Gig Review: Eagles of Death Metal @ Leeds Beckett, October 31st

Eagles of Death Metal are one of those bands you just can’t help dancing to. They’re all about that basic, age-old tenet of good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, appealingly primal in its simplicity: shaking your ass and having a good time. Leeds Beckett uni is a good venue for them; fairly small from stage to doors, but wide enough to cram a good-sized audience in. This being Halloween, there are more than a few folks dressed up – the band themselves come out in costume – and the general atmosphere is one of light-hearted, unpretentious fun, which nicely describes the Eagles’ music itself.

First up though, the two support acts. Feverist are underwhelming, drawing from a lot of influences without melding them together very well. Veering from funk-inflected pop to more punk-leaning noise and then to moody balladry, they sound like they haven’t worked out how they want to sound yet. That said, they’re still young so maybe they’ll bloom into something more interesting in time (and special mention should be made of their drummer – I can’t find her name anywhere – who holds things together with some relentlessly furious playing, tying the noisier moments together more or less on her own).

The second support act –White Miles – fare better with their stripped back, bluesy punk (they’re a two piece; a singer/guitarist prone to throwing herself over to the other end of the stage while busting out meaty power chord riffs, and a drummer who, again, is impressively furious and loud). Despite the sameness of their set – each of their songs are essentially based on the same couple of riffs, in early punk fashion – they definitely whip the crowd up and feel more appropriately ‘rocky’ than Feverist, considering the band they’re warming up for.

The main event is a raucous, hip-swinging affair, as EODM rip through a set filled with fan favourites and a couple of cuts from their new album, Zipper Down. Frontman Jesse Hughes keeps constant banter with both the crowd and his bandmates, extolling the virtues of dancing, fucking and generally having fun, beginning by swigging half a bottle of whiskey. He finishes it off later in the set, and despite mentioning a few times how he is “feeling the effects of the demon bottle”, his voice and guitar-playing are on fine form. The cynic in me wonders how much ‘rock god’ myth-making is going on and whether or not the bottle actually had something altogether less alcoholic in it. Either way, it doesn’t matter; the man is genuinely talented and undeniably charming, and the band as a whole are tight, groovy and never taking themselves too seriously.

There are still unfortunately a couple of moments the show could have done without – for some reason, at one point the rest of the band go offstage for a few minutes, leaving Hughes to tackle two songs on his own, and honestly both tracks feel a bit listless without at least some drums. A guitar duel towards the end of the set, between Hughes and rhythm guitarist Dave Catching, also goes on a few licks too long, but hey – it wouldn’t be rock ‘n’ roll without some excess. Overall, it’s a fun night – ‘I Like To Move in the Night’ and ‘Kiss the Devil’ are highlights, the latter absolutely stomping along and proving irresistibly danceable – and it’s liberating to be in the company of a band who really believes in, as Hughes himself puts it, “the power of rock ‘n’ roll”. Go Eagles.



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