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Eels at Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn

Written By: Robert Cox

BROOKLYN, NY — Mark Oliver Everett, otherwise known as E, returned to New York for the first time in four years to perform at the Brooklyn Steel musical venue with his band, The Eels.

E along with bandmates Jeff Lyster (“The Chet”), Allen Hunter (“Big Al”) and Joe Mengis (“Little Joe”) were touring to promote The Deconstruction, The Eels 12th studio album, released on April 6, 2018.

The Eels were formed first came in 1995, primarily as a vehicle for singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mark Oliver Everett to sing about lost love, family tragedy and death. Albums and tours have vacillated between sombre and upbeat. Happily for concertgoers, the current tour tends towards the latter.

It is worth mentioning the unique, bizarre and yet entertaining opening act, That 1 Guy Mike Silverman who uses every appendage save one to play something called The Magic Pipe. He plucks, strums, bows and blows to produce sounds that at times sounds like a full-on orchestra and at others like the mating call of a Blue Whale. Silverman, dressed like a hobo, has a self-deprecating humor that managed to win over an initially skeptical audience. 

As the stage darkened, any doubt that E would be wallowing in some of his more morbid lyrics was immediately erased when the speakers blared the opening horns from the Rocky Theme (“Gonna Fly Now”). The slightly built E stepped on a riser, separated from the rest of the band. Wearing dark clothes, steampunk sunglasses and a pork pie hat, the band shifted gears by launching into a cover of The Who’s “Out in the Street” then the equally improbable, slowed-down, bass-heavy cover of “Raspberry Beret” by Prince.

On “Bone Dry”, the first Eels song of the night, off The Deconstruction album, E goes stiff-legged, holds out his arms and staggers about like a cartoon-zombie.

The band kept the room moving with renditions of “Flyswatter” and “Dog Faced Boy” before slowing things down with “From Which I Came/A Magic World”, “Dirty Girl” and “Daisies of the Galaxy”. The band turns on the blues riffs for “The Prizefighter”, an upbeat version of “Rusty Pipes” and a brassy Shirley Bassy-influenced guitar riff on “Open My Present” in into “You Are the Shining Light”.

There is no way around it being weird to hear a song from Shrek, the animated motion picture, but the crowd wants to hear “My Beloved Monster” and E indulges them.

Before introducing the band, E sings “In My Dreams”, “Climbing to the Moon” and a heartfelt rendition of “I Like the Way This Is Going”.

An odd moment is the show is what becomes an homage to everyone who was once the “new guy”, an overtop introduction to the new drummer in “Little Joe!” (filling in for Derek Brown, aka “Knuckles”).

The band closed out the set with the peppy “Today Is the Day”, the first song released off the new album, and three Eels classics, “Novocaine for the Soul”, “Souljacker, Part I”, and “I Like Birds” before closing out with “P.S. You Rock My World”.

After a long wait, the band came out for a first encore, performing another Prince cover, “When You Were Mine”.

A second encore, a 5-song mini-set kicked off with a re-worked version of “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues”, howling on “Fresh Blood” and a Brian Wilson song, “Love and Mercy”. The band closed out on a positive note with “Blinking Lights (For Me)” and “Wonderful, Glorious”.