There’s a perceived wisdom with us Brits, that Americans don’t get irony. This is of course not true. It shows up in whipsmart network comedies like Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, they just don’t use it as much socially as us. We use it to tease our friends. We’ve weaponised the use of sarcasm as a defence mechanism. We avoid sincerity until it’s absolutely needed, all the time mercilessly taking the piss out of people we like or dislike. We are also self-deprecating, with a swagger and a smile.
These dates are going out under the banner “24th Anniversary Tour”, but the band didn’t form until 1998! They neither play death metal, or sound like the Eagles, which in a strange way, is allegedly how they actually came to be named as they are.
Apparently, Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme, were in a bar watching a man dance to the song “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions. When asked what he was doing, the man yelled, “This is death metal, dude!”, to which Homme replied, “No, it’s not. This is like the Eagles of death metal.” An alternative story concerning the origin of the band name claims that the name originated during an exchange in which a friend of Homme was attempting to convert Hughes to the death metal genre. When the friend played a song by the Polish band Vader and made a claim that the song was within the death metal genre, Homme then referred to Vader as “the Eagles of death metal”. After hearing this phrase, Hughes wondered what a cross between the Eagles and a death metal band would sound like. [Wikipedia]
And tonight, I’m at the O2 Ritz Manchester to find out for myself.
Bounding onto the stage to We Are Family by Sister Sledge, in a fetching red jumpsuit, a la Guantánamo Bay chic, and sporting Union Jack footwear, Hughes surveys the crowd like it’s a major festival in a giant field, trying to reach those poor souls at the back, who are merely dots on the horizon. Even to a 3/4s full Ritz, this man operates on a grand scale. This is a rock ‘n’ roll show and over the next 60 minutes or so, Hughes is the perfect showman and ringmaster. Although Homme is an integral part of the writing process with Hughes, he rarely plays live with the band outside the US, due to other commitments with Queens of The Stone Age. The touring line up this time out is Hughes (guitar/vox), Palaye Royale bassist, Jennie Vee, and drummer Jorma Vik (ex-The Bronx). They are joined by Josh Jove of LA band, The Shelters, on guitar, cutting a fine dash tonight in his rather fetching black Homburg and shades.
Musically EODM, are basically a blues band, with scuzzy guitar and pounding bass, here to bring the good times. Lyrically? Well, to not put too finer point on it, we’re talking sex. They are a natural progression from the lineage that gave us ZZ Top and Rocket From The Crypt. It’s over 6 years ago since their last album, Zipper Down and there’s nothing new to promote, so it’s hard to fathom the motivation behind this jaunt across the pond, other than perhaps just to feel the adrenaline rush of playing live in front of real people. Shasta Beast opens the show and we’re getting down and dirty already (“I wanna pick the lock and break your chastity!”) Jennie Vee owns the stage, with her long blonde locks, striking red minidress and shades combo. This what Penelope Pitstop would look like, if she wasn’t just the sexiest cartoon of my childhood but played badass bass guitar, with a Robert Smith adorned guitar strap fixed to her Fender! This is “good ole boy music”. It could only have been born in the USA, but fortunately for us, unlike The Boss, the majority of songs struggle to break 2 and a half minutes, and the energy levels are preserved. The downside is less than 10 minutes in the pit, to capture some images and the management have stopped us from shooting from the crowd. [I’m always making excuses, aren’t I?]
The crowd break into a “Jesse, Jesse” chant in between songs as he tells us “that rock and roll can save the motherfucking world” and how happy they are to be here in Manchester, playing live again. Of course, nobody wants to acknowledge the elephant in the room [EODM were playing The Bataclan in 2015, when masked terrorists stormed the building, leaving 90 dead, including one of the bands road crew] and Jesse alludes to it, saying that “this band has been through some tough shit together” and that he loves each and every one of us for showing up tonight. His offer of hugging and kissing every last “motherfucking one of you”, would have certainly been taken up pre-Covid, judging by the crowd’s reaction. He is using a huge dose of poetic licence here, because none of the current line-up were in the band that fateful night in Paris. They are very much the epitome of the caretaker’s broom.
Don’t Speak (I Came To Make A Bang) and Anything ‘Cept The Truth follow, the later with the brilliant lines, “I’ll tell you anything baby, except the truth,
I’ve got nothing but everything to prove!”
As it’s his show, Jesse even drops in one of the tracks from his “Boots Electric” alter ego, Complexity, an Electric Six style singalong, again dripping in sexual imagery.
Before Cherry Cola, Jesse gets the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to a girl, who had turned 15 that day. By the time I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News) drops, we’ve already romped through Heart On, Secret Plans, Flames Go Higher and Whorehoppin’ (Shit, Goddam), plus the self-effacing Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M), about a guy, who is trying to get into a club for a late drink “I am from Silverlake and I am in a cool band, Don’t you know who I am?” See they can do irony!
They end the set with, “a song written before most of us were born”, Bowie’s Moonage Daydream [released in 1972] before romping back on for a 4-song encore, starting with Elvis’s Can’t Help Falling In Love and climaxing with Speaking In Tongues. Blimey, all this sexiness even got to your humble scribe!
EODM, self-deprecating, with a swagger and a smile. A serious band, which doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Pure entertainment.