Friday night, Eels delivered a quality rock and roll show to a packed El Rey Theatre, completing their Tremendous Dynamite World Tour. A vibrant collection of Angelinos welcomed the bearded seven-piece back to their base in Los Angeles with a tangible energy that invigorated the band. The band demonstrated remarkable persistence, showing no signs of exhaustion after having recently finishing a trilogy of LPs (Hombre Lobo, End Days, Tomorrow Morning) and now a tour that started over two months ago.
Eels opened with “Flyswatter,” replacing the xylophone hook on record with an animated horn section that would contribute to most of the set. On “Prizefighter,” the gravelly quality of frontman E’s voice alluded to blues and classic rock legends while declaring an indefatigable individuality that is alive in the present. In celebration of Southern California and the summer, they refreshed the crowd with two tight Sly & the Family Stone covers, “Somebody’s Watching You” and “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” in which E’s supporting guitarists and bassist got a chance to exercise their vocal skills; especially impressive was bassist Koool G Murder’s soaring rendition of Rose Stone’s lyric “out of school.”
Eels’ dynamic was effective in bringing together the stomping rock aesthetic and the curious ingenuity of a singer-songwriter who, however much he would like to be a werewolf, is essentially a relatable human being. One highlight was E’s climax in vulnerability with “That look you give that guy,” a classic of self-pitying in peculiar harmonic form.
Eels satisfied the restless audience with a double encore, performing crowd-pleaser “Last Stop: This Town,” as well as the horror film-inspired “Fresh Blood” before finally ending with the triumphant gospel tune “Looking Up.” With the finale of this show, the finale of the Tremendous Dynamite World Tour, and the finale of their trilogy of LPs (and redemption is incidentally the main theme of Tomorrow Morning, the third in the trilogy) Eels ended this leg of their journey on an optimistic note.
This show forecasts their bright future: Eels will continue meeting the standard that E implemented at the project’s start fifteen years ago, a standard of accessible yet creative songwriting rooted in rock n’ roll. E has the rare artistic ability of writing music that is original and profound yet entertaining and so familiar to the human experience. This grizzly crew isn’t losing steam.