We have been listening to the Eels for 5-6 years. I have always been a fan but never saw them in concert until the other night. Wow. What an event. I wouldn’t even characterize it as a concert but more like a performance art musical event.
There was no back-up band. Instead we got to sit through a 20-30 minute Russian cartoon with English subtitles. The short film was about a cast of characters, animals and humans, that were searching for friends. They eventually build a house that is for people who are in need of friends. It was clever, but not something you expect to see before a concert, so this sort of sent you thinking what type of event is this going to be?
Before the band actually came on, there was another small film giving us a small background of the band. The lead singer, the variety of different band members, etc. It was pretty clever. Then we were treated to the actual song from Willy Wonka, where Gene Wilder sings about what a fantastic place he lives in, just before August Gloop gets sucked down the chocolate river. Hmmm…what’s next?
Then, the parachute material that had been hanging up as a screen, drops and there is the band. Mark Oliver Everett, who is the guy that created the Eels, comes out in a light grey suit, smoking a cigar with a beautiful cane…sort of Willy Wonkaesque.
The band consists of an all female strings group. Each play a violin, among other instruments. His 2 main guys (Chet and Big Man) play keyboards, cello, drums (drums consisting of a trash can and an old suitcase) and other instruments that I don’t even know the names of. Mark also plays a variety of instruments. Talent is not lacking in this band.
Some songs are dark and others are upbeat. He sips on scotch neat and puffs his cigar through a variety of his songs. He is one interesting character. He is obviously brilliant, talented, etc. He is completely separated himself from the typical rock bands. If Beethoven or Chopin had been alive now, they might have created a band similar to the Eels.
They came out for 3 encores. We left after the 1st for a variety of reasons but I am sorry we didn’t stay. Supposedly on the 3rd and final encore, they came out in their pajamas. The only word that comes to my mind when I think of Mark and the Eels is simply "brilliant".