Thursday, 7 March 2013

Eels at Corona Theatre

Eels at Corona Theatre


It’s in 1996 that Beautiful Freak, Eels’ first ever LP, was released. Mark Everett’s project was still a blooming thing back then, but looking back, that first effort was forewarning of the greatness to come. Ten albums later, Eels is a crucial part of the international rock landscape, thanks to its all-encompassing approach to music. Concept albums dealing with specific overarching themes, involvement in countless film soundtracks and scores, ever-rotating lineup, constantly evolving sound… Nothing seems to quench Everett’s creative thirst. His numerous collaborations with

Unsurprisingly, Eels’ most recent LP Wonderful, Glorious is, again, a stunning effort. Infused with a resolutely rock flavour, punctuated by delicious ballads here and there, the album is yet another efficient piece of work. The guitar riffs sound mean, the lyrics are, as always, very tongue-in-cheek and well written, and the production is stellar. Both singles, Peach Blossom and New Alphabet, are wonderful samples that’ll give any listener a very good idea of the general feel of the whole album.

I was thus very pleased to see the five band members step on stage of Corona Theatre with their Adidas black training jackets and pants, their dark shades, and their unshaven beards on February 26th. Last time I had seen Eels live was at Osheaga, where Everett surrounded himself with horn players to spice up the lineup. This time, it was very hard to mistake the unit for anything else than a bunch of rock and rollers. Four microphones, three guitars, a drum set, a bass guitar, and a few maracas.

It’s very hard to pinpoint what I liked the most about this concert. Was it the catchiness that characterized absolutely every aspect of the bands’ sound, from groovy bass lines to unorthodox and effects-filled guitar melodies? Was it the fact that Everett’s vocals were upfront enough for the audience to be able to catch every word of his fantastic lyrics? Was it the perfect sync between the schizophrenic lighting and the music? I’d even be tempted to claim it was the old-timer whose arms were swaying in the air, 70s-style, during the set’s most psychedelic piece…

To be perfectly honest, the part that made me smile the most was when Everett showed the extent of his light-heartedness in a half-funny, half-touching gesture. He mentioned that his guitarist The Chet had recently made him realize that they had been “rockin’ the world for 10 years,” meaning that, despite the fact that Eels’ lineup is always shifting, the two have been part of it for the last decade. “It’s time to renew the vows!” Everett announced. And they did. While guitarist P-Boo was playing a soft melody, bassist Kool G Murder asked The Chet if he took Mark Everett to be his lead singer, and Everett if he took The Chet to be his lead guitarist. I kid you not. After the traditional exchange of ‘I do’s and a big hug, they resumed playing. They must have been lifted by that little experience, because the song they attacked right after was a dirty, gritty and fast-paced rock song. Cheerful, to say the least.

Speaking of cheering, it seemed like Everett was hungry for it. He kept asking the crowd for more applauding and yelling between songs, as if the amount given did not satisfy him. It seems the Montrealers on the premises got the message, as they called the band on stage for a two encores. Everett had a big grin on his face as he walked back under the projectors the second time. “THIS is how you should have done it the whole time!” he laughed.

If that night was a proof of anything, it’s that Eels is still going strong. Whether its members rock it out in a loud, messy fashion, or they gently play sweet, poetic little ballads, they are capable of showing very convincingly that they are still in possession of all their means and skills (which, let us be honest, is not the case for all bands with a lengthy longevity). Wonderful, glorious? I think I agree.
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