LIVE: Eagles of Death Metal @ the Upstate Concert Hall, 5/31/16
Review by Steven Stock
If you like your male writers thoughtful and sensitive, Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal may not be the man for you. Hughes and his band swooped into Clifton Park last month in support of their recent album Zipper Down. The song titles reflect Hughes’ subtlety, maturity and wide-ranging lyrical concerns: “Got a Woman,” “Oh Girl,” “Skin Tight Boogie” and of course “Got a Woman (Slight Return).”
Hughes and Queens of the Stone Age frontman/multi-instrumentalist Josh Homme played virtually every note on the record, but Homme missed out on the subsequent roadwork, choosing instead to record and tour with Iggy Pop (and then, sensibly enough, to recover from touring with Iggy Pop). While Hughes needed three musicians to cover Homme’s parts, he was hardly missed, although the backing vocals were appreciably weaker than on record.
With his abundant moustache, sideburns and hair swept straight back from a prominent widow’s peak, Hughes looks like a refugee from the ’70s. His music nods in that direction as well, sounding nothing like the Eagles or death metal but rather favoring a sort of elemental bubblegum stomp that evokes T. Rex, Slade and even Kiss – a reference the band acknowledged with a brief snippet of “Rock and Roll All Night” grafted onto the set-closer “Speaking in Tongues.”
Hopefully at some point one will be able to write about EoDM without referring to the events of November 13, but we’re not there yet. The band was onstage at Le Bataclan in Paris when Islamic terrorists stormed the club. Eighty-nine people lost their lives in a hailstorm of bullets and shrapnel from explosive vests, including the band’s rep at the merchandise table.
Not quite a month later, U2 invited Eagles of Death Metal to join them onstage at Paris’ AccorHotels Arena. Together the two groups played Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power” before EoDM closed the evening with their own “I Love You All the Time.” This unlikely pairing of rock’s most earnest outfit with perhaps its archest is documented on U2’s new concert DVD Innocence + Experience.
At the Upstate Concert Hall, Hughes never alluded to the tragedy. A miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower perched onstage near the keyboards was the only mute reference. Why did the band carry on? Maybe because to do otherwise would be to give the terrorists a victory. More likely, though, based on the evidence of this show, Eagles of Death Metal persevered simply because they love to rock. They were frequently puerile and sexist, their misogyny leavened only by misanthropy – yet the smallish crowd comprised mainly of couples seemed to love them all the time.
Katy Cole’s review at NYSMusic.com
EAGLES OF DEATH METAL SET LIST
I Only Want You
Don’t Speak (I Come To Make A Bang!)
Whorehoppin’ (Shit, Goddamn)
Got a Woman
Save A Prayer (Duran Duran)
Wannabe in L.A.
I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)
I Love You All the Time
Speaking In Tongues