Live - Beck At Carling Academy, Islington

Beck is one of rock’s great chameleons. Turn up at a Beck gig and you could get anything from Mutation’s blues/country/folk to the soul, funk and hip-hop of Midnite Vultures. He could be in a T-shirt and jeans with just a Hofner for company, or in an Elvis jump-suite and a Stetson along with half of the L.A. music scene. But this was the first UK outing for new LP Guero, so we were most likely to get a hatful of its content, plus a couple of old favourites.

Inevitably, there were surprises from the off, the most striking being that Mr. Hanson has made a recent purchase from The Bez Shop and got himself a hyperactive dancing mate (albeit one with a groomed beard, aviator shades and a white tracksuit – more Baz than Bez really), but immediately the musicians on stage had settled into a trademark Beck effortless groove. No matter how many personnel changes, the Beck band maintains the highest class. The only striking change is how much younger they seem to be getting – more a reflection on the reviewer than anything else, as Beck himself hardly seems to age a day. And he can still play. And sing. And rap. And dance. If it all wasn’t so musically uplifting and outrageously cool, we’d find it all a bit depressing.

So, which Beck did turn up? With The Dust Brothers producing Guero, it was a fair call to expect the Odelay model. Only a handful of oldies got aired (disappointing the usual “play some old stuff” idiots), but as they included "Devil’s Haircut", "New Pollution", "Where It’s At" and "Hotwax", it’s a fair indication of where Beck feels the new material is at. "E-Pro" is already a standard and had the whole venue ‘Na-na-na-ing’ along with Baz. The rest of the new material, unfamiliar or not, suckered us all in within a few bars of each tune, and whether that was purely down to the performance or not, only time will tell. But what a performance it was.

Source: Richard Beeching

Live - Beck At Carling Academy, Islington