The last time Mr E toured these shores he looked as if he might be heralding the end of the world. Dressed all in white with a Moses beard and gangsta bandana, his songs were about inner struggle and personal redemption. Between songs he remained mute and mysterious. How things have changed. This year the band is touring the much fuzzier Wonderful, Glorious and last night Mark Everett hardly shut up.
The change in mood was evident even before the band had taken to the stage. As I arrived “The Candy Man” from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory was playing over the PA and there was a jolly feeling in the building. Soon, a 19-year-old from South London called Misty Miller arrived on stage. She was the main support act, looked like Laura Marling and stood, with precocious confidence, jamming out blues riffs reminiscent of the White Stripes. Still, her voice, melodies and words were very much her own and really quite spellbinding. If she had been the only entertainment on offer I would have left content.
After Miller left the stage a collection of roadies wearing grey 1970s style tracksuits started to prepare for the main event. The band too were wearing tracksuits, theirs being navy blue. At the back, P-Boo and The Chet sported aviator sunglasses. In front were two risers: one for the drums and the other for Mr E who, after the opener “Cancer for the Cure”, welcomed us with a cheery, “Yeah, the motherfucking Eels are in the house.” This was, evidently, not going to be one of their more intense, cathartic evenings.