Show Review: Eels @ Paramount Theatre (5.16)

Upload Eels 20140515231005Friday night at the Paramount we were treated to two unique artists in Chelsea Wolf and Eels, though they were both different in their approach and delivery.  That being said, I’m pretty sure every audience member left with a smile on their face.  Thanks to David Hall for grabbing some photos for us. 

Chelsea Wolfe opened the night, immediately entering the theatre with little else but her voice, singing and looping the voice, without even so much as an introduction.  It was the minimalistic approach that truly demonstrated the power of a vocal; her set often had little else besides sparse guitar and violin touches to accentuate her performance.  It was definitely an enchanting performance, though we would later discover it was in stark contrast to Eels.  She was quiet, often distant, but that voice is simply too strong to be ignored.  Take a listen to her recent work on Pain is Beauty and you’ll see just how little accompaniment her voice requires. 

And then E took to the stage.  He began with a solo performance of “When You Wish Upon A Star,” serenading the audience before jumping into the core of the set.  From then on, the Eels set would evolve with musical extravagance at every turn.  While Eels albums often include little touches of nuance, they spring to life on stage, which definitely adds to the power of the live set.  But, more so than the usage of various percussion, horns and guitars was the contrast in personality that Mark gave to the audience. 

His music, suffice to say, has often been down-trodden, and deservedly so, when one looks into his life.  And, while his entire catalogue could be filled with what we can deem “sad bastard” tunes, his live performance was far from that.  It seemed more of a performance of resilience, the showmanship of a great songwriter who has accepted his role in life, and aims to do so with a huge grin upon his face.  His banter was humorous, just as some of the tracks he performed, like hits “It’s a Motherfucker” and “I Like Birds.”  He even went through the theatrics to find himself a new Ms. E, who on this night, was named Vanessa.  He invited her to the stage, to serenade her on their “first date,” which ended up with a beautiful cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”  Throughout the night, I was left with nothing but the impression of this charming man.

E’s mark may be his melancholy lyrical wit, but I’d like to think that even as he bares that mark, he’ll trudge on through life trying the best he can to put on a smile and keep on keeping on. He did that this past Friday in Austin, and we were all better off for it.

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