We caught the Eels last Saturday night at
the Hard Rock Cafe Planet Hollywood the House of Blues downtown.
The show started out a little low-fi–a three-piece with a large buff performance-art style fellow named Krazy Al doing a lot of other stuff, but not making much music. The players didn’t have much in the way of amps, and the whole setup seemed pretty low-budget. I get a little cranky when I pay full price for a stripped-down show, which dates back to when I paid about thirty bones to see Peter Murphy and a single guitar player belt a bunch of acoustic versions of his stuff, looked around at the hundreds of other suckers who did the same, and said to myself “christ, this guy is raping all of us.” It didn’t help that it wasn’t a good show, but even if it was, my enjoyment of it would have been tempered by the economics of the situation.
Luckily, this proved to be a different experience. Krazy Al strutted onstage in shades and a black “SECURITY” shirt, and for the first few songs it was tough to tell if he was in the band or just kind of hanging out. The lights went down between songs, and Krazy Al would bellow something random into the mic. Then, while the band was playing, he’d be jumping around the stage, dancing, or shadowboxing. His best gimmick, for my money, was when he called for some light between songs, put on a surgical glove, and high-fived fans in front of the crowd.
“Artist’s conception” of Krazy Al. Why yes, I’ve had a boring meeting or two this week.
Fortunately, E and crew kicked it up a couple of notches, the fidelity got better after the first couple of songs, and the setlist turned out to be a pretty close to perfect mix of old shit and new shit for this Eels fan. Al ended up taking over for E on guitar during a Mars Volta-ish ~20 minute version of Not Ready Yet and doing a creditable job. E hopped between keyboard and guitar with a quickness. The drummer, who was wearing shades and a Union Civil War uniform, was both entertaining and very good.
In conclusion, this turned out to be an excellent show–far better than that one time I saw watered-down-E-wannabe Beck. If you have the chance to catch the Eels on their current tour, give them a try.