Eels, Bridgewater Hall, gig review: 'Cathartic'

 

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The Independent Culture

When it comes to describing their music, Mark Oliver Everett knows better than anyone. “Sweet, soft bummer rock” he calls it. Eels, who have just released their eleventh album, might be on to something of a downer it is true, but it is an exquisite gloom they cast.

Everett’s voice, halting, croaky, wistful, leads a music that sparkles in the crystal clear sound of the Bridgewater Hall. Double bass, glockenspiel, kettle drum, piano, cornet and steel pedal guitar weave a pleasing tapestry upon which the central themes of loss and longing are relived.

There is a unique nostalgic, half-remembered feel to the songs – half a dozen from the latest album The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett and a smattering of highlights from their prodigious back catalogue.

The sense of peeling back memories is heightened by bookending the show between two tender covers – When You Wish Upon a Star to start and Can’t Help Falling in Love as part of a second encore.

Always more popular in the UK than in his native US, Everett descends to the crowd to issue consoling hugs at the show’s climax.

Although there is a brief interlude midway when the band raise the tempo the prevailing mood is mournful. Yet despite being such a bummer, it is a cathartic experience.

Touring UK to 19 June.

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