Eels at First Avenue, 10/03/10

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photo by: Steve Cohen
Eels mastermind Mark Oliver Everett clearly was in no mood on Sunday night to admit that summer was indeed over, turning back the calendar with both his song selection and his sunny demeanor during a spirited 95-minute set that made everyone in attendance forget about the recent chill in the air and just enjoy the moment while it lasted. Despite having a back catalog filled with rather somber, reflective numbers (especially recently), E and his stellar four-piece backing band were in a festive, raucous mood throughout their 25-song performance, throwing Popsicles as well as positive energy at the wildly receptive First Avenue crowd, creating an uproarious vibe that had everyone smiling by the end of the show.

Everett came out solo for the first number, a tender version of "Daisies Of The Galaxy" that got the show off to a somewhat languid start. He was soon joined by Chet Lyster on guitar (introduced on this evening as "The Chet") for "Little Bird" and a moving version of "End Times," during which Chet switched to a pedal-steel guitar. But it wasn't until the rest of the band joined them on a rousing version of "Prizefighter" before the show truly took off, and from that moment on the night was pure magic.

"Gone Man" was sandwiched in between two stellar covers, "She Said Yeah," by the Rolling Stones, and Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer In The City," before which E enthusiastically asked the crowd: "Everyone having a good summer? Oh, Chet just informed me that summer ended weeks ago. What do you say we extend summer a bit. C'mon fellas, lets pull some more summer out of our asses." And they certainly did, as "Summer In The City" was rollicking and blissful, just like any song about the summer should be.

The set did occasionally downshift a bit towards E's more melancholy material, with "In My Younger Days" and "Spectacular Girl," giving the audience a chance to catch their breath a bit. But it was the lively, boisterous songs that truly resonated the strongest on this night, with a bluesy version of "Tremendous Dynamite" "Jungle Telegraph," and a haunting "Fresh Blood" standing out as clear highlights. The latter song found the stage bathed in red and Everett howling at the moon as the strobe lights erupted around him. The performance was so dynamic, it was worth the price of admission alone.

"Souljacker Pt. I" was another high point of the set, featuring an extended, feedback laced breakdown that either built up the tension of the song or tested your auditory patience, depending on how much you were enjoying the performance. E stood stock still staring straight at the floor while his guitar screeched loudly for a couple of minutes, before the song kicked back in again for its exhilarating climax.

Before introducing the band, Everett emphatically stated that: "Just like you, ladies and gentleman, they are bringing it tonight. You've obviously heard the end of Abbey Road, and it's working! The love you take is equal to the love you make." And with that, he introduced The Chet, "P-Boo" (guitar), who is the "new kid in town, like a baby doe, unsure of where he's going but it looks promising," Kool G Murder (Rusty Loggsdon) on bass, and Knuckles (Derek Brown) on drums. Despite their humorous stagenames, this first-rate band was tight and absolutely on point all evening.

After a vigorous rendition of "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues," which found the band blending the song splendidly with the melody from "Twist And Shout," the group delivered a Latin-tinged rendition of the Gershwin classic "Summertime," which found E throwing Popsicles into the crowd as he bounced around the stage, taking a knee like Elvis while he beatboxed the breakdown to the song. It was as fun as music can be, really, that is if I would've caught one of those Popsicles to enjoy during the encore.

And it was during the encore that the show lost a bit of its momentum, as the band made us wait an exorbitant amount of time before returning to the stage. Thankfully, the stirring version of "That's Not Her Way" more than made up for the wait, before the band unfortunately left again. So, we waited once more, before they eventually came back out for "I Like The Way This Is Going," which closed out the set. As Everett was leaving the stage, he shouted "You indeed are a kickass audience, let's do this again sometime soon." Obviously, as the winter months inevitably settle around this city, we will all be in need of another dose of E's eternal summer.

Critic's Bias: A fan at the beginning, and a fan of Eels recent work, but I fell off a bit during the middle-years for some unknown reason.

The Crowd: Quite a large audience for a Sunday night, all there to catch a glimpse of the enigmatic Mr. E.

Overheard In The Crowd: "How can he even see what he's playing up there?"

Random Notebook Dump: The stark stage set was adorned with just a lone, revolving trophy, and I joked that it was awarded to the Best Beard in Rock, as Everett's (and Kool G Murder's) were truly something to behold.

Setlist:

  1. Daisies Of The Galaxy
  2. Little Bird
  3. End Times
  4. Prizefighter
  5. She Said Yeah (The Rolling Stones)
  6. Gone Man
  7. Summer In The City (Lovin' Spoonful)
  8. Tremendous Dynamite
  9. In My Dreams
  10. In My Younger Days
  11. Paradise Blues
  12. Jungle Telegraph
  13. My Beloved Monster
  14. Spectacular Girl
  15. Fresh Blood
  16. Dog Faced Boy
  17. That Look You Gave That Guy
  18. Souljacker Pt. I
  19. Talkin' Bout Knuckles
  20. Mr. E's Beautiful Blues
  21. I Like Birds
  22. Summertime (George Gershwin)
  23. Looking Up
  24. That's Not Her Way (Encore)
  25. I Like The Way This Is Going (Second Encore)

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