An Evening with EELS | The Auditorium, Rome | 8 March, 2008

Originally uploaded by fasterwallace
It's not often that one goes to a concert and instead of a support band the lights go down and the audience is treated to a BBC documentary about quantum physics! However, the acclaimed Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives film about Eels front man Mark Oliver Everett and his relationship with his father, Hugh Everett III originator of the many-worlds theory of quantum physics , proved to be the perfect introduction to what was going to be an intimate Evening with Eels – after all, Mark Oliver Everett or 'E' has always used his music to process the family tragedies that have beset him over the years. What was surprising, perhaps, was just how warm and funny he was during the show, interspersing the heartbreaking intensity of the songs with mocking self irony – at one point he read his own fan mail and rave reviews. He was accompanied on stage by Jeffrey 'The Chet' Lyster , who switched with remarkable dexterity between drums, guitars and the musical saw (which sounded very much like a theremin) and also read excerpts from E's recent bestselling autobiography Things the Grandchildren Should Know. I've read recent reviews of this tour that described their on stage relationship as symbiotic – certainly their blistering Flyswatter in which they swapped back and forth between the piano and drums whilst never dropping a beat was an astounding feat of both musicianship and showmanship!

For an Eels fan it would be difficult to pick a best bit in what was quite simply a perfect evening which showcased the very best of E's song writing with the man, incidentally, also in excellent voice. The event was only slightly marred by the lack of an encore – after five minutes of applause, foot stamping in anticipation of a return to the stage by E and the Chet the lights in Sala Sinopoli suddenly came back on to an audible gasp of disappointment from the audience. Fan forums are abuzz with inside information that blame the Auditorium for curtailing the show because of time constraints... leaving us wondering which additional couple of numbers would have been added to the twenty song set list.

The full set list as follows – (thanks to Altoclef at Estranged Friends, an Eels fan forum.)
Grace Kelly Blues
It's A Motherfucker
Strawberry Blonde
The Last Time We Spoke
After The Operation
Souljacker, Pt. I
Elizabeth On The Bathroom Floor
Climbing To The Moon
My Beloved Monster
I Like Birds
(Fan mail readings and concert reviews spoken interlude)
(Chet reading excerpt from E's autobiography about meeting Angie Dickinson)
Jeannie's Diary
The Sound Of Fear
(Chet reading a further excerpt from E's autobiography about his neighbor seeing his sister's ghost)
Last Stop This Town
I Want To Protect You
Bus Stop Boxer
Novocaine For The Soul
Good Times, Bad Times (Led Zeppelin cover)
Somebody Loves You
Souljacker, Pt. II