Eels - Apollo Theater, New York - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Eels - Apollo Theater, New York

by paul_guyet Rating:8 Release Date:2012-04-29

After a most intriguing and incongruous performance from the dark, electronic, and sullen Chelsea Wolfe, who performed songs (read 'dirges') from her latest release, Pain is Beauty *, Eels take the stage. While this is not my favorite Eels show **, the audience is treated to yet another original instrumental line-up, featuring a xylophone, melodica, cello, upright bass, and trumpet along with some guitar, drums and E on piano. The end result is like listening to a version of Daisies of the Galaxy from some alternate reality. It's a very beautiful, mellow show, which includes E poking fun at himself for the darker tone of the songs he plays at the start.

Highlights include excellent new interpretations of 'Fresh Feeling', 'My Beloved Monster' and 'I Like Birds', as well as 'It's a Motherfucker', 'Last Stop: This Town' (I'd love to hear the original arrangement live some day), and 'A Daisy Through Concrete'. And E going into the crowd and hugging individual people for a good minute or two. This show also has one of my favorite openings I've seen thus far: E, standing in a lone spotlight, singing Leigh Harline's 'When You Wish Upon a Star'. Absolutely. Heartbreaking.

After the show, I hit upon something explaining why I'm more excited about Eels' live shows than any of my other favorite bands: with Eels, nothing is impossible. With other bands, there are certain songs they have to play and certain songs they will never play. Nine Inch Nails will never play 'The Perfect Drug' live. They Might Be Giants will never play 'Nightgown of the Sullen Moon' live.*** 

Aside from 'I Like Birds' and 'My Beloved Monster' (each one different every time I've seen them), I don't think I've ever heard a single song played at every Eels show, and never twice in a row. It's because Eels doesn't have a 'Head Like a Hole' or an 'Istanbul (Not Constantinople)', or, rather, they do. It's 'Novocaine for the Soul', but E made it very clear to folks that he's not planning on being restricted by what the audience wants to hear.

If he plays 'Novocaine', it's going to be on his terms and in the style of his choosing, or not at all. The first and only time he's played anything closely resembling the original 1996 version was in 2011. And guess what... Hearing it live was incredible. Because the song is amazing and because fans have been waiting 15 years to hear it in such a fashion.

Who knew that patience really does pay off?

* Yes, my tongue was firmly in my cheek while typing that album title.

** Thank you for asking! I'd say either their 2011 show at the Williamsburg Music Hall show or their staggeringly beautiful 2005 Town Hall performance.

*** Except for the one time they played it in 1995.

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