Eels - Live at the New Theatre Oxford review

Last Sunday (March 23), I went to the New Theatre in Oxford for the Eels show. Before moving to England I didn't know much about the Eels - even though the founder of Eels, Mark Oliver Everett, AKA E, is originally from Virginia and now LA. Here in England though, the handful of musicians that I've talked to about the Eels have not only heard of them, but really like them.

The New Theatre was the perfect venue for the show. Old school, multi level, plush seats. There are two public bars, but drinks aren't cheap. One thing is for sure, though - they didn't like cameras at this show. Every time a flash went off, the theatre staff would go running toward it! They had their work cut out for them that night.

Before the music started a film was shown - Mark Oliver Everett's "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives", a documentary about his famous physicist father, the late Hugh Everett III. I skipped that because I had already seen it when it was originally screened on BBC Four back in November. I do recommend it though.

After the film, a full band set-up was displayed on the stage, so naturally I thought that E would be playing with a band. That wasn't the case at all. Throughout the night it was just E and his band mate, introduced as "The Chet" (Jeffrey Lyster), who played and entertained, and it was funny watching them walk onto the stage dressed in matching mechanic jump suits, reminiscent of Mike Watt, Glastonbury 2007.

The quality of musicianship between the two is top notch. The Chet played guitar, piano, drums, pedal steel and my favorite of the night - the saw, played with a bow. I can't believe the tone he was able to get out of it, and the wonderful vibrato, especially on "Bus Stop Boxer".

E also went from piano, guitar and at one point when The Chet was on drums, E slowly slid behind the kit as The Chet slid out - while still playing. I remember from the "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives" documentary that E was originally a drummer, so it made sense that he sounded great on the skins.

Eels fans may already be aware of the fact that Mark Oliver Everett has written a book, an autobiography entitled Things the Grandchildren Should Know. A couple times during the show they would stop playing and The Chet would stand up at a podium and read aloud excerpts from the book. It was a good idea, and the parts that he read were interesting, including the time when E first moved to LA and met Angie Dickinson while she was getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

When The Chet got up to read from the book for the second time, a heckler from the audience yelled out, "Tosser"! They handled it well, though, and made a joke about not knowing what "tosser" meant and that The Chet tosses a good salad. They got a good laugh from the audience.

They played songs from the 'Meet The Eels' and 'Useless Trinkets' albums, and toward the end of the show, the song that I'm most familiar with by Eels, their first single release from the late '90s, "Novocaine for the Soul" (watch video). It was great to hear it live.

The Chet also had his turn on vocals as he played drums and sang on a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times". Other songs included, "Strawberry Blonde", "Souljacker Pt. I" and "Jeannie's Diary".

Eels US leg of the tour starts March 28, 2008 in Philadelphia. If you can, try and catch one of their shows. It was a great night of music and entertainment.

For more information, tour dates and music, go to:

Eels Official Website

By: Jenny May -

Jenny May music

3 thoughts on “Eels - Live at the New Theatre Oxford review

  1. Adam

    I thought the playing ability of the two musicians really shone through that night. The whole hall was truly filled with warmth and sound created by the barest minimum of instruments and vocals. Another great element of the show was the sheer slickness of transitions between numbers - they crammed a heck of a lot of songs into the night, especially considering they were having to switch around instruments all the time. And yeah; the switcheroo-piano-to-drums move they pulled during Flyswatter was an instant classic. Pure entertainment.

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