It’s of course difficult to forget that tonight forms part of Eagles of Death Metal‘s first Australian tour since last year’s tragic Paris siege. Walking into the Croxton Bandroom, the incredibly heightened security for a rock concert is conspicuous, with both metal and explosive detectors at play, as well as pat-downs and bag searches. Following this, however, November’s distressing events barely register throughout a fun and seemingly care-free night.
EODM’s tour openers, All The Colours ensure punters are already air-guitaring, thanks to their tight, dirty blues clangers. This shredding rock outfit mesh guitarist Joshua Mann’s tuneful crooning with bassist Josh Moriarty’s throaty howl. Demonstrating much of their latest album Vol. 2, the leather-clad trio perform songs such as wormy Western groove Love Song and hookier single Jonathan to a quickly filling bandroom. Moriarty informs us that the record was made in California with help from EODM touring guitarist Dave Catching, but this reviewer misses who exactly in EODM Moriarty deems the “best moustache in show business” to belong to. Only time will tell.
Following their conclusion, there’s a long wait before Eagles of Death Metal (sans Josh Homme, who hasn’t joined the Australian tour) finally grace the stage. A few false starts, however, in the form of pre-emptive spots of silences, really work to get the crowd warmed up. The band eventually arrive to raucous appreciation. Effervescent, red-suspendered frontman Jesse Hughes, (AKA Boots Electric), conducts the crowd in a pre-show singalong to Pilot’s Magic – “oh ho, ho it’s magic!”. Hughes purposefully waxes his mo and puts on his trademark red-tinted sunnies with characteristic showmanship. The band kick off ecstatically with Bad Dream Mama, punters eating up guitarist Dave “Davey Jo” Catching’s murky guitar solo. Sporting an enormous white beard, Catching could easily pass for a long lost member of ZZ Top. Yet the title of “best moustache in show business” is obviously held by Hughes.
Pairing fast-paced, chugging verses with explosive choruses, Eagles of Death Metal have managed to create a distinctively catchy variety of pop-fuelled, bare-knuckled hard-rock. Loose, no-frills and unapologetically boozed up, at times it’s unclear if the guys are an OTT send-up of a cartoonish, over-sexed cock-rock-n-roll band, (see lyrics such as Whorehoppin’s “shit goddamn I’m a man”). Either way, it’s hard to deny that Eagles of Death Metal’s vigorous, committed and thoroughly entertaining performance proves a winning combination.
With four albums worth of back-catalogue to choose from, each song manages to spark the crowd’s excitement, as do their many high-octane covers, such as forever popular choice, Stealers Wheel’s Stuck In The Middle With You. After a gendered screaming contest, Hughes assures the women in the crowd that he’s he’s “artistically interested in each and everyone” of us, before dedicating Cherry Cola to “the ladies”. This hit proves an early crowd favourite, while later, Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M.)’s chorus –”Don’t you know who I am?!” – results in a crowd-wide singalong, to Hughes’ obvious delight.
Interspersed throughout the show, Hughes regales us with his alcohol/drug-riddled stories, armed with his recognisable warmth and wackiness. He frequently returns to his apparently wild night out at Ding Dong Club the night before, where he invites us back later tonight for bible study (Hughes is, in fact, an actual ordained priest). Occasionally breaking into a feverish, preacher-like rant, infused with his charming southern drawl, the crowd consistently responds with shouts of worship. He also throws guitar picks into the audience like candy.
After the completion of a long set, Hughes returns to the stage for a solo encore, asking for requests from the audience. It’s an endearingly sloppy and earnest few songs, which includes a welcomed diatribe against Axl Rose and a rendition of Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar. He then brings the rest of the band back out for their cover of Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer, which features on their latest album, as well as old favourite I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News). Each band member eventually competes in some back-and-forth solo wars, polishing off one of the loosest and elongated encores imaginable. Suffice it to say, Eagles conclude the night on a high of neck sweating, beard stroking and guitar shredding frenzy. Piercing his constant, effusive spouts of love for and gratitude to his fans, Hughes nevertheless ensures that it all feels fun, spontaneous and never too serious.
Gallery: Eagles Of Death Metal – The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne 2016 / Photos By Kylie Carns