Gig Review :: EELS – O2 Academy, Leeds – 12/07/2011

© Lucy Keating Photography

© Lucy Keating Photography

“The only thing that matters is that you bring it!”

If you don’t know who the EELS are, chances are, you suck as a human being. Mark Everett, better known as E, has been kicking ass and taking names with his experimental rock band for the past fifteen years since the release of Beautiful Freak in 1996 and I was finally going to have the honour of watching them right before my eyes.

The first act, with emphasis on the “act”, was a juggler. Now I’ve been to a lot of shows and seen some weird shit, but I have NEVER seen a juggler open for a rock band, let alone one as influential as the EELS.

You know the moments when you think your life is gonna end? A real “this is it” moment? Straight after dropping one, the juggler decided to juggle three large bowling pin shaped pieces of metal over my head, I saw my life flash before me, I’ve had it alright.

He didn’t kill me which left my mind to wander and I came to a conclusion, this would be GREAT shroomed up. The juggler spun a large luminous pole, that flashed a multitude of colours, at great speed looking like Donatello at a rave, I REALLY wished I was high.

These feelings were soon put aside when, second act, Jessica Hoop took the stage. Two songs in and I was glad I wasn’t tripping. I’d prepared in my mind journalistic masterpieces such as “if Nick Drake was a woman. And Sucked” and “if Ani DiFranco had perforated her ear drums at age six.” But before I could put the final nail in the Jessica Hoop coffin this butterfly appeared from the cocoon of cat calls and her final three songs were honest, beautiful folk songs with transcendental melodies (yes I did just use “transcendental” in a review, suck it).

The highlight of the night should have been finally watching the EELS, and it was. The band, other than looking like ZZtop had switched wardrobes with Maroon 5, completely destroyed the place and by destroyed I mean put huge smiles on everyone’s faces and caused a human ocean of upbeat head bopping, because this is EELS and even with E’s nightmarish past the music continues to be some of the most life affirming I’ve ever heard, this is shown greatly in their live performance.

“That was really positive!” E’s one liner commentary contributed fantastically to heartening the mood as the band tore through an ecclectic mix of new and old, two encores and a heavy hitting, punk rock styled, full band version of “I Like Birds.”

“The only thing that matters is that you bring it!” Was another E one liner, and believe me, they fucking brought it.

I often find myself after reading a review that, no matter how well wrote, it never quite captures the mood of the evening, so here’s video evidence of the EELS playing the Daisies Of The Galaxy great, Flyswatter.

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