EELS NOTTINGHAM ROCK CITY LIVE REVIEW
The Nottingham Rock City is still the best venue in the country. And on this lively summer night, EELs opening act Texas Piano Man Robert Ellis has the crowd eating out of his hat. Boasting a natural charisma and dressed in a super white suit and stetson, Ellis looks like Christian Bale or Matthew McConaughey going method for a Wes Anderson film. Like a sexy Colonel Saunders, EELs singer E described him as “A great player, a great writer, and handsome as fuck… I hate him.”
Ellis proved the perfect support for the EELs, sharing both E’s song writing talent and dry sense of humour. Stand out track had to be ‘Passive Aggressive’, dedicated to Nottingham’s lovers. One ‘hilarious-only-if-you’re-from-Nottingham’ moment was when someone shouted “Howdy” in the crowd. Responding quickly, the Piano Man asked what he should shout when he’s in Texas watching from someone from Nottingham? Struggling to interpret the crowd’s reply as “Hey up big dog?” there was a huge cheer when he finally caught on to “Ey up me duck!”. An American using Nottingham’s most famous greeting, that shit never gets old.
After a short break, the Rocky theme filled the Rock City and the EELs come out punching for their decidedly older crowd. With the Rock City boasting a sea of hair as white as The Piano Man’s suit.
The EELs music has always been a masterful example of eclectic genius but what surprises is E’s ability to reinvent their live act. Even to the point where it’s not representative of their latest album. The EELs have been a grunge band, a skiffle band, a punk band and today we have psychobilly-blues. A statement is quickly made, they’re here to have fun and to rock. Blasting through a mix of covers and music from their most recent releases, we’re treated to an amazing version of Prince’s ‘Raspberry Beret’ complete with choreographed and dad dance moves, Quo style. ‘Flyswatter’, the first genuine Eels classic, is quickly followed by the Beck-esque ‘Dog Faced Boy’. After which E exclaims “God damn, I’m old as fuck but God damn I rock!”. I fucking love this guy. Things are then taken down a notch, but not too far. E brands us the Soft Rock City and the classics continue to flow with Shrek favourite ‘My beloved Monster’ as well as an excellent metal version of ‘Novocaine for the Soul’,
This is a band that enjoys being a band, which is almost odd considering the lineup changes over the years. Butch is long gone and so is Kool G Murder, with guitarist The Chet proving a main stay in recent years. E introduces the band in fine fashion, with the highlight being new(ish) drummer Little Joe, who even gets to sing a song about joining the band. Love it.
If you’ve ever been to an EELs gig you’ll know they love a good encore. On the ‘Blinking Lights’ tour they must have had 8 of the bastards, with people running into the Royal Concert Hall after leaving. Mocking their own penchant for the pantomime, E came back on stage declaring “You know how I like a synchronised clap”, before playing one more song and leaving again. The band quickly returned, continuing the self-referential charm, claiming each song would be their last, only for E to shout “One more!”, in true Dave Grohl style.
Whether it was supreme confidence or tongue-in-cheek to describe themselves as “The triumphant return of the triumphant return of EELs, the world’s number one entertainers” I have to say it’s hard to disagree. I walked into the Rock City thinking “Wow, tour t-shirts are expensive at £25” but came out uplifted and buying one anyway (whilst mumbling something about how Brexit can go screw itself ). Every EEL’s album has a song on it that make you cry but tonight was all about making you feel good, and boy do we need that right now.
Rating: In E’s own words, it’s ‘The Mutha Fuckin EELs’ baby!