Eagles of Death Metal work a rock and roll revival in Boston
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
Chances are pretty solid that the crowd was going to cheer Eagles of Death Metal no matter how they walked on stage. But Jessie Hughes, a.k.a. “The Devil” or “Boots Electric,” is a natural crowd pleaser.
So in a nod to Fenway Park, which sits across the street from Boston’s House of Blues, he came out clad in a David Ortiz Red Sox jersey as Pilot’s “Magic” played on the PA. Laughs and cheers alternated but the audience dug it and it was just the beginning.
And after taking off a jersey to reveal a Wade Boggs t-shirt (with suspenders), he told the crowd about loving the similarly mustachioed Boggs as a kid in the 1980s, how the Sox hitter was something of an inspiration at the time. But not before they launched into a burning “I Only Want You” to really turn the pressure up in the room.
It’s a funny idea to think of him following a guy who played baseball with all the flair of a technician. But that meticulous approach rubbed off in that they each deliver with watch-setting reliability. Boots didn’t grow up to bat .350 but instead fronts one a band that serves as a whirlwind of ass-shaking ridiculousness. An Eagles of Death Metal show is a relentless barrage of giddy rock and roll that’s heavy on the groove and unafraid to unleash a guitar solo that would make the 1970s proud.
As that 4/4 stomp gets rolling, out comes guitarist Dave Catching to tear a series of riffs out of a Flying V. Sudden stops and starts punctuate “Don’t Speak (I Came to Make a Bang),” which has become something of an anthem for the band in the 10 years since Death By Sexy was released.
They took chances with the set, too, incorporating Zipper Down’s “Skin-Tight Boogie” and their cover of Duran Duran’s “Save a Prayer.” But the common thread was Hughes as a gleefully sleazy rock and roll preacher, working the crowd and getting the floor dancing on just about every tune.
Finding that balance between irreverence and entertainment is so rare in the rock and roll world. Being able to goof around with the crowd while also whipping out an outrageous groove and a mean solo and have it all feel authentic is not as easy as just growing an oversized mustache and letting those suspenders do the walking. There’s a lot of work in getting those songs to be so good as to get over the crowd every night.
By the time the encore rolled around, introduced by the Devil himself rolling solo through “Midnight Creeper,” the venue turned into a love fest for “I Love You All the Time,” and finally, “Speaking in Tongues,” which serves as the band’s message statement at this point.
Eagles of Death Metal are as dependable and reliable a band as they come. If Hughes isn’t a natural, he’s seasoned and practiced enough to make it feel as if he came out of the womb dancing. And he makes sure the crowd follows him along the way.
Email Nick Tavares at firstname.lastname@example.org