Not ones to do things by the rock n roll handbook, the fact that EELS have selected an unusual support line up is not surprising. First up is a magician who fixates the few early comers with some card tricks before he is followed by Ukrainian twin sisters THE BLOOM TWINS. The 17 year old siblings have recently been recruited to model for Italian Vogue and they give an interesting performance. Their electro pop is pretty basic however they jazz it up with flutes and tambourines and their on stage banter means they hold the predominately male crowd. I don’t think their model good looks have anything do with it.
Bang on 9pm comes the main attraction, Eels. Eels are something of a cult band. Their 1996 legendary debut Beautiful Freak led to people from all walks of life identifying with pain laced output from front man Mark Evett, or as he is more commonly known ‘E’. The band have never fit into a ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ scene but because of the way E openly portrays his personal struggles through his music has endeared his band to people worldwide and a sell-out crowd at the 02 Academy is testament to that.
Walking on stage they are immediately striking in their matching beards, sunglasses and Adidas Firebird track suits making them look like some kind of faux hip hop Chas n Dave. Because of their identikits it takes until they their positions on stage until it can be identified which member ‘E’ is. The stage set up is not by the book either, with E and his drummer on podiums right and left of the stage respectively and the other three member of the band at the back of the stage creating some form of Vegas-like show band.
‘Cancer for the Cure’ opens the set and sounds raw, loud and fat. The song is taken from 1998’s ‘Electro-shock Blues’ and is a great choice as opener. It is also a signal of intent for the evening as the band make up with three guitars bass and drums and the absence of any keys means we are in for a rocking evening.
The set goes onto contain a good mix between the brilliant new album ‘Wonderful Glorious’ and older material. Standout new tracks include ‘The Turnaround’ and the thrashing new single ‘Peach Blossom’. ‘Kinda Fuzzy’ and ‘Open My Present’, get a more muted reaction however older favourites ‘Tremendous Dynamite’, ‘Fresh Blood’ and the brilliant ‘Prizefighter’ from 2007′s excellent ‘Hombre Lobo’ rouse more of a reaction whilst ‘Dirty Girl’ gets maybe the biggest sing along of the night.
It has to be noted in how good of spirits E is during the night. For a man whose music has been borne from the tragedies of his life and depression and mental illness it is great to see the man clearly enjoying himself. He gives out hugs to members of his band in between songs and at one stage bursts into an impromptu version of ‘Let it Be’ which gets a great reception. There is also some bizarre monkey dancing from E. Maybe with the full Adidas trackie he felt like he was Ian Brown or something. On this form hopefully he will continue monkeying around for a long time yet.