The Dome, Brighton
6 July 2011
Eels are something of a cult, and one that I've never really enrolled in. Lead man Mark Everett and a shifting roster of collaborators have been making music for the best part of twenty years now. My record racks feature one compilation (a present from a full cult member) and a couple of individual albums I've bought - last year's End Timesand a nice vinyl solo set, Transmission Sessions. So a gig in Brighton seemed the ideal opportunity to deepen the acquaintance...
Great band: 2 guitars, 2 horns, bass, drums, along with Mr E. They're all wearing shades and sporting beards - and clearly having fun and in good voice. A full Dome gave them a strong reception, despite being berated for lack of enthusiasm at one point.
There's a but coming. Despite all the strengths, I left feeling rather unengaged and unmoved. I wasn't familiar with most of the material and I didn't get a strong impression from the songs first time around. A few familiar ones - 'My Beloved Monster', 'Novocaine For The Soul', 'I'm Going To Stop Pretending I Didn't Break Your Heart' - fared better, but he doesn't really grab me by the entrails, on record or now live.
And why does he have to change his guitar after virtually every number when he only ever strums 3 or 4 chords in a similarly sounding sort of way?
Enough grousing: really good bassist, fine honking horns, tight ensemble playing. I might not quite get it, but if you like this sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you'd definitely have liked.