Eels Triumphantly Return from their Triumphant Return 05.01.19

Life is short. See your favorite bands as many times as you can.

The Eels returned to New York less than a year since their last tour, this time hitting Irving Plaza on a dreary, overcast day. Not that I’m complaining: not about the weather or the fact that my favorite band is doing a nearly identical tour as last year. I’d go see The Eels play perform this same tour every year. Sure, there are some songs that could use the addition of former guitarist PBoo to fill out the rock. And yes, I still miss Knuckles behind the kit, but “new guy” drummer Little Joe is starting to grow on me. The core of the band, E, The Chet and Big Al, are still going strong and sounding more solid than ever.

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For two hours, The Eels rocked Irving Plaza. They opened with three straight cover songs, and I honestly can’t think of another band that can pull that off with such confidence. Only a handful of songs from their most recent album, 2018’s The Deconstruction, made it into the set, while others were plucked from the band’s 23 year career. The band was having fun; The Chet and Big Al took turns hopping on and off of E’s riser, strutting to the front of the stage to the delight of the packed house. E danced with reckless abandon, sporting a tambourine and occasional castanet or cowbell.

During the second encore, there was a loud pop and the sound drops out. Band members spoke into the microphones, but nothing came out. The sound crew quickly restored them, but the monitors had been knocked out for the night. It barely even phases the band and they decided to proceed having no way of hearing themselves play. The guitars and bass were still plugged in and blared into “Fresh Blood,” but the microphones dropped out again. The Eels collectively rolled with it, as did the audience, who were more than happy to howl E’s vocal part at him. There was no rock star tantrum here, just consummate professionals soldiering on through the issue.

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The sound issues were worked out once again. E even made jokes about it being Robert Durst’s fault; the prior song was the theme to HBO’s series The Jinx. They continued on with their final song of the night: a medley of “Love” and “Mercy/Blinking Lights/Wonderful Glorious.” E walked to the very edge of the stage and extended his arms into the air as if to hug the entire audience. He rushed off to the right, but that was not the end of the show. The Chet roared into a cover of The Beatles “The End,” taking on lead vocal duties. Little Joe pounded out Ringo’s drum solo and won over a place in my heart. Sorry, Knuckles. Chet absolutely killed it on guitar. The final line of the song still replaying in my mind even now: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” For now, I’m hoping that wasn’t The End (see what I did there) and that The Eels will continue to grace us with yearly shows. I’m becoming more cynical in my old age, however, and I know there will come a day when my favorite band decides to pack it up.

Life is short. See your favorite bands as many times as you can.

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Robert Ellis opened the night plugging his new album Texas Piano Man. Ellis, who repeated his name jokingly throughout the set to cement it in the audience’s minds, played a mixture of country, pop and jazz. And the dude completely rocked an all white long tailed tux with matching white ten gallon hat and cowboy boots. It was still clean at the end of the night when he was engaging with fans at the merch table. Mad props, Robert Ellis.

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