Main Eel, Mark Everett (known as E) made a typically dramatic entrance to this gig, part of a short tour to promote
the Eels' new Shootenanny LP. The rest of the band came on stage and started
to play a rudimentary blues riff which was accompanied by harmonica. Where is
that harmonica coming from? - the spotlight fell on E blasting on his harp whilst walking through the aisles from the
back of the venue. He kept blowing till he reached the stage and the gig started
E's 3 piece band all wore similar red uniforms and looked like the stooges who do the fighting for the Joker and the
Riddler in the 60s Batman series. These are also good clothes for a streetwise
early-mid 60s rhythm and blues band which was fitting as the Eels live music nowadays is a kind of very individual take on
60s RnB. The band started with an emphatic series of short songs including a
few covers of which their version of The Beatles' I'm A Loser was a highlight. George
Harrison's spiky guitar solo for this song was played perfectly by the guitarist whose superb style of edgy playing had similarities
to Marc Ribot who has previously played with Elvis Costello and Tom Waits among others.
It was worth coming to the gig just to hear his superb fretwork.
Having said this though, the Eels are more about songs and lyrics than musical virtuosity. Other highlights of the gig included a rocked up version of their first hit Novacaine For The Soul and
an edgy Souljacker, a 3-minute American road movie of a song. For Dog Faced Boy,
another highlight from the Souljacker LP, E stabbed keyboard chords with his left hand while hitting a snare drum with his
right, providing percussive assistance to Butch, his long-standing drummer who is looking very fit after a successful diet.
Most of the songs were short and too the point until they played an extended Love Of The Loved at the end of the main
set where E thanked the audience for their support knowingly tongue in cheek in an ironic way but with genuine warmth and
The band came back for some encores. One tip for an Eel's gig is don't
leave straight away when the lights come up. We stayed in the auditorium along
with some other fans who knowingly moved to the front of the stage and lo, and behold, the band reappeared 5 minutes later
to play a RnB instrumental.
Although the stripped down 4 piece Eels can't produce some of the more intricate sounds of their early Beautiful Freak
and Daisies In The Galaxy LPs, they played excellent idiosyncratic RnB with some superb guitarwork. A very good gig at a great venue.