Let Me Entertain You: eels @ World Cafe Live 9.22.10

Having seen the eels at the First Unitarian Church a few years ago, I knew how Mark Oliver Everett loves to put on a strange, strange show.  This one was no different, from the PA’s pre- and in between-set assortment of easy listening rock n’ roll covers to Jersey ventriloquist John Pizzi serving as one of the openers (and the grating Jesca Hoop being the other), the concert was an odd one even before E and his group took the stage.

Unlike that Church show, this one boasted a four-man support combo, three of which are longtime collaborators.  Too often, E gets accused of being a perennial sadsack.  Sure, many of his lyrics deal with intense emotions and personal loss, but he’s also allowed himself to let loose every once in a while.  His latest album, Tomorrow Morning, offers a bounty of such upbeat material, and it’s no surprise that many of the new songs, notably “Looking Up” and “Spectacular Girl,” made their way into set.

If you’ve kept up with E’s strange journey over the last year or so, you’re well aware of the trajectory of the three albums he’s released in that time.  First was Hombre Lobo, which also contributed a number of tunes to last night’s show.  The growling “Fresh Blood” and the primal stomp of “Prizefighter” were particularly enjoyable in the sea of red lights that flooded the stage.  Few songs from the languid End Times were present, but it’s just as well because that album’s dour introspection hardly jives with where E’s head is at these days.

Along with the new songs were the favorites from the eels’ songbook.  Being the musical busybody he is, E wasn’t content just to run through all his old tunes the same old way: “My Beloved Monster” got a rave-up makeover, “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues” was rearranged to the tune of “Twist And Shout” and the delicate “I Like Birds” was banged out as a punk rocker.  “Souljacker Pt. I” and Dog Faced Boy” didn’t need to be altered; they rock out loud anyway.

A couple of seasonal covers were peppered in, too, namely “Summer In The City” and Gershwin’s “Summertime,” the latter tweaked to be a soul-funk workout.  During “Summertime,” E reached into a portable cooler at the back of the stage, produced a handful of Otter Pops and joyously dispensed the frozen treats into the audience.  That simple expression of cheer sums up quite neatly what eels are about these days.  Yeah, E can be overly dramatic sometimes, but he can also embody the child inside all of us.  The beardy, white Dickies-wearing child.

Click the picture at the top of this post to see more pictures of eels in concert!!

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~ by E. on September 24, 2010.

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