Live Review: Eels @ Moore Theater 10/9

photos by Chad Syme

On a rainy, disgusting wet mess of a Saturday night, The Eels, Mark Oliver Everett and his cohorts tried their best to make the inside of The Moore Theater as sunny carefree as ever, opposing the weather outside as well as the relative gloominess of much of The Eels catalog, especially End Times which appeared most recently as part of an album trilogy with Tomorrow Morning and Hombre Lobo. Even going so far as tossing out popsicles to people closest to the stage who got up out of those stiff theater seats and danced until the very last song.

The Silverlake, Los Angeles-area based Eels have an ever changing roster, but the spine of the Eels is Mark Oliver Everett, otherwise known as E. Heavily influenced by the rock and roll music his late sister introduced to him, he ventured into solo work as A Man Called E. Upon the fateful meeting between he and Butch Norton, drummer, and Bassist Tommy Walter that gave the name the Eels a place in the record store. As the first band on the newly formed, now defunct Dreamworks label, the 1996 debut of Beautiful freak captured the hearts of the indie set nationwide – especially with the hit, “Novocaine for the Soul.” A short time later, tragedy struck, and Everett cathartically wrote and released to the hungry masses Electro-Shock Blues. The sophomore effort brought in troves of guest artists such as Grant Lee Buffalo and Lisa Germano. Amidst solo projects and rumors, E’s creativity cup boiled over, and more releases came about — some within less than a year of each other. The Eels have tickled the soundtracks in a lot of major motion pictures, American Beauty, Shrek, Road Trip, and the latest was the Jim Carrey rom-com Yes Man, which featured a smattering of old and new Eels throughout the film. and may be the reason if you haven’t already heard of them, you actually have.

After an opening act by Jesca Hoop, lights stayed low while “When You Wish Upon a Star” introduced E onto the stage. against a powder blue backdrop, wearing a fitted white jumpsuit, do-rag, sunglasses, and an epic brown beard, the only part of Mark Oliver Everett was his nose poking out like a sore thumb. Just a guy and his baby blue electric guitar, he opened with the “Railroad Man” from Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, a rolling, simple song, with a melancholic air. “Grace Kelly Blues” followed, and “Three Speed” concluded the miniature set. Just when I was drawn in, charmed by the nostalgic feelings bubbling up from the heartedly crafted melodies, and soothing vocals, the rest of The Eels come out and knocked my socks off. The raucous cover of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” was meant, as E exclaimed following his solo moves, to resist the urges of fall and the crummy Seattle weather and pretend it was still summer somewhere. A sparse backdrop psychedelically transitioned from blue to red to yellow and mixtures of the three as the music went on — nostalgia aplenty with a 1960’s Ed Sullivan show simplicity. Coupled with E’s retro 1970’s style and the groovy banter that he threw in between songs made for a surreal night. A lot of the big hits were tweaked, “I Like Birds,” an originally stripped down and easygoing song was amped up and on speed. “Last Stop: This Town” and “My Beloved Monster,” songs that exploded onto the mainstream thanks to films like Shrek and Road Trip, were played to the tune of popular 60s pop music, nearly unrecognizable to unfamiliar with their work. The house band style riffing and jamming between songs, and stilted interaction between band members emulated a variety show, and while every turn and tempo change was as confusing as slipping down a time warping rabbit hole, the effortless talent, energy and enthusiasm beaming from The Eels performance was all about fun, and we were having it. Then, late in the set, when all sensibilities have been knocked upside down, E proceeded to introduce his band members. The legendary kool G murder on bass, P-Boo on guitar, and finally, Knuckles the drummer whose headbanging all set seemed inspired by Animal’s performance as drummer for Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, being nothing but a blur of blond locks behind a drum kit. His intro broke out into an emphatically played theme song for the man himself, leading to a phenomenal drum solo.

Just when you think you know what to expect, this is the band that will prove you all wrong, and they successfully put the nail in the unpredictable coffin by breaking out a cover of “Summertime” close to the end of the show. The Eels played a mix of some old and new tunes, spanning the repertoire from Beautiful Freak to Tomorrow Morning, and breaking the routine of a typical album tour. After fourteen years of entertaining, touring, and working nonstop who can blame E for cutting lose?

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