On November 13, 2015 Paris—and the world—was outraged when terrorists stormed The Bataclan Theatre and opened fire, killing 89.
Palm Desert, California rockers The Eagles of Death Metal were performing that night. Singer / guitarist Jesse Hughes and his band managed to escape the carnage, but they were forever changed.
The musicians were scarred by the first-hand account of madmen wreaking unspeakable havoc on innocent civilians. But they were more moved by the demonstrations of love and bravery on the part of the shooting victims and survivors.
The Colin Hanks-directed HBO documentary film Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) chronicled the aftermath of the tragedy, but Hughes longed to reconnect with Parisian concertgoers for a personal, more communal kind of closure. So he and the boys (and gal) went back to France on February 16, 2016 to finish their Bataclan set at the historic L'Olympia.
“Hearing the stories of the survivors, the injured, and those who have lost loved ones has been overwhelming,” says Hughes. “Not returning to finish was never an option.”
Now available on DVD from Eagle Vision, Eagles of Death Metal: I Love You All the Time—Live at The Olympia in Paris recaptures all the heartache and healing for the families, friends, and EODM fans who couldn’t join Hughes on his return trip to the City of Lights.
Directed by Vincent Bordes and Julien Alvadian, the two-hour, 20-song concert film draws on titillating tracks from all four EODM studio albums, as served up by the emotionally-charged, misty-eyed Hughes (who looks not unlike a ginger version of the Village People’s “Motorcycle Man”) and his capable coterie: Eden Galindo and Dave Catching support Hughes on guitar (with the latter wielding a Flying-V); Matt McJunkins burns on bass; and Tuesday Cross cooks on keyboards.
Julian Dorio’s drum role is shared with Hughes’ old pal (and EODM studio ace) Joshua Homme, better known as the front man of Queens of the Stone Age. Homme starts out behind the kit on the feisty “I Only Want You” (from 2004’s Peace, Love, Death Metal)—whereon the band pauses at the halfway mark to honor the fallen—and delirious “Don’t Speak (I Came to Make a Bang)” (from 2006’s Death By Sexy). Then Dorio eases onto a stool to Homme’s left and helps out on silly-but-sensational numbers “So Easy,” “Complexity,” and “Whorehoppin’.” Thereafter, the two men take turns handling percussion.
It bears mention that Eagles of Death Metal truly aren’t metal act in the same vein as Iron Maiden, Pantera, Slayer, or Anthrax. Rather, they’re a cheeky, guitar-propelled pop rock band with punk and metal tendencies (crunchy chords, fiery solos, fist-pumping hooks)—and whose euphemistic song titles and lascivious lyrics lambast rock ‘n’ roll tropes (love, lust, fast living, etc.).
The EODM moniker is just an extension of the running joke, e.g. “This is how The Eagles might sound if they played death metal.”
The pictures is crystalline and the sound stellar. The show also benefits from accurate, energetic performances by Hughes and company (on the mirthful “I Love You All the Time,” manic “Cherry Cola,” and sleazy “Got a Woman”), the engaging camera angles and close-up shots (“I Got a Feelin’,” “Miss Alissa,” “I Like to Move in the Night,” and the robust band / audience biofeedback loop that seems to keep Hughes (in his blue jeans and red suspenders) charged like a battery.
The group salutes Gerry Rafferty and Stealer’s Wheel by Eagle-izing their 1973 hit “Stuck in the Middle With You,” but it’s the cover of Duran Duran’s 1982 gem “Save a Prayer” that really capitalizes on (and cultivates) the sense of solidarity between the American band and the (largely) French crowd.
Late entries include “Wanna Be in L.A.” “I Want You So Hard,” and “Speaking in Tongues,” which has the EODM members (save Homme) change into matching black cowboy-style shirts with red, white, and blue (the French tricolor) appliques.
Bonus materials add three additional songs from a gig later in the tour at Teragram Ballroom in L.A: (“Anything ‘cept the Truth,” “Bad Dream Mama,” “Shasta Beast”).
EODM may not butter everyone’s croissant, but those who get Hughes’ fun approach and charismatic delivery will revel in the concert’s fleet-fingered guitar histrionics, rumbling rhythms, and vivacious vocals. So much more than merely another night on the Nos Amis tour, the Eagles’ Olympia engagement stands as a triumph over the evildoers who sought to undermine democracy and cultivate ill will between individual people and entire nations with their violence. The event now stands a tribute to humanity’s indomitable spirit, a testament to the power of music as medicine, and a celebration of love over hate—with Mr. Electric Boots / “The Reverend” Hughes himself presiding.
Eagles of Death Metal: I Love You All the Time—Live at the Olympia in Paris is also available on audio as a 2CD set or digital download.
Available now at Amazon.