eels – live at town hall, a review from a seat in a library.

August 2018

August, the height of summer and the beginning of the end for my 33rd year.  New beginning and new endings and endless recycling of sentences. Where do we find inspiration for new structure? Do we, or don’t we? Does it matter?

Of course not.

Where are we now, where are we now? The moment you know, you know you know.

Somebody else’s sentences. Get back to the task at hand. That Eels album, the live one, the second live one in fact (I think). It’s been a while and someone mentioned novacaine for the soul and so that’s all it took.

A collection of quotes and reminiscences, borrowed lines and underappreciated references. Bustop Boxer, theremin and unnecessary glockenspiel. Nothing exposes the paucity of your composition like an overly arranged string section. 

Where are the ticker tape parades, where are the conclusive statements? Peak oil was right after all and we are sliding towards the trough of the ’20s. The roaring nothings, the indivisible elements, the base support that never waivers and justifies any and all actions.

How do you get your voice like that? That particular brand of well-trodden? Hmm?  There’s a quality we can’t put our finger on, and its not that we even want to sound like that, its that there’s something quite remarkable happening – no not remarkable, unique.  Maybe not even unique, we don’t want this to sound positive – or negative for that matter – we are just remarking on a thing.

Just a thing.

Things on the wings, wings on the wind, wind in your hair and your hair in my eyes. Whoever is still listening must be a true fan, must be a devotee.  Whoever hasn’t tapped out yet must be kidding themselves, or just not really paying attention.  Platitudes and old friends, hollow promises and unprofessional fridays. Dress down for a good time, pizza in the break room, finish by half 4.

Oh, gentle soul. Oh, its still not and it never will be.  Appreciation is as redundant as compassion. You and everyone you ever meet will die, that’s inevitable, that’s a constant, that’s something.

IT technicians in libraries making too much noise. Its all a good joke until someone takes the nearest keyboard and breaks your crooked teeth.  Its all a laugh until you end up pissing through a tube.

Down and down and down and down

Drum solos, percussion for miles. There’s still no actual depth to any of this, four notes descending or ascending a scale, a shaker and a tom.  And still this man talks, his booming voice echoing around the library. IT doesn’t matter I’m the only one here, this room has expectations associated with its name, and you aren’t meeting those expectations, so shut up and get out.

When David Geffen and Steven Spielberg come calling you don’t say no. When Pixar memorialise you in shiny 3D you pay that cheque into the account. Hollywood doesn’t take sides, it just takes.

My beloved monster and me, a song that ages well, because it doesn’t mean anything. 49, she says, and to be honest if you’d told me she was 35 I’d believe it, but also wonder what went wrong.  Timeless and ageless, a life of apparent constant misery, how do people get this way?  Her mother takes out a loan to give her 50 quid for her birthday and she spends it on the water bill.  But she must be on a couple of grand a month?

Who knows. Not me, I honestly can’t work anything out these days.  We used to earn so much and it went to nothing or maybe it didn’t, and I didn’t want for anything, and really I don’t know either, and yet the capitalist in me is crying out for a need, for an end goal, for a desire, but it just isn’t coming these days. I mean there’s things, there’s stuff, but nothing pressing, nothing stands out.

An existential late capitalist collapse in the library at work, a poor falsetto and poor choices for a set when your audience is expecting songs from your first three albums, maybe four at a push.  And yet here we are, with polite applause and the cavernous hum of expectation going unfulfilled.  I always wanted to see this show, I was gutted I missed it, and yet it all sounds so hollow now.  And Americans will cheer swear words, and Americans will cheer anti-government sentiment and Americans will buy more cars and build bigger houses.

We are lost in a world of broken promises and hollow dreams. We are lost in the future and we can’t go back.

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