What you've always wanted: a review of Eels at the Carling Academy Glasgow on Thursday, 3rd July, 2003.
As long-term readers will know, this isn't the first time that I've seen Eels in concert. Before that night, I'd only heard maybe three of their songs, and I didn't know what to expect. And it was a wonderful concert.
This time, they were touring Shootenanny!, a return to form after the rockier Souljacker, though perhaps not quite as good as Electro Shock Blues or Daisies of the Galaxy.
The support act was MC Honky. Officially, he is
a reclusive remix wizard who cares little for the show business and its trappings. Unwilling to let the public know much, the puzzle pieces are as such: he is a shy, native Los Angeleno in his mid-fifties who began his love affair with sound as a teenaged janitor at the Capitol Records studio in 1959.
On stage, he is a 20-something man with a shaven head, a cardigan, a bow-tie, and a pipe, who pretends to manipulate a pair of decks whilst a tape plays in the background. The music was passable, perhaps to the extent that I would buy the album if I had a spare tenner in my wallet, but it felt like a bit of a short-change as a support act, when really it was just trumped-up PA music. I'd have preferred a real support, though MC Honky's mime-stylings were inoffensive.
Some time later, a brave Mr. E walked through the crowd playing a harmonica, to the band playing All in a Day's Work (which, oddly, earned a reprise later in the night). The band itself was completely different (except E, of course) from the band that played the concert hall three years ago. Conspicuously absent were drummer Butch and multi-instrumentalist Lisa Germano. In their place were drummer Puddin', lead guitarist Golden Boy, and bassist Koool G. Murder. E alternated between guitar, keyboard, and - at one point - keyboard and drum simulataneously-brilliantly.
The set was rather strange, in that it took a few songs before I even recognised one of them as an Eels song. Among these was a cover of 16 Tons. There followed a fantastic set, including P.S. You Rock My World, Last Stop: This Town, Novocaine for the Soul, My Beloved Monster (which rocked hard), and I Like Birds, but excluded my favourite live-track: The Sound of Fear (although it would require Lisa Germano on backing vocals to give me the goosebumps it gave me in 2000).
The set was brilliant, and we got treated to three encores - the last with just E on keyboard, playing Beautiful Freak. I admit to hoping they would come back after the lights went up, as they did at the Royal Festival Hall, and would do at the Manchester Academy, but you can't have everything.
The only things missing were the humorous exchanges between E and other members of the band, which were so memorable in 2000. (If you don't believe me, download Hot and Cold, off the Oh! What a Beautiful Morning live album.) And I don't think E said as much, though when he did, it was excellent (especially when shouting down hecklers - not such a problem at the Concert Hall, mind you).
To top it all, I left with a copy of the Electro-Shock Blues Show album, which has pride of place in my computer at the moment.
A lovely evening out.