JJJJ O2 Academy, Glasgow
Over a 20-year career, Californian indie rockers Eels have maintained a welcome balance of developing a recognisable sound while rarely being predictable. Lugubrious mainman Mark “E” Everett is now back after a “four year nervous breakdown”, attempting to counter negative events at home with some positive reflections.
But at this Independence Day concert, he and his band were in hyped-up, rambunctious rock’n’roll form, reversing the accepted order of play by opening with a couple of carefree covers – the rocking rhythm’n’blues of The Who’s Out in the Street and an indie rock’n’roll reading of Prince’s Raspberry Beret, with heavy duty drums, guitar distortion and the garage band percussion staple of maracas, plus castanets and tambourine.
Complementary Eels fare followed – Bone Dry and Dogfaced Boy both rude reminders that Everett has always tempered the whimsy with outbreaks of righteous rocking. But just as the fired-up crowd were strapping in for the ride, the invitation “Glasgow, are you ready to soft rock?” was issued and presumed accepted with some gruff but twinkling balladry.
And so the dynamic pattern was set for the remainder of proceedings, peppered with Everett’s droll interactions including a bubblegum pop song chosen to acquaint us with new drummer Little Joe.
Such little twists of stagecraft were the sprinkles on top of set highlights such as a heavier, grinding version of debut hit Novocaine for the Soul and the Bo Diddley twang of Souljacker, for which they were briefly joined by opening wag That One Guy.