I went to only my second concert last night (it would have been my third if Massive Attack hadn't cancelled on me a few years ago). The Eels are not a well-known band but one that I became familiar with back at high school when a couple of their songs featured on Max TV regularly. I put the lead singer among Beck, Bjork, Tricky and David Bowie as someone who creates his own trademark music, inhabits it and succeeds on their faithfulness to themselves rather than compromising musically.
When I say The Eels, there is only one true member, with apparently 20 transient band members. The surly gent who is the morbid heart to the band, E, is the writer and frontman is a bit of a character.He also feels very free to be himself, not one to fuss over his appearance or mind bothering people by his incessant cigar smoking. The songs are generally musically simple but touchingly lyrical.
On the whole, the concert was wonderful except for the neverending wait at the start. I was frankly a little peeved, especially that I had failed to bring some refreshments in my bag. We waited long and then were greeted with a 10 minute russian cartoon, and then waited even longer, and got another informative short film introduction to The Eels, but still not the band... And then, maybe an hour after the start time, the curtain went up yet again but this time to reveal a band with strip instruments.
Then on came E, puffing his fragrant cigar (probably breaking the law of December 10 last year) and bursting into song. From that point on he scarcely missed a beat, passing song to song with out pause. His songs are usually no longer than three minutes, although sometimes daring to four.
For a sample of the music: http://myspace.com/eels
"Trouble with Dreams" is pretty cool. I remember it so clearly from the concert.
He bantered with the audience a fair bit. First telling of a few guys cheering while he was speaking. Telling jokes, apologising it taking him 10 years to come to New Zealand and promoting the room party of Chet, the multi-instrument musician (inviting girls only).
The songs were excellent. Having only one of his albums, I knew only four or five of the songs. But he picked my two favourites from that album "Dead of Winter" and "Climbing to the Moon".
The end was amusing. He introduced the last song, saying: 'This is the last song I am contracted to play. But you know after that, we have to play that whole cat and mouse thing. You know. So I just want to say that this is officially the last song.' So he belted out that song, bowed and left with the bad. Then the "cat and mouse" began. The applause, stamping and bottle tapping from the audience went louder and louder. A minute passed. And then the people at the front went even louder. And that's when they came back for another two songs. And then said goodbye again. And then the applause came back. They returned, did a few more songs, and left again. The audience again persisted with applause after they left. And then they came back for the very last song. And left the stage again. The audience cheered and clapped again, requesting they come back. The floor-crew started collecting the equipment. But still the sound went on. We started to leave, along with half the audience. And one of the floorcrew went to the microphone and said: "Sorry folks, the Eels have left the building. No they haven't, they're back!" And back they came, this time dressed in pyjamas and ripped into "I can never take the place of your man" (originally a Prince song). People came pouring back into the St James again. But that was the last.
Cat and Mouse.
Then we went to Kebabs on Queen which it seems that the Eels also got their dinner from because they sent a girl down at the same time we were there. But anyway, it was worth the wait.