Eagles Of Death Metal have had, to put it mildly, a hell of a year. Having gone from relative obscurity to unwanted infamy via a horrifying terrorist attack in Paris, the band – or, more accurately, frontman Jesse Hughes – have had to deal with things no rock’n’roll band should, and what they’ve had to say about it hasn’t always jibed with what others want them to say about it. Yet if Hughes’ outspoken views on gun control, not to mention his support of the abhorrent Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, have eroded some of the goodwill that came their way following last November’s events, there’s no sign of it today.
The banners depicting Hughes as Uncle Sam might veer towards Team America territory, but he makes no mention of the Bataclan attack during EODM’s main stage set at Leeds – and why would he, when he’s here on rock’n’roll business? The huge outpouring of enthusiasm from the crowd tells its own story, however: Hughes is lucky to be here today, and we’re lucky to have him. He reciprocates every last drop of it, too: “These motherfuckers right here pulled an intervention on me not even five weeks ago because I love people too much,” he tells the crowd after ‘Silverlake’, explaining that, “I don’t love you some of the time, I don’t love you part of the time… Hell no, I won’t do it! When I love you, I love you all of the time.”
As you might expect from a student of the form, Hughes and his band find time to pay their respects to a couple of recently-departed rock’n’roll legends: there’s an impromptu bass-and-drums run-through of Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’, as well as a cover of David Bowie’s ‘Moonage Daydream’, dedicated to Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive, who had to cancel their appearance on the main stage today. They’re also joined by impressively-hirstute Mastodon frontman Bret Hinds for opening number ‘I Only Want You’.
Eagles of Death Metal may not be the best band in the world, but there’s nowhere else you’d rather be while they’re onstage. Blessed with a receptive audience of “Rock’n’roll cannibals”, Jesse Hughes preaching from his bully pulpit is still a sight to see – and as long as this lascivious madman draws breath, we can all sleep a little more soundly at night.