EVERY bit as slippery a proposition as their name implies, it was a very different Eels that swam into Glasgow on Tuesday compared to the last time they visited, both sonically and sartorially. Gone were the uniform tracksuits and shades and big garage rock guitars.
Eels - Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
In support of new album The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, in came a group in more stripped down, restrained, semi-acoustic mood, sporting a getup comprising sharp suits contrasted with straggly hair and beards, giving the Californian fivesome the curious appearance of businessmen from a town with no barbershop.
Appropriate to the concert hall setting – which Eels fulcrum Everett with typical tongue-in-cheek deadpan jest grumbled “smells like underwear” – their “sweet soft bummer rock” was decorated with orchestral flourish, including upright bass, trumpet, piano, glockenspiel, vibraphone, timpani and tubular bells. A first-half heavy on deep-cuts getting in deep with Eels’ unique brand of transcendent, dark-humour-dappled sadness included songs successively introduced as being “a total bummer” (A Line In the Dirt, a song about Everett going to the loo in the garden again because his girlfriend’s locked herself in the bathroom, again), and “next level bummer” (It’s A Motherf****r).
Forlornly pretty as everything sounded, more prime material and pronounced variations of mood and pace wouldn’t have hurt. But there were still several glorious moments, such as when Everett waded into the audience for hugs, before returning for a slowed-down, threadbare Last Stop: This Town and a cover of Can’t Help Falling In Love With You. Rarely has abject misery felt so strangely entertaining.
Seen on 17.06.14