Monday, March 11, 2013

Eels at The Vic Theater, Chicago - 2/23/13


I'll start this review off by admitting I've been a little out of the loop with Eels over the past seven years. The trilogy of releases in 2009 and 2010 didn't connect with me like with many fans. And the latest - Wonderful, Glorious although a welcome return still didn't floor me like 2005's amazing - Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. Still I really love Mark Oliver Everett (aka: E) and the gang and continue to see them in concert and check out every bit of new music I can find.

On Saturday night, the Eels took the stage in some of the niftiest stage costumes I've seen in a long time - Blue Striped Adidas Tracksuits straight out of the 80's, and Aviator Sunglasses! Band members - E, The Chet, P Boo, Kool G Murder, and Knuckles were not to be messed with as they walked on stage one by one; opening the show with an impending wall of feedback, and bombastic drums that led into the first track off the new album - "Bombs Away". With E playing the rain stick, "Bombs Away" sounded every bit as energetic and fun as the studio version; as was the case on almost all of the songs from Wonderful Glorious.

What I love about the Eels live show is the band's ability to rearrange old songs with every tour. They don't simply play the same songs every night, performing them note for note like the studio renditions. Instead old songs are re-imagined to sound like they were just written last week. Tonight, "Dirty Girl" was played slower with E stretching the syllables out of every note. "Fresh Feeling" was given a more jangly, feel good, summertime vibe. While "Trouble with Dreams" wasn't as punchy but took on a jammier noise rock theme between verses. 

Not only were these new renditions surprising but so were the choice of cover songs. The band showcased their instrumental prowess and delved into Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" which featured P-Boo and The Chet trading off bluesy guitar solos and E singing in his perfect raspy growl; and "Itchykoo Park" by the Small Faces which is 60's pop at its' finest and sadly somewhat unknown in America. Between songs, Everett took the time to congratulate each members of the band for a job well done, yelling "Good Job!" into the mic, and sprinting off "the singer's riser" to give celebratory bear hugs.

The Eels put on a great show but also never took themselves too seriously. During band introductions, Everett talked about receiving an "electronic mail" the other day from guitarist - The Chet. In it, The Chet announced that it was the tenth year that the two of them had been playing music together. To mark the occasion, E and The Chet renewed their vows onstage, while drummer - Knuckles performed a romantic impromptu performance of "Wind Beneath My Wings". The gig ended with not one, but three encores including one with the house lights on, and half the audience cleared out of the venue. 

Set List

Bombs Away
Kinda Fuzzy
Dog Faced Boy
Oh Well
Tremendous Dynamite
In My Dreams
On the Ropes
Dirty Girl
Climbing to the Moon
Peach Blossom
Trouble with Dreams
The Turnaround
New Alphabet
Fresh Feeling
The Sound of Fear
Wind Beneath My Wings -->Go Knuckles
Itchykoo Park
Souljacker Part 1
Wonderful Glorious

Encore 1 
Brave Little Soldier
My Beloved Monster/Mr. E's Beautiful Blues

Encore 2 
Fresh Blood

Encore 3 
Stick Together
Go Eels

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