Eels, The Word Arena
Having seen Eels a fortnight prior to Latitude at Main Square Festival, I was appropriately excited for the sublime set I knew was in store. It was a performance that converted me from a casual fan to a full on screaming teenage girl.
Mark Oliver Everett's life has been blighted by tragedy, much of which has been the influence behind his 13 albums. His lyrical black humour and rock n' roll style instrumentation translates well on stage but what makes E's performance really special is the emphasis on entertainment. The band is visually fantastic, with each member looking identical to E's new image of world's best beard, shades and suits, complete with a brass duo. E himself is not only a brilliant musician, but massively funny. Indeed, moreso than the vast majority of comedians booked for Latitude. Everett filled the gaps in songs with one-liners such as 'They love us!' and revealing that among Knuckles the drummer's favourite things on Earth happens to be 'your local sports team'. This line came shortly before Knuckles burst out in song; a song that was purely about himself.
Despite being inarguably the single coolest man on the planet, E comes across as very human through the honesty in his songs, revealing insecurity, jealousy and depression. This contributed to a sense of inclusion at the gig and added to E's all round likeableness.
Having been together since 1995, Eels attracted an array of fans of different ages, from the lifelong fans to those who heard him on the Shrek soundtrack. Performing songs spanning from the classic sing along Beautiful Freak album to the more recent Souljacker and El Hombre Lobo, the band played updated rock n' roll versions of well-known tracks such as My Beloved Monster and I Like Birds, allowing the favourites to be played but keeping it consistent with the moderised sound and image. The scripted pantomime of a performance showed a band that genuinely cared about entertainment and certainly delivered it. The lack of an encore left the crowds yearning for more, but what they received was far from dissatisfying.