On oft-used cliche in sporting circles is that football is “a game of two halves”. Well last night in the Paradiso was more like an American football match: a game of four quarters. I’ll start with the final quarter when the Eels really turned up the heat with a performance that was highly energetic, highly entertaining, and verging on crazy now and then. I don’t know whether the cover version of Summertime is a standard fixture in their set-list, but it was brilliantly bizarre.
It was another cover, Summer In The City, that kicked the second half of their set (i.e. my fourth quarter…stay with me!) to life. Prior to that the songs, even though a mix of tempos, were just a bit boring. The slow ones didn’t really go anywhere and the faster, louder ones didn’t really ever off. But from about halfway in they seemed to start lifting their game – Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues borrowed very heavily from the Beatles’ version of Twist and Shout, which worked really well. And all in all the last half hour was great fun. E himself finally spoke to us a few songs before the end, getting us to sing happy birthday to one of his band members. I thought it was a bit unnecessary to come back three times for three separate single-song encores, but all in all I went home happy.
Oh, and there were beards. Lots of beards. Not sure why.
The second quarter, or the second support act, was Alice Gold, on solo electric guitar and rather shouty vocals. Actually the songs weren’t too bad and she was an impressive performer. But her Axl Rose meets Bonnie Tyler singing got a bit annoying after a while, and anyway the songs would probably benefit from a more subtle performance. She may go places.
Which is a lot more than can be said for the first quarter/first “support” act. Quite why the promoters thought it would be a good idea to have a fifty-something ventriloquist who looked like a pudgy Elvis throwback in a tartan suit try to entertain this audience is a mystery. He was easily the WORST support act I have EVER seen. And also the worst ventriloquist as it happens. It was excruciatingly embarrassing watching him try to get a volunteer to come up on stage with him. Really, really terrible.
So, a game of four quarters, that finally came to life at the end. Was it worth the €35? Probably not…