eels, the Fillmore, May 31, 2018The wayback machine says I haven't seen eels since 2011, and it sure feels like it. E hasn't dropped in at Largo since the move to La Cienega, and I've missed at least one of their tours, if not more. It was time to turn that ship around.
On a related note, this drought meant I had no idea what to expect at the show. As I recall, eels have a penchant for the dramatic, and I guess we got a hint of that, with the risers and flood lights occupying the stage. But they left the flight suits, goggles, and whatnot at home, opting for a coordinated but workaday uniform. They emerged to the theme from Rocky, then jumped into a Who cover, followed by a Prince cover. I'll mention for the jillionth time that I've had the pleasure of hearing E perform "Raspberry Beret" several times at Largo, on some occasions with better recall than others. It doesn't get old.
Now that the eels have 20-plus years and more than a dozen albums under their belt, it's hard to know what songs they'd roll out from their catalog. And to be honest, I haven't kept up with the more recent releases, so it was a treat for me to hear so many selections across the discography. My favorite is probably Electro-Shock Blues, so "Climbing to the Moon" and "P.S. I Love You" are more than welcome. But the inclusion of tracks like "A Magic World" come as nice surprises too.
I had forgotten how much eels like to change up their tracks, so even the essentials and old-school hits such as "Novocaine for the Soul" and "I Like Birds." Going back to Largo memories: E always lit up at the prospect of Led Zeppelin covers, so when one particularly heavy intro rolled out, I wondered if we were dipping into some good ol' 1970s AOR. Instead, it was the former MTV hit video in an arrangement I can't recall hearing at previous gigs, though perhaps it was closer to Sabbath than Zeppelin. The overall effect was the same [insert rawk emoji].
One of the bigger surprises of the show was the fact that E has finally leaned hard into his love of Prince. Somewhere in the archives, I have a bootleg of a show at Largo where he sang "If I Was Your Girlfriend," and I've been there personally when he turned down the request, claiming he didn't actually know the words. He didn't do the song this time, but "When You Were Mine" was a fine substitute. Prince's death hit so many of us hard; I don't know if it's a tribute, but it's always a treat. We also heard the band take on "Love and Mercy," another song I'll never turn off.
Here's to 20-plus years of eels, in all of their weirdness and unpredictability. I hope that never changes.
» before i sputter out
» i'm offering this simple phrase
» i go for it every time