EELS: O2 Academy, Leeds

It takes a confident (or stylishly misguided) band to walk out on stage in matching black Adidas tracksuits and sunglasses but that’s exactly how EELS took to the stage at Leeds O2 Academy. As with previous tours, it’s a guitar only show, which leaves your ears ringing well into the next day.

In the Nineties frontman Mark Everett, known as E, had a reputation as being very serious whilst performing but anybody expecting a belligerent Everett to take to the stage would be sorely disappointed. With the catalogue of tragedies that he has endured rather than swallow him, Everett has used the experiences to produce simply breath-taking songs that are at once self reflective, morbid and beautiful. EELS songs often explore the darker sides of life, love and death but rather than be delivered with melancholy or pity the songs are performed with a hope and almost joyous exuberance.

Tonight the band is in high spirits and it’s genuinely touching to see the relationship between them. At one point there is even a faux commitment service between Everett and guitarist The Chet and a burst of the Bette Midler classic ‘Wind Beneath my Wings’.

The set was heavily favoured towards their latest album, “Wonderful Glorious”, the tenth offering from the band, although there were a few classic songs thrown in. Most notably “My Beloved Monster” from the 1996 debut “Beautiful Freak” was combined with “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues”, the hidden track on “Daises of the Galaxy” to wondrous effect. Considering that fans haven’t had as much time to fall in love with the new songs they were well received and the audience echoed back the choruses. Also considering the band haven’t been playing the songs as long as the earlier ones the tracks sat together nicely and showcased how tight and intuitive the band are with each other.

By the time the band took to the stage for their second encore the crowd had thinned out as the house lights went up and the audience figured that was the last they would see of the band. For the dedicated fans and the people just finishing their pints that stayed none of the electricity was lost in the venue and the band ended their set with as much conviction as they started.