February 18, 2009
Eagles Of Death Metal
Watch out madames et mademoiselles, the birds of prey (sans Josh) take on the city of love. Nouveau Casino, Paris, Tuesday, January 27
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Resplendent in a shocking pink T-shirt, Jesse ‘The Devil’ Hughes marvels at the Parisian crowd: “Honey, there are some beautiful babies here tonight.
I sense that you wanna see some muthafuckin’ rock’n’roll!” And with that, we’re off at a thousand miles an hour. At least AC/DC like cars and beer too – Eagles are purely about zee mademoiselles.
At a time when guitar bands are fretting over their directions and desperately trying to be IMPORTANT, it’s refreshing to encounter
a band who just want to have a laugh and get laid. Watching Jesse doing his rooster-with-an-axe routine, you realise it’s ages since you saw someone actually enjoying themselves onstage. And somehow, while it’s all done with slapstick irony – at one point Jesse does his hair in the back of guitarist Darlin’ Dave’s silver guitar – it never feels like just a joke. Maybe it’s because the band look like proper sleazeball Yanks who have come over here to screw our dissatisfied European women (Queens drummer Joey Castillo – Josh Homme’s substitute – and bassist ‘Big Hands’ Brian can only be described as ‘sex ogres’). Maybe it’s due to the fact they’re impressively tight and punchy. And maybe it’s because beneath Jesse’s smirk, some genuine liberation is taking place.
For, like Iggy before him, Jesse is a reformed dork. Later, when he’s in his hotel room chatting up three ladies at the same time, he confesses this all only came about after his badass pal Homme took the joke songs Jesse wrote after his divorce seriously and practically pushed him into forming the Eagles. “Dude, I couldn’t play, and I was really fat!” While traces of geek remain – his milk bottle-thick glasses, the porn piled beside his bed – the fact that a French girl has her hand down his jeans as he talks shows that the mask of ‘The Devil’ has stuck fast.
Onstage he both parodies and is a rock’n’roll animal. After a malevolent ‘I Like To Move In The Night’, Eagles do their usual encore of covers – tonight it’s the Ramones’ ‘Beat On The Brat’ and a thunderous version of The Damned’s ‘New Rose’. When they’re done, Jesse puts down his guitar and does a weird kind of victory dance, shaking his ass and punching the air.
It’s funny, daft, and an expression of music as pure escape. Thank Christ someone’s trying to be a rock star out there.
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