Eels’ long-awaited Lockdown Hurricane tour, postponed three times and their first in 4 years feels like a band going all out at their blistering, bluesy best. They are truly making up for lost time with their UK dates including tonight’s sold-out at Camden’s Roundhouse show, Glasgow’s Barrowlands, and Manchester’s iconic Albert Hall, following up with a European and North American tour.
Reminiscent of the Blues Brothers, the band all donned dark sunglasses with their suave tuxedo suits and in stark contrast to their moody image were jovial and joking with the crowd from the start.
The second song Amateur Hour with the raspy vocals “Baby you’re an amateur you’ve got to go home someday” sees the band get into in their groove with a break neck pace that sets a precedent for the night ahead.
Their cover of the Small Faces Watcha Gonna Do About It does is received with a rapturous applause, the wild “Woah yeah” Ian almost primal, delivered with an irresistibly raw energy.
A dry nod to Colin Firth in the Good Night on Earth strikes a chord with the crowd as wry smiles are seen all around as he sings “Everyone’s a critic, I can’t stand Eeels.
“So says Colin Firth/ Rain on my parade, then the clouds fade/ It’s a good night on earth”.
A seemingly spontaneous blues jam follows which Talking about Apple Watches in an amusing aside to the audience lead singer Mark exclaims “We all have exercise goals!”
Joking that they need to get their steps in on stage tonight, which has the crowd howling.
All the six songs we just played have never been played live before – except for last night” in his trademark bone fry tone.
Suddenly a screen image flashed between songs with the flashing words in bold ‘Exercise goal achieved’ as Mark jokes “See how much exercise you get done on this one Joe – Joe’s getting a little too much exercise!” to Joe the brilliant guitarist, who often exchanges banter with him throughout the set.
In a clever callback to his Apple Watch joke Mark suddenly shouts “How many steps so far – only 19,000 more and you’re there! which is shortly flowed by a dark joke It’s ok my guitar check just had a stroke!” and an off the wall thought “Do you smell toast?”.
He then playfully tells punters: “Just want to inform you that this is not scripted because we’re playing live” and jokingly complaining about his sound tech Sarah as he struggles to tune: “Here you go princess – 30 years doing this and that’s what I get!”
Brilliantly colourful imagery in the lyrics ‘ I ain’t that pretty for a dog faced boy’ from Dog Faced Boy highlights Mark’s comical imagination as a blistering drum solo breaks into an effortless riff from Joe.
Mark says of his band “Little Joe is here in the good name of dad rock! Big Al on the bass – in the fine tradition of granddad Rick! 20 years of me and the chat – 20 years!”
In the first encore, they leave the stage Mark teases “Ag we didn’t see that coming, you’re so sweet”, pretending to be the audience, adding “We haven’t played this one since 1968”.
Leaving the stage again with a lingering pause and coming back with a highly unorthodox second encore, Mark goes on a mad tangent about going on like a toddler, rounding off a superbly energetic and entertaining night of part blues and part stand-up comedy from Eels.