Concert Review: The Eels At The Galaxy Theatre
REVIEW BY ERIC PAULSEN
PHOTOS BY J.D. CARNES
The Eels played the first show of their surprise tour at The Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana on Wednesday, June 1 to a crowd who clearly enjoyed the antics of the introverted and outlandish lead-man known affectionately as E (Mark Oliver Everett).
With fresh arrangements of songs and the added instrumentation of a horn section, The Eels made long beards and sunglasses look stylish while cranking out a set that included some of their best material covering every studio album they have released. They began the show with “That’s Not Really Funny,” a raucous and playful tune that is one of the best examples of how E can turn a self-deprecating joke into a barbed rock and roll hook.
E is that singer / songwriter who follows his inner voice even when it tells him to do things that are random or nonsensical. He introduced the two horn players as Snatch and Snatch Mo Snatch. He allowed the feedback from his guitar to be the dominate sound coming from the stage for a 3-minute section of “Souljacker part 1.” He wasn’t afraid to use a capo on the ninth fret of his guitar. He ran off the stage during the encore waving goodbye while the band continued to play and then he reappeared minutes later to complete the song.
For all of the ways the show rocked with the antics of everything that make The Eels fun to see, it was the slower songs that stood out as being the centerpiece and were surely the topic of conversation after the show. E is clearly a passionate musician and this was evident not only when he seemed to spell loud in all capital letters, but when he explored very personal feelings about failed relationships and a painful family history during quieter moments. There is a point when watching him sing that you almost hope the story of “Son of a Bitch” is as fictional as “Dog Face Boy,” but there is the obvious appearance that such songs cut closely to the artist as a person.
The Eels can often be a rotating cast of characters centered on E, but this line-up of Derek “Knuckles” Brown on drums, Jeff Lyster “The Chet” on guitar, Kelly “Koool G Murder” Logsdon and P-Boo on guitar is the same as the previous tour with the addition of the horn players. It was interesting to listen to “Fresh Feeling” and others which were recorded with other instrumentation such as strings being played with horn arrangements.
One of the highlights was a cover of Sly and The Family Stone’s “Hot Fun In The Summertime” with each member of the band handling a line in the chorus. It was evident that The Eels were well-rehearsed for the show and they hit every cue and note as designed. Moreover, they really seemed to enjoy the night. The audience called them out for two encores and The Eels closed the show with the gospel-sounding “Looking Up” from their most recent studio album, Tomorrow Morning.
The show was played as the warm-up to a tour that will span 18 countries and 53 shows in 73 days, beginning in China and then across Europe before playing a series of shows in the U.S. that will end at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on August 12.
It is always interesting to see what opening acts The Eels will choose for their shows. Wednesday’s show featured juggler Josh Horton, who said he recently won a contest as the second greatest juggler in the world. His act was entertaining, if not completely out of place for a rock and roll show. Female duo, The Watson Twins, played an acoustic set that seemed more fitting for a coffeehouse, but featured some very nice harmonies. More information regarding The Eels can be found at eelstheband.com.