Eels - O2 Academy
Live Review

Eels – O2 Academy, Liverpool

Mr Mark Oliver Everett, Mr. E for short, is a complex cat. If you read his autobiography ‘Things The Grandchildren Should Know’ then you get a sense of how his seemingly effervescent and happy go lucky stage persona is completely at odds with his troubled psyche.

Written and published in 2008 between releases, the book is a subtle and touching insight into the heart breaking story behind his prolific musical genius. Suicides, drug addictions, domestic abuse – you name it, it’s happened – mostly at an age that nobody should have to face such problems. It’s a pleasure then, despite frequent themes of melancholy and introspection in his musical output, that an Eels live show is a joyous experience. Shedding most of the morose material from the set, tonight’s show is rock and roll personified, albeit from a group of bearded middle aged men wearing matching blue Adidas tracksuits and aviator sunglasses.

Swapping the low-key production of his studio albums for a five piece band featuring three guitarists (i.e. loud and fuzzy) Mr.E and the boys immediately set about destroying the O2 Academy with their opening salvo. 1988’s ‘Cancer For The Cure’ sounds cuttingly fresh and relevant, as does ‘Kinda Fuzzy’ as it explodes out into the audience with E on maraca duty looking like a nerdy version of Liam Gallagher. A cover of Fleetwood Mac’s classic ‘Oh Well’ goes down a storm with the largely more mature crowd in attendance this evening and E laps up the applause with a beaming grin across his face. There’s a sense that here is truly a man who found salvation in rock and roll, and as they hurtle through a full throttle set of Eels classics at breakneck speed, it’s hard not to grin along at the intertwining harmonic guitar solos and first class musicianship.

There’s an easy going camaraderie between E and the band that comes across wonderfully on stage, although a peak at a few other recent performances shows most of this stage act to be rehearsed – maybe those old wounds aren’t quite as healed as they might appear. However, he’s at pains to introduce and praise each band member separately and Knuckles the drummer has his moment in the spotlight with drum-solo ridden romp ‘Go Knuckles!’ sending the assembled throng into chaos.

Quieter moments are ballasted by the sheer beauty of the understated song writing which made Eels famous, with ‘Fresh Feeling’ and ‘That Look You Give That Guy’ being stunning examples that hush the crowd. It’s these vulnerable moments that really endear Everett to his audience, a sensitive soul baring all in front of a thousand people, although he’s not too shy to throw in a few rounds of Let It Be for the folk of Liverpool tonight. A self-proclaimed “mash up” of My Beloved Monster & Me and Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues is an instant crowd pleasure and a perfect end to the set.

The appeal of tonight’s show, and the band in general, is Everett’s aforementioned vulnerability coupled with a knack for melody and hook, deeply emotive lyrics and a fiercely infectious enthusiasm for music. Even the hardiest of souls would find it difficult to argue, this is the way music is meant to be enjoyed.

Venue: O2 Academy, Liverpool
Support Band: Guests

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