Live: Eels / The Inspector Cluzo

Epic Studios, Norwich April 5, 2023

by Jan Kelly

Calling The Inspector Cluzo simply a support band is doing them a bit of an injustice. This duo from France have the sound of a full rock band, even though there are only two of them.

Back home, Laurent Lacrouts and Mathieu Jourdain are organic farmers but they are also a self-financed band with their own record label, Fuckthebassplayer (because they don’t need one).

Original and brilliant: The Inspector Cluzo (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)
Original and brilliant: The Inspector Cluzo (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)

The pair – friends for 30 years – are total opposites, with Lacrouts on guitar and vocals with his wild crazy hair and the bald Jourdain suited and booted (well, they’re trainers, actually) on drums.

They open with the bluesy Act Local Think Global before the more classic-rock feel of Running A Family Farm Is More Rock ‘n’ Roll Than Playing Rock ‘n’ Roll Music.

There are tones of AC/DC and Metallica – even compatriots Trust, perhaps – alongside their own unique take of rock and roll, blues and funk.

Suited and trainered: Mathieu Jourdain (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)
Suited and trainered: Mathieu Jourdain (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)

Horizon, the title track of their new album, is more melodic but it still packs a punch, while Rockophobia mentions Iggy Pop’s dick (why wouldn’t you?).

The hard and fast Put Your Hands In The Air is their final song, with Jourdain crowd-surfing and Lacrouts throwing (or, rather, with cool French style, casually dropping) the cymbals into the pit.

It’s original, brilliant and great fun.

The Inspector Cluzo's Laurent Lacrouts (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)
The Inspector Cluzo’s Laurent Lacrouts (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)

By the time Eels come on, it’s at full capacity and no one with a vantage spot is going to move.

Formed in 1991, main man Mark Oliver Everett (“E”) is the only original member remaining, but it’s his distinctive voice that makes the band what they are.

These UK shows are their first since 2019 before the pandemic, and they’ve put out two albums since then, which means there’s a whole load of songs tonight that no one here has heard live before.

The always distinctive E (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)
The always distinctive E (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)

Steam Engine is one of them, and it gets things under way with a few deliberately out-of-tune bars of trumpeting before turning into a mellow number.

There are half a dozen songs from 2020’s Earth To Dora record – with stand-outs including the title track and the typically Eels-ish Anything For Boo – and there are also a handful of tracks from this year’s Extreme Witchcraft, including Good Night On Earth and Amateur Hour.

E tells us that they’ve been unable to grow old gracefully. Instead, they came out of lockdown and – Bam! – they were old.

It's back to work for Little Joe (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)
It’s back to work for Little Joe (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)

But “you can be as old as fuck and still rock like fuck!” he screams.

The band is big on chat and banter, with drummer Little Joe pretending to Facetime his daughter who wants him to put her to bed, but he tells her he must go out to work to buy food for her.

Meanwhile, everyone in the band is wearing a smart watch (doctor’s orders, E says), and when they reach their exercise goals we’ll be informed. Indeed, we are, with Little Joe being the first to get there.

Eels deliver a whole bunch of new songs (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)
Eels deliver a whole bunch of new songs (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)

Alongside the new songs and the classics (I Like Birds is one of the highlights) are a bunch of eclectic covers, including NRBQ’s Me And The Boys and Nancy Sinatra’s Drummer Man.

And there’s a stroke of genius when they mash My Beloved Monster with You Really Got Me, taking the lyrics from the Eels song and doing it to the tune of The Kinks classic.

The fantastic Novocaine For The Soul brings the main set to an end, but there’s still a long way to go, with not just one but two encores.

Eels are big on the banter (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)
Eels are big on the banter (Picture: Jason@screamphotographic)

It means we get another five songs, including Last Stop: This Town, and it’s all rounded off with God Gave Rock And Roll To You.

Eels aren’t old, despite what E told us earlier. But even if they feel they are, they do indeed rock like fuck.

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