The Eels rocked the Newport in Columbus, Ohio Feb. 24. The band took the stage at 8:30 p.m. and played for nearly two hours with three encores.
There might be a funnier performer than Mark Oliver Everett (aka E), but I’d have to see the performer to believe it. E did it all, including providing mock Oscar updates (It was Oscar night). Pauly Shore and American Pie 8 were among the winners announced throughout the evening. There were plenty of hugs with band mates and the highlight: a mock same-sex marriage, where E and the guitar player vowed to continue playing together after a 10-year partnership.
All this was hysterical. But it was a night for rocking too. And there was all kind of cool lighting including a strobe to accentuate the band’s energy. The show would have been a winner if only for the splendid cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well.” E gave his first hug after this song.
The Eels can rock hard. But they could go into a more subtle and softer mode. The ballads were edgy, as well. Notable among the slow ones was the crowd favorite, “Dirty Girl.”
At about the halfway point, everything was rolling along just fine. “Fresh Feeling” was delivered in a fashion reminiscent of the Rolling Stones singing the Temptations, “Just My Imagination.” And the audience was quite appreciative.
It wasn’t a time to rest on laurels. There was plenty of rocking to do old and new. Another fun cover was in store, this time from the Small Faces.
The encores started coming after about 90 minutes. “I’m Your Brave Little Soldier” blasted out. Calls from the audience for “My Beloved Monster” were rewarded.
The second encore saw the Eels take it up another notch with “Fresh Blood.” E provided howling, calling to mind Warren Zevon. And a strobe light topped all of this off.
They could have called it a night and came off victorious. Sports metaphors are fully appropriate, since all of the band members were decked out in athletic warmups (this seemed all the more appropriate, since across the street at Ohio State University the men’s basketball team toppled Michigan State earlier).
Audience members made their way to the exits, but most found out before they reached the point of no return, there was one more encore.
“Open My Present” was the gift to the audience. It was yet another strong cut from the group’s new album, Wonderful Glorious Eels. “Go Eels” closed out the show.
Ready to release a new album soon was the night’s opening act Nicole Atkins. “Red Rose” was featured and will be included on the still unnamed release.
Atkins from New Jersey has had her share of adversity due to the hurricane. But she performed with charm and vigor putting her lovely voice to good use. Atkins played sans other band members and shoes as she sang songs, which bore some resemblance to great performers of the past like Roy Orbison. “Neptune City” made for a strong finale to a delightful 30-minute set.