plunged straight into the music, creating a set that was 100% visceral rock'n'roll. For a character who's made a career of chronicling an inordinately sad life, he seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.
From a strictly musical viewpoint, he and his band – who, like Everett, all wore mountain-man beards and shades, although Everett stood out in an all-white suit – were a joy. Nimbly jumping between 50s garage rock, roadhouse blues and swampy distortion, they brilliantly complemented Everett's black-humoured lyrics and off-kilter frontman antics. They abetted him in corny ways, too, making That Look You Give That Guy as sardonically soft-rocky as possible ("If I could be that guy-yi-yi", they chirped during the chorus) and weaving the ancient staple Twist and Shout into Mr E's Beautiful Blues.
Everett himself was a werewolf-cum-rock star, howling, "I need fresh blood!" on the swirling voodoo number Fresh Blood, pirouetting during Summertime and repeatedly barking Baby Loves Me's refrain – "My baby loves me/ Unlikely but true" – as if repetition would make it so. Finally spent, he left the stage saying: "Let's do this again some time." Sounds like a fine idea.
EELS, Brixton Academy, SW9
Eels arrived late, left their mid-1990s hits off the set list and played with the polite demeanour of a wedding band. The singer Mark "E" Everett spoke only once, an hour in, to introduce his four, smartly-suited musicians. No one smiled, yet the gig was far from glum. In fact, this was a reinvigorated Eels, fronted by a man poking fun at his downbeat image, with a great band clearly in on the joke.
Had any one smiled, it would have been hard to tell - Eels are currently in competition to grow the bushiest beard. E was the winner, the forest on his face accessorised by sunglasses, a dark bandana and a blindingly white boiler suite. He looked an escaped convict from a comedy film, trying so hard to go incognito that he stuck out like a sore thumb. Eels' obsessives like to link E's appearance to his well documented depression. To judge by the lightness of the show, he's more likely having a laugh.
Eels' current album, Tomorrow Morning, is the final installment of a triptych devoted to his divorce. The songs are the sunniest of the singer's career: lyrically, he's blinking into a future bathed in bright light; musically, the electronica-tinged tunes come close to chirpy. Live, with a lengthy set list that leant heavily on all three albums, but also dipped back a decade, E opted for either a sweet, folksy sound or boisterous blues-rock.
He started solo, before being joined by his sidekick, the Chet, playing pedal steel guitar on 3 speed and End Times, reworked as finger-picked ditties. The full band arrived for Prizefighter, which began a run of raucous rock and boogie blues that included a good-time cover of the Lovin' Spoonful's Summer In The City, and a monstrous SoulJacker (Part 1). There were nods to Springsteen and touches of heavy metal, Mr E's Beautiful Blues was blended with Twist and Shout and a cover of George Gershwin's Summertime slotted in effortlessly.
Before the first of three encores E handed out ice lollies. He may look like a man you'd avoid after dark but, behind the disguise, he seems a sweetie.
THE EVENING STANDARD
EELS, Brixton Academy
September 1, 2010
By David Smyth
Mark ‘E’ Everett, the extensively bearded derelict behind Eels, has a long and miserable personal history of deaths and divorce trailing behind him. As well as a deluge of heartbroken songs, he even published what must be indie rock’s first misery memoir, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, in 2008. So it was lovely to hear him brightening up a bit on last week’s new album, Tomorrow Morning, the final installment of a rapidly released trilogy that also includes the unremittingly bleak End Times. In concert too, though still uncommunicative and inclined towards heavy, distorted rock, this jumpsuited hairball came close to being perky.
Arriving on stage to the wistful strings of Disney’s When You Wish Upon a Star, he went on to cover The Lovin’ Spoonful’s sweltering classic Summer in the City, incorporate Twist and Shout into his already cheery hit Mr E’s Beautiful Blues, and hurl ice lollies into the crowd like a football mascot. Some new songs had an unmistakable joie de vivre, such as the fizzing gospel of Looking Up and triumphant yelping of Baby Loves Me. Elsewhere he favoured his noisiest numbers, including the wolf howls of Fresh Blood and the explosive riffing of Tremendous Dynamite.
When a more sensitive song did appear, it was all the more impactful for the ruckus around it. The searingly honest lines in That Look You Give That Guy gripped hard. Yet things could never have become too serious with a drummer called Knuckles and a fusty looking bassist named Koool G Murder on stage.
It was hard to tell beneath all that face furniture, but here and there Everett may even have cracked a smile.
EELS, Brixton Academy, London
By Enjoli Liston
Under the white utility-style jumpsuit, the dark blue bandana, the shades and the mammoth beard is E, the enigmatic frontman (and first letter) of Californian indie-rockers Eels.
Jogging onto the stage to "When You Wish upon a Star", eccentricity becomes him. Far from the picture-perfect world of Disney theme tunes, though, E and his music are no strangers to heartache – and E has had more than his fair share of life's tragedies. His sister's suicide and mother's death fueled 1998's Electro-Shock Blues, he lost friends in 9/11, and now he is on tour showcasing End Times, Eels' eighth album, which E has described as his "divorce album".
He warmly invites the crowd to "Take heart, my little friend/ And push back your seat/ Soon we'll be far away" as he opens with the twinkling story-book innocence of "Daisies of the Galaxy". It's the bright title track of Eels' 2000 album, which was famously condemned by an aide on Bush's presidential campaign for supposedly corrupting youth with expletives hidden in nursery-rhyme packaging. It serves as a taste of Eels' musical ethos. There can be sunny survival, though heartache and sadness are never far behind.
Poignancy is Eels' specialty, and its epitome comes on the beautifully delivered new track "In My Younger Days", where E's strong but soft, husky voice sings, "And I don't need any more misery/ To teach me what I should be/ I just need you back".
Not every number is an ode to doom and gloom. The band rip through a cover of Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City". "Monster and Me", famously used in the soundtrack to Shrek, is given an upbeat treatment whilst "Mr E's Beautiful Blues" could be playing through a jukebox in an American 1950s diner.
In true Eels style, after the sun comes pain, as strobe lighting and harsh guitar notes on "Fresh Blood" are inflicted on the crowd. Fingers reach for ears, but before they can make it, the song ends and the fans erupt with appreciation.
EELS at Le National, September 28, 2010
By Bernard Perusse
On an unusually warm night for late September, E was clearly still thinking about summer during the Eels concert at Le National last night. Two of the three songs the singer-songwriter covered during one of the year's noisiest and hardest-rocking concerts were the Lovin' Spoonful classic Summer in the City and Billy Stewart's exuberant version of the Gershwin evergreen Summertime.
At one point during the 95-minute set, the man of the hour even threw what looked like popsicles into the audience.
But not all was sunshine pop. E, ne Mark Oliver Everett, has a dark moment to match every time joy breaks through. That delicate balance was reflected in the way savage rave-ups frequently alternated with raspy ballads last night. It was a finely shaded performance, with cloud and light taking turns at the controls. E came on alone alone and strummed Grace Kelly Blues. "I think you know I'll be OK," he sang, before calling out for his guitarist The Chet.
But was he OK? With The Chet (rechristened Le Chet in Montreal) on lead guitar and pedal steel, he followed up with the sad, lonely and touching Little Bird and the desolate, haunting End Times.
And just like that, it was time to rock, as the rest of the latest batch of Eels --- bassist Koool G. Murder, guitarist P-Boo and drummer Knuckles --- plugged in with a vengeance on the driving Prizefighter and Larry Williams's She Said Yeah, via the Rolling Stones supercharged remake.
What a band! Songs from the recent trilogy of Eels discs, Hombre Lobo, End Times and Tomorrow Morning, dominated the concert and grew in volume and edge --- even the ballads. For that, you can credit the musicians: the lockstep synergy between the crisply efficient backbeat master Knuckles and the economical, but muscular bassist Murder was a joy to hear in My Beloved Monster, especially with three guitars wailing away on top.
Granted, it was an Eels crowd: the facial hair on all five musicians was a given, but there was just as much of a razor boycott going on in the audience. Yet there was more than fandom driving the show: every song seemed elevated from its original studio context through the forceful interaction and freakishly precise ensemble playing of the musicians.
And their tight economy was not a chain. At times, in fact, the Eels version of sweet soul music and punky garage rock seemed in danger of being overtaken by the jagged dissonance of a Captain Beefheart as the arrangements escalated in go-for-broke aggression.
The band, however, was able to stay the course --- even with the nasty riffs, the strobe-lit howling at the moon and the unexpected soul- stirring melodies that make an Eels concert.
TWIN CITIES DAILY PLANET
October 04, 2010
By Leslie Kruempel
Eels and Jesca Hoop stir up the right kind of trouble at First Avenue
It's always a nice surprise when a concert turns out to be much more fun than you expected it to be. Sunday night's Eels and Jesca Hoop show in the First Avenue Mainroom fit that bill all around.
I'm not easily taken by a single girl on stage with a guitar, but Hoop delivered a set of songs and stories charming enough to make me look forward to what was coming next in her 35-minute set. She wore five long feathers in her hair (purchased at a bait and tackle shop, apparently), and her voice often percolated above the willowy melodies into birdlike chirping.
It was clear Jesca is influenced by singers like Joanna Newsom and Björk. The Björk-like stylings were especially apparent on "Angel Mom," a touching piece about her own mother, a "real clean-cut woman" who never broke the rules. That is, as Hoop told it, until she got cancer and her children convinced her to try smoking pot for the first time. Her brother packed some up in a peanut butter jar and shipped it in the mail. "Have you ever gotten high with your mom over the phone?" Hoop asked. "We had a conversation like we've never had before. I hung up and wrote this song." Her stories from stage were much like her music: sweet yet slightly heartbreaking. She seemed a bit self-conscious about playing without her band, but I thought she did just fine on her own, and the songs definitely held their ground with just her voice and guitar to support them.
As the lights dimmed for Eels, an instrumental version of "When You Wish Upon a Star" played all the way through before Mark Oliver Everett took the stage. I was expecting quirky and I got quirky: he wore white coveralls, his face barely visible through a black bandana, sunglasses, and a massive beard. By the fourth song, "Prizefighter," four more bearded men with sunglasses joined him on stage, all clad in different variations of dressy white and black threads. They looked the way rock stars should look: ready to roll into town and cause some trouble.
Everett's voice came through just as gritty as it sounds on record. I especially liked it contrasted against the swoony pedal steel guitar on songs like "End Times." While they interwove those softer, ballads throughout the set, the full-band rollicking rock numbers were really where the action was at. Everett assembled a top-notch band to play around him, and they were able to pull off both sounds with ease and conviction. While they played newer songs like "Spectacular Girl" closer to the record versions, it was most fun to hear newer arrangements of some of their older stuff like "Jungle Telegraph" and "Dog Faced Boy." The highlight of the evening for me was when the stage was flooded in red light for the an especially sexy delivery of "Fresh Blood." It made me wonder what kind of trouble the band were going to stir up once the show was over.
MINNEAPOLIS CITY PAGES
EELS at First Avenue, October 3, 2010
By Erik Thompson
Eels mastermind Mark Oliver Everett clearly was in no mood on Sunday night to admit that summer was indeed over, turning back the calendar with both his song selection and his sunny demeanor during a spirited 95-minute set that made everyone in attendance forget about the recent chill in the air and just enjoy the moment while it lasted. Despite having a back catalog filled with rather somber, reflective numbers (especially recently), E and his stellar four-piece backing band were in a festive, raucous mood throughout their 25-song performance, throwing Popsicles as well as positive energy at the wildly receptive First Avenue crowd, creating an uproarious vibe that had everyone smiling by the end of the show.
Everett came out solo for the first number, a tender version of "Daisies Of The Galaxy" that got the show off to a somewhat languid start. He was soon joined by Chet Lyster on guitar (introduced on this evening as "The Chet") for "Little Bird" and a moving version of "End Times," during which Chet switched to a pedal-steel guitar. But it wasn't until the rest of the band joined them on a rousing version of "Prizefighter" before the show truly took off, and from that moment on the night was pure magic.
"Gone Man" was sandwiched in between two stellar covers, "She Said Yeah," by the Rolling Stones, and Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer In The City," before which E enthusiastically asked the crowd: "Everyone having a good summer? Oh, Chet just informed me that summer ended weeks ago. What do you say we extend summer a bit? C'mon fellas, lets pull some more summer out of our asses." And they certainly did, as "Summer In The City" was rollicking and blissful, just like any song about the summer should be.
The set did occasionally downshift a bit towards E's more melancholy material, with "In My Younger Days" and "Spectacular Girl," giving the audience a chance to catch their breath a bit. But it was the lively, boisterous songs that truly resonated the strongest on this night, with a bluesy version of "Tremendous Dynamite" "Jungle Telegraph," and a haunting "Fresh Blood" standing out as clear highlights. The latter song found the stage bathed in red and Everett howling at the moon as the strobe lights erupted around him. The performance was so dynamic, it was worth the price of admission alone.
"Souljacker Pt. I" was another high point of the set, featuring an extended, feedback laced breakdown that either built up the tension of the song or tested your auditory patience, depending on how much you were enjoying the performance. E stood stock still staring straight at the floor while his guitar screeched loudly for a couple of minutes, before the song kicked back in again for its exhilarating climax.
Before introducing the band, Everett emphatically stated that: "Just like you, ladies and gentleman, they are bringing it tonight. You've obviously heard the end of Abbey Road, and it's working! The love you take is equal to the love you make." And with that, he introduced The Chet, "P-Boo" (guitar), who is the "new kid in town, like a baby doe, unsure of where he's going but it looks promising," Koool G Murder (Rusty Loggsdon) on bass, and Knuckles (Derek Brown) on drums. Despite their humorous stagenames, this first-rate band was tight and absolutely on point all evening.
After a vigorous rendition of "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues," which found the band blending the song splendidly with the melody from "Twist And Shout," the group delivered a Latin-tinged rendition of the Gershwin classic "Summertime," which found E throwing Popsicles into the crowd as he bounced around the stage, taking a knee like Elvis while he beatboxed the breakdown to the song. It was as fun as music can be, really, that is if I would've caught one of those Popsicles to enjoy during the encore.
And it was during the encore that the show lost a bit of its momentum, as the band made us wait an exorbitant amount of time before returning to the stage. Thankfully, the stirring version of "That's Not Her Way" more than made up for the wait, before the band unfortunately left again. So, we waited once more, before they eventually came back out for "I Like The Way This Is Going," which closed out the set. As Everett was leaving the stage, he shouted "You indeed are a kickass audience, let's do this again sometime soon." Obviously, as the winter months inevitably settle around this city, we will all be in need of another dose of E's eternal summer.
EELS at The Henry Fonda Theater Music Box
Wed., Oct. 13
By Molly Bergen
The mysterious E
Last night a man in a white jumpsuit with a giant ZZ Top beard, sunglasses, and a bandanna walked out on the stage with a powder blue guitar and grinned at his audience as the faint strains of "When You Wish Upon a Star" faded from the speakers. One would think that after nine albums, the audience would have some clue as to what Mark Oliver Everett (otherwise known as E. the creator of the Eels) was going to do next, but if there's anything E. hates most it's being predictable.
Shrouded in a cloak of mystery, E. doesn't like interviews, often refuses to have photographers shoot near him, makes up false set lists just to throw people off, and has been known to do encores after the house lights have come up and half the audience has gone home. He was going to do things his way and damned be the consequences. So what happened? E. launched into a set that was which mainly comprised of his last three albums which were all released in the past two years. These three albums are part of a concept trilogy that explore all the undesirable parts of a love affair, beginning with fiery lust and swagger (Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire), the shattering heartbreak of loss (End Times), and the achingly painful road to redemption (Tomorrow Morning). Fitting all of these into one set gave it a slightly schizophrenic feel, swooping from one extreme to another.
E. started the set slowly, wooing the crowd with his first song "What I Have To Offer" off his latest album Tomorrow Morning which promised that although he didn't care about football or fishing he was full of love for you, baby. Usually such lines would fall flat, but Everett's voice, rough as sandpaper, gives his lyrics an unmistakably honest quality (whether deserved or not it's unclear) that makes it sound as if he would give his last breath just so you would understand how he feels.
To compliment that beauty, E. was joined by guitarist Chet (disclaimer: these were the band names given) who joined him on pedal steel which's haunting chords gave "End of Times" a desperate quality. Then as soon as we were lulled into a false sense of security, BAM! Three more dapper, bearded band members joined the stage and we were pulled from the pit of despair bemoaning the end of the world into the strutting glory of "The Prizefighter" in which E. brags about being a "go all nighter." The entire set wove between these two contrasting ideas. His protagonists were either conquering love or in full retreat. There was nothing halfway, either it was the end of the world and there was nothing left to live for ("In My Younger Days") or the bright beginning ("Spectacular Girl") full of promise. The combining effect was a little unsettling, but never dull.
Then just in case anyone had any doubts about his rocking ability, E. announced we were going to party like it was Saturday night and the band broke into a rousing cover of Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer In The City." Also sprinkled in between the new tunes were reworked old favorites including "My Beloved Monster" which was turned into a party jam and "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues" which the crowd joined in the chorus and a unified roar, "Goddamn right, it's a beautiful day." The set ended on a high note with the Eels latest single "Looking Up" a rousing gospel influenced tune which had the whole crowd clapping along followed by two encores.
As the crowd filtered out into the cool October air, I couldn't help but wonder where E. was going to take us next. If desire, love, and despair had all been fully covered, what will he write about? I'm pulling for social justice and human rights. A storyteller that gifted should be able to pen a few of those.