The O2 Forum came alive with emotion last night with the long awaited return of Eagles of Death Metal to the UK.
Almost a year on from their last date on these shores, what proved to be their final gig before the events that unfolded less than a week later at Le Bataclan, Paris, the band had a point to prove; rock’n’roll is about fun and frontman Jesse Hughes’ request for “everyone to have a good time!” was enthusiastically met.
After a blistering set from two piece US Band White Miles got everyone in the mood, Pilot’s ‘Magic’ played out to which Eagles’ entered, the crowd singing in unison whilst erupting in applause for the band. In that moment, not that they’re short in confidence, you could see the relief in the band’s faces, dissipating any slight nerves of returning here nine months on before everything changed for them and a lot of their fans. But rather than lapping up the appreciation for too long they launched straight into ‘I Only Want You’, a track that was flagged on stage with huge banners of a pointing Jesse dressed as Uncle Sam declaring the same.
Their was mixed discussion on how the evening was going to play out. Apart from the expected added door security and visible staff in the venue, people were more interested in what type of set the band will play. Would it be more subdued? Would it be more reflective of a difficult year? After all, since the band were directly affected by the horrific night back in Paris last year, they have seen musical forces such as Bowie and Prince leave much too young, as well their own merchandise manager Nick Alexander. How would this all affect their set? Well in short, Eagles of Death Metal paid tribute the only way they knew how to, along with some help from the crowd, including a tricolour flag with ‘LOVE’ written on it handed to Jesse by a fan, proving a useful prop during ‘I Love You All The Time’.
In tribute to the passing of Nick, Jesse stood solo at stage front declaring he wanted to sing “a song without no guitar at all, this goes out to a very dear friend of ours, an angel looking down on us, this one goes out to Nick Alexander, one of our favourite people in the whole world, we wanna give him something to smile about it.” Admittedly, Jesse is not the strongest singer in the world, but his short poignant version of ‘I’ll Blow You a Kiss in the Wind” by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart made for a difficult listen, the emotion at the end proving a bit too much for the frontman. Once the rest of the band returned to stage, they then played their tribute to David Bowie with a very well received cover of ‘Moonage Daydream’, a highlight along with the cover of Duran Duran’s ‘Save a Prayer’ that features on current album ‘Zipper Down’.
Another beautiful evening in #London at @O2ForumKTown tonight. We love y’all!
Photo by @EdJacobsPhoto pic.twitter.com/Cw8fFXUmgn
— EaglesOfDeathMetal (@EODMofficial) August 26, 2016
It wasn’t all reflection though, with the night littered with funny moments and Jesse on fine crowd-baiting form. In between playing tracks from their 12 year catalogue of songs, Jesse continually fired up the crowd hollering “Is everybody having a good time!” as well as a game of ladies versus boys, taking turns to make as much noise as possible (I think the ladies hands down won). Ever the showman, Jesse thrives on the energy he gets from the crowd and gives as well as he receives. At one point, a pair of ladies’ underwear flew onto stage before not long after a bra to complete the set, Jesse displaying on his mic stand proudly. Honourable mention also goes to the fans that provided Jesse with a gold cape early in the night and then later a denim sleeveless jacket; nothing like a freebie.
That feel-good factor the band are known for shone through massively on the night. Their wasn’t many a motionless member of the audience, even in the seats, as Eagles of Death Metal powered through fan favourites ‘Cherry Cola’, ‘Whorehoppin’ (Shit Goddamn)’, ‘English Girl’, ‘Wannabe in LA’, ‘Complexity’ and, in the encore, ‘Speaking in Tongues’. There was one special appearance during a cover of the Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’ of Rat Scabies, the drummer of punk band The Damned, who also did the same last time the band where here.
After reviewing their gig back in November, which you can read right here, there was no way of telling the journey the band, and unfortunately some of their fans, would take. A band ready to fulfill further exposure musically but instead find it in a way so unimaginably horrific. Time is a healer of course and although the events at Le Bataclan will never be forgotten, forever linked with them commercially and personally, Eagles’ are sure as hell not going to let it define them and distract away from making boogie inducing, tongue-in-cheek, care-free rock’n’roll.
1. I Only Want You
2. The Reverend
4. Whorehoppin’ (Shit, Goddamn)
5. Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M)
6. Oh Girl
7. Save a Prayer (Duran Duran cover)
8. English Girl
9. Cherry Cola
10. Got a Woman
11. Now I’m a Fool
12. Skin-Tight Boogie
13. Wannabe in L.A.
14. I Love You All The Time
15. Midnight Creeper
16. Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones cover)
17. I’ll Blow You a Kiss in the Wind (Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart cover)
18. Moonage Daydream (David Bowie cover)
19. I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)
20. Speaking in Tongues
Remaining tour dates – click here for tickets.
25-28 Aug – Le Cabaret Vert 2016, Charleville-Mezieres
26-28 Aug – Reading and Leeds Festival, UK
26-28 Aug – Rock en Seine 2016, Paris
30 Aug – Batschkapp, Frankfurt
01 Sep – Mojotic Festival, Sestri Levante
02 Sep – Acieloaperto, Cesena
09 Sep – Sala Apolo, Barcelona
11 Sep – Coliseu dos Recreios, Lisbon
Get ‘Zipper Down’ by Eagles of Death Metal: iTunes | Amazon | Google Play