Mark Eitzel – Whelans – Gig Review – 12-02-17 by Killian Laher
Photos by M Quinn
It’s easy to think the moment has passed for Mark Eitzel. Not that he or his former band American Music Club ever came that close, though 1993’s Mercury is regarded by some critics as ‘the missed opportunity’, an album that was just too strange for mainstream ears. So in theory, doomed to play to ever decreasing crowds every couple of years. But music doesn’t always work out in such linear terms. There was a healthy turnout on a cold Sunday night in February, perhaps prompted by the buzz around the new Bernard Butler produced album. The night opened with a short set from Argentinian singer Fernando. His brand of guitar-based, country rock has many of the right ingredients, and some decent songs like True Instigator. But he lacked any truly killer melodies or a unique voice, though his set was well-received.
Mark Eitzel was accompanied by a bassist, keyboard player and percussionist, who provided a subtle backdrop for Eitzel to really inhabit his songs. Despite the presence of an incongruous giant amp, the band played a mixture of newer songs and some older material. Eitzel played impressive acoustic guitar on Nothing and Everything and a dramatic version of In My Role As Professional Singer and Ham. He ditched the guitar for sublime vocal performances of Mission Rock Resort and new song Mr Humphries, and on the latter one could draw a line running from AMC classic Johnny Mathis’ Feet, through Neil Hannon to get to this point.
Mark’s mood can often have a bearing on the evening, and for the most part he seemed in good form, joking about knowing who the Liverpool manager is, but when someone piped up “you’ll never walk alone” he replied “yes you f**king will”. He complained later about how he wasn’t going to play here again, how he makes no money from it. Musically, faster songs like The Last Ten Years and La Llorona were played with urgency, ending them off with rockist flourishes.
After a relatively short set, they encored with American Music Club songs Apology for an Accident and Jesus’ Hands. The first of these almost collapsed at the end with Eitzel imploring the drummer to “stop, please, stop”, but both songs were rapturously received by a lively audience. An audience who saw a fine singer… and songwriter… but far from a generic one. Witty songs, sung with passion, there can have been few there who left unimpressed.
What Holds the World Together
The Last Ten Years
Mission Rock Resort
Nothing and Everything
I Love You but You’re Dead
In My Role as Professional Singer and Ham
Go Where the Love Is
Apology for an Accident