“God damn right, it’s a beautiful day”…

Eels – Leeds…

Unpredictable. I think that is the best way to describe the Forty for Forty quest thus far. I have loved every minute of it and I guess part of that is the unpredictable nature of it all.

I just do not know what to expect when I rock up at these gigs. Sure, the music element is under my control – in that I either listen and know the music beforehand or I don’t. Everything else is a bit of a ride.

And that ride brought me to the O2 academy in Leeds. Well, via spending some time dodging traffic wardens and then eating the most horrendous burger money can buy!

It’s strange, the last time I was in the venue, it was 199something, it was called the Town and Country club and Del Amitri were playing. Was it really so very long ago?

This time, it is Eels – never really sure if there is a “The” at the front of the name, but I will leave it out incase I offend a die hard. I first encountered their music in 96 with “Novocaine for the soul. “

I never really got into them, but did like the song. Fast forward to 2009 and I was lent a memory stick packed with MP3’s on and within it was the album “Hombre Lobo”. What a treat that was!

It was enough for me to dig a bit deeper into the back catalogue and I listened with interest to Mr E’s words. Depressing, melancholy, dark, despairing. Boxes ticked when it comes to my tastes.

However, I never really thought to see them live. Not that I didn’t want to, more timing and opportunity, which is why I was delighted to have the chance this time around.

Stood in front of the stage, there was a bit of a tingle in the air. Not in the same way the crowd to see Johnny Marr created, this had more of an edge to it.

I spoke with the die hards around me who promised me I was in for a treat, but even they were a tad baffled at the first support act.

When a long haired fella wandered on stage, most thought he was a roadie of sorts, but the lights went down and the music began to play and he stood there. Air Guitaring for 15 minutes.

How amusing, how strange, how utterly unpredictable! Next up was American singer Nicole Adkins. She ghosted on stage wearing a Vamperic cloak before donning a huge Orange guitar and belting out a few songs.

You would not have believed that such a demure looking lady could have such an engaging voice, but wow, she certainly did, and songs of substance to boot.

However, during her set, the mood in the crowd was getting decidedly edgy. Mainly due to some drunk who insisted on heckling her and dancing as if he was in a mosh pit. He disappeared about halfway through her set, but not for long.

By 8.45, the lights went down. one by one, the ADIDAS track suited band appeared. All in shades, all with beards and all giving off some bewitching aura. Like some weird looking Mafia and nothing like I expected.

And that was it, the first chords struck, the first beat of the drum and this band transported you into some parallel universe. From that first moment, they had me – and not in a Jerry Magiure way.

They also had the drunk, who came steaming back to front of stage, high on his love of alcohol and the music, screaming at the lead singer and professing his love whilst knocking most around him to the floor like skittles.

It was only a matter of time before he was ejected. he managed 2 songs and managed to disrupt the show for countless people. Yours truly included!

However, once removed, the show rattled on at a fair pace. The lead singer – Mr E – was engaging. You just could not take your eyes off him.  He insisted on hugs with his band members. He celebrated 10 years touring with the lead guitarist by taking vows with him to keep on touring.

One minute he looked like a pussy cat, the next he looked like he would rip off your head if you looked at him the wrong way. He got the crowd going, in fact, he was truly memorising.

The sound was loud, rocking and pitch perfect. The songs were amazing. The slower tunes distinctly differing from the CD versions, while the harder hitting songs notched up a level.

I found myself in love with them, all of them and I couldn’t stop smiling.

You just never knew what would happen next really and that added to the charm of the night. Song wise, “Prizefighter” was a real stand out and a cover of “Itchycoo Park” was unexpected, but brilliant.

When they went off for the 1st encore, it was hard to belive that they had played for over an hour. Time had seriously flown passed. They came back to do a mash up of some of their older hits including from the cd “Beautiful Freak”, but it was all too short lived.

Off they went to a screams of “More” from a demanding crowd, but the lights came on. The roadies started to dismantle the stage and the crowd began to depart. I was about to join them, but a die hard grabbed me.

Just give them a few moments he said. A few moments became 10 minutes. The stage was been taken down, the lights were still up, but the band reappeared to do another song.

They played as the stage was taken apart and the front of stage became a screaming Mosh pit- All added to the unpredictability of the night. A fantastic night and a fantastic gig. Eels absolutely fucking rocked.

So much so, that I have bought a ticket to see them again next week in Nottingham. Now that tells you all you need to know really.

That mad trip will be the next gig and then I have a break for a while, unless i get tickets for PINK in Manchester, which is proving to be a harder task than I thought – unless I want to pay stupid ebay prices!

So tonights music comes from Eels of course. Back to the aforementioned mash up. I don’t normally like these type of things, but sometimes they seem to work – especially if you are not familiar with the originals.

Enjoy…

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