Eels at First Avenue, 2/22/13
|Photos By Erik Hess|
"So, that just happened. That was quite emotional," joked E as the ceremony drew to a close with an impromptu cover of "Wind Beneath My Wings." He went on to finish the intros by teasing drummer Knuckles by saying "he constantly is writing songs that sing the praises of himself." And as proof, the drummer led the band through "Go Knuckles!" which sounded pretty similar to the old MTV theme. After that humorous interlude, the band got back to playing 'real' songs with another surprising cover, a vigorous take on "Itchycoo Park" by Small Faces. It really brought some focus back to the talented band, and they closed the main set with an explosive rendition of "Souljacker Part 1" and a vivid run through of "Wonderful, Glorious," with E explaining as the band left the stage, "By law we can't play another song."
The long ovation swelled until the band eventually retook the stage for the encore, with E admitting, "I was wrong -- it is legal for us to play some more. Thank you very much, everyone. It's lovely to see you again." And with that, the band eased into a touching take on "I'm Your Brave Little Soldier." But this encore was dominated by an incendiary blending of "My Beloved Monster" with "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues," a lethal musical combination that really rocked the house. As the crowd cheered their approval, E exclaimed, "We did it! That was a lot of fun. I'd like to invite all of the Eels onto the lead singer riser for a group hug." After that triumphant show of solidarity, the band left the stage once again.
But the crowd wouldn't let the night end that way, and continued to cheer for more. The band eventually reappeared, with E admitting, "You're onto us -- we like doing this." The stage was then appropriately bathed in blood red lighting as E led the group through a howling take on "Fresh Blood," with blinding white strobe lights flickering as the song's raucous chorus kicked in. The entire band was adding their own twisted discord to the track's thunderous finish, as the song built to an untamed conclusion which saw the group off once again.
The band's crew then began dismantling the stage setup as most of the crowd filed out of the club, but the house lights never came on, leading some in the audience to think that the show wasn't really over just yet. And sure enough, five minutes later the band returned for a third encore, as they playfully kicked out their crew in order to play another song. The half-deserted main floor quickly filled up with fans who rushed back in once they heard the first rousing strains of "Dog Faced Boy."
It was one last unexpected musical treat for their fans, and a perfect way to bring the night to a close. As the group jubilantly reworked the earlier ode to Knuckles as "Go Eels!," E turned the lyrics around and instructed us all to finally "Go home!" And, after a show as good as that one, we were all ready to do whatever he told us to do.
|Photo By Erik Hess|
Personal Bias: In the early 2000's I discovered that an Eels show is not to be missed, a credo I continue to adhere to over ten years later -- and I haven't been disappointed yet.
The Crowd: A near full-house packed with fans who are also equally under E's musical spell.
Overheard In The Crowd: "We should all go out and buy some tracksuits right after the show."
Random Notebook Dump: The tour-only double live album Tremendous Dynamite was indeed recorded at the last two Eels shows at First Avenue in 2010 and 2011, a nice aural document of two fantastic shows in their own right.
Open My Present
Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac)
On The Ropes
Trouble With Dreams
The Sound Of Fear
Itchycoo Park (Small Faces)
Souljacker Part 1
I'm Your Brave Little Soldier (First Encore)
My Beloved Monster/Mr. E's Beautiful Blues (First Encore)
Fresh Blood (Second Encore)
Dog Faced Boy (Third Encore)
Go Eels! (Third Encore)