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MUSIC REVIEW

With the zany and the unexpected, eels continue to entertain

SOMERVILLE -- When security gets involved at a rock concert, it's usually because something has gone awry, some convention has been flouted.

When the bald, heavily-muscled mountain of a man wearing the ``Security" T-shirt hit the Somerville Theatre stage Thursday night, convention was definitely being flouted, but nothing was amiss. It was simply another night with the endearing wackadoodle E -- as singer-songwriter Mark Oliver Everett calls himself -- and whatever band of merry music makers he's elected to hit the road with and call eels .

The security guard, a . k . a . Krazy Al Hunter , practically stole the nutty hour-and-45-minute performance from E and his two bearded, sunglassed backing musicians: guitarist the Chet and drummer Knuckles . That's impressive, because the trio raised a serious clatter, veering from solemn organ ballads to rockabilly throwdowns.

Hunter played bells, pipes, and a little guitar and organ, lifted weights during songs, rattled off between-song non sequiturs such as `` That's one for the book!" and `` This is what it sounds like when doves cry," and let loose with the loopy all - arms - and - knees dancing normally confined to Will Ferrell movie s .

E radically reworked many of the songs from his catalog of heartbreak and hope and dipped liberally into his B-side material. He also played oddball covers such as Frank Sinatra's ``That's Life" and Iggy Pop and Peaches' riotously simplistic anthem ``Rock Show. "

While not everything in the show worked and some of the zaniness grated (an epic, cacophonous version of ``Not Ready Yet" droned on), at least it felt as if the band was trying to entertain, not just play.

And songs such as the dark, waltz-time ballad ``I'm Going to Stop Pretending I Didn't Break Your Heart, " the floor stomper ``Rags to Rags," and the careering ``That's Not Really Funny" were indeed entertaining.

First-timers may have been disappointed when songs such as ``I Like Birds" and ``Last Stop: This Town" didn't resemble their recorded counterparts -- the former was punked out and given enthusiastic assistance from the openers, tween duo Smoosh, and the latter was stripped back to a spooky organ grind. But eels concert veterans know that the unexpected is to be expected from E.

That included a post-encore encore that occurred five minutes after the lights had been turned on and much of the sold-out crowd had already left. As Hunter doled out hits from a can of whipped cream to the fans who remained, the band ripped through ``Saturday Morning."

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