Review of his gig in Whelan's, Dublin, 3 June 2001
A good half hour goes by with much frowning and chin-scratching and the soundman is out with his Stanley knife, so something must be seriously wrong. We can only presume that the band has sound-checked - the pre-rehearsed number Eitzel performed with support act Cane 141 would certainly suggest so - but now, while valuable gig time's a wastin', a power-pack desists until finally the band (a three-piece including Eitzel) roll on defeated. And that is the general air to begin with.
So, minus a keyboard but with samples and beats and one substitute baby synth, half a dozen new songs are put out to air, a decision conscientiously defended by our stagesmith, as a simple celebration of their merits. But it's an ill-thought decision after all, especially given the gig's fraught beginnings. Despite the apparent reverence of this surprisingly considerate Saturday-night crowd, and for all Eitzel's endearingly lopsided self-deprecation, tonight the Whelan's train never really leaves the station. But for the unaccompanied encore, where a hot-hearted 'Lazarus' at least manages to inject some badly needed passion-fuel into the performance engine. It's a brave stab at recovery and enough to send the converted home happy, but if this gig was lost for the not-so-sure at the outset, the admittance of lazy-eared, talkative club-goers at this over-run hour does little to help garner conviction - creating, as it does, a restless, 'open mic' vibe.
The man and his music deserve better than this technologically hampered squib, for sure. Better luck next time? we hope.