Eels, Dome, Brighton

4.00

Laughter in the face of tragedy

Many musicians claim to have been saved by rock'n'roll but Mark Oliver Everett – singer, songwriter and driving force behind the US band Eels – wouldn't be alive without it. The death of his father from a heart attack when Everett was 19 was the first in a series of tragedies that, one by one, claimed the lives of his whole family.

Compounding the depression that already afflicted the musician, his sister committed suicide in 1996 and two years later his mother died of cancer. But rather than allow his grief to overwhelm him, Everett channelled his experiences into a series of darkly humourous and often beautiful albums.

Now, more than a decade into his career, he has added film-maker and writer to his repertoire. Excerpts from his newly published memoir Things the Grandchildren Should Know, detailing his extraordinary family history and his burgeoning success with Eels, are read out at tonight's performance, while last year's BBC documentary Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, which saw Everett getting to know his late father, a quantum physics genius who developed the theory of parallel universes but never got the recognition he deserved, opens the show.

Following Everett's visits to Princeton where his father developed the theory, and the Pentagon where he later worked, it's a fitting and frequently funny introduction to a musician who, despite his considerable success, has always been on the outside looking in.

After the film comes the music, with Everett taking the stage in a trucker's cap and boiler suit. The set spans the Eels' career, from top 10 hit "Novocaine for the Soul" from their debut album Beautiful Freak, to tracks from their latest opus Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. Despite the songs' dark subject matter, the music is never depressing. Indeed, it's Everett's matter-of-factness in singing "Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor", an epitaph to his sister, or his paean to isolation "It's a Motherfucker" that makes it so moving.

Previous tours have seen Everett performing with a full band and string section but tonight's show is a pared-down affair in which, following a handful of acoustic numbers, he is accompanied on drums, guitars, harmonium and musical saw by a multi-instrumentalist, introduced simply as "the Chet". The pair enjoy the kind of synergetic relationship that, during "Flyswatter", allows them to swap instruments – one on drums, the other on piano – without missing a beat. It's a neat party trick that is about entertainment rather than ego.

Another of Chet's duties is reading book excerpts, one of which details Everett's surreal encounter with the actress Angie Dickinson during his first sojourn in Los Angeles. She was presenting a band with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at the time, and Everett decided to introduce himself. He gave her a demo tape and waited for her call, but it never came.

If Chet is the straight man in this double act, then Everett is the clown. Belying the troubled history that fuels his art, he's an upbeat and charismatic presence with a nice line in self-parody. Sending up the narcissism and vanity of the rock star, Everett invites hecklers to "let it all out" and wonders what he can do to make himself feel good. He decides to read out some fan mail.

There's a couple of fawning letters from female admirers, but then comes one from a man in Perth. "You suck," it says. "Have a nice day." Book-ending the set is a booming Tom Baker-ish voice from the speakers, which announces "Mark Oscar [sic] Everett, this is your life." And what a hell of a life it's been.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 contestants and their professional dance partners open the twelfth run of the celebrity ballroom contest

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin teaches Clara to shoot an arrow
doctor who
Arts and Entertainment
Queen Christina left the judges baffled with her audition
X Factor
Arts and Entertainment
The Vienna State Opera
opera
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'
musicLilly Wood and Robin Schulz bag number one single
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
    The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

    The fall of Rome?

    Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
    Glasgow girl made good

    Glasgow girl made good

    Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
    Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

    Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

    Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
    The landscape of my imagination

    The landscape of my imagination

    Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories