March 23rd of 2000 found the Eels on France’s Black Sessions, making a stop on their Respect the Rock Tour in the waning days of the 21st Century in support of their latest record Daisies of the Galaxy. The album was a sweeter, chirpier affair than 1998’s mournful (but moving) Electro-Shock Blues, so the band toured with a coterie of strings and horns to evoke the sunlight found therein. And Lisa Germano was there too.

This is one of the Eels’ most notable bootlegs, so popular and sought-after that it can even be picked up in slick packaging at some less finicky European record stores. And quite justly so: The set, shorter than the average show that year, is tight and highly enjoyable, and the bootleg itself is pulled off decently. The songs lilt melodiously and disarm the listener effortlessly. Except when they’re melancholic, but even then they’re too sublime to have grudges held against them.

The setlist is primarily a DOTG showcase, though this full set–restoring songs cut from the radio broadcast–is chock-a-block with Eels gems past and future. “Overture” kicks off the show with a medley of orchestral Eels interpretations, while “Susan’s House,” from 1996’s Beautiful Freak, is retooled as an unexpectedly optimistic and swooning tune. The obligatory “Novocaine for the Soul” makes an appearance and rawks pro forma but well.

“Suicide Life” didn’t resurface until 2005’s Blinking Lights & Other Revelations, while “The Cheater’s Guide to Your Heart” wouldn’t see the light of day–officially–until early 2008. The cover of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” appeared only on this tour but can now be found on the official live album Oh What a Beautiful Morning, made available at the end of 2000.

The indisputable highnote of this bootleg, and very likely the entire tour, is of “Brave Little Soldier,” a song that has so far appeared only live. It remains one of the best examples of Eels frontman E’s philosophical point of view, a jaunty, rough-and-tumble optimism complete with armed robbery. Kinda like country-fried ennui with a side of smiley fries. Mmm.

Track Listing:

  1. Overture
  2. Feeling Good
  3. Grace Kelly Blues
  4. My Beloved Monster
  5. It’s a Motherfucker
  6. Jeannie’s Diary
  7. I Like Birds
  8. The Cheater’s Guide to Your Heart
  9. Suicide Life
  10. Can’t Help Falling in Love
  11. Flyswatter
  12. Orchestra Introduction
  13. Mister E’s Beautiful Blues
  14. Susan’s House
  15. Novocaine for the Soul
  16. Brave Little Soldier