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Beck: Caught live at Hammersmith Apollo (June '05)


Review: Jack Foley

BECK has often been hailed as a musical genius - on the strength of his performance at London's Hammersmith Apollo on Thursday, June 2, 2005, it was easy to see why.

The gig marked the second of two dates in the capital and was an energetic romp through Guero, his latest album, and the back catalogue which served to underline the individuality of the artist and the diversity of his music.

From the early moments of Devil's Haircut through to the pre-encore finale that was E-Pro, the crowd at the Apollo was held in awe of the performer, as he danced, sang, played guitar, scratched, mixed and performed on his keyboards for a little under two hours.

Joining him on-stage were a similarly talented bunch of musicians; all eccentric in their own way, from the bass player, to the drummer, right down to the Bez-like dancer who frequently had the crowd baying for more as he strut his stuff across the stage.

There were many times when you simply didn't know where to look, given that so much was taking place, yet far from appearing gimmicky or detracting from the music, it simply enhanced the spirit of the show and the sell-out crowd loved every minute.

Highlights included blistering versions of his biggest hits, Devil's Haircut, Loser, Where It's At and New Pollution, but almost every track reverberated with a brilliance reserved for only the most talented artists.

Girl, for instance, is one of the most feel-good tracks on Beck's CV (and a forthcoming single), and effortlessly succeeded in radiating its sunshine vibe to the crowd.

While Jack-Ass (from Odelay) provided a nice contrast, slowing things down a little to provide Beck with a platform for his acoustic guitar, mingled with some more West Coast melodies torn right from the Seventies.

Black Tambourine (from Guero) did, as its title suggests, bring out the tambourine, as well as placing Beck's own Bez firmly in the dancing spotlight.

And Get Real Paid (from Midnite Vultures) brought the whole show to an end in spectacularly grandiose fashion, showcasing Beck's ability to blend hip-hop beats with electronic blips, as well as elements of pop and the usual quirky lyrics.

Perhaps most remarkable, however, was the acoustic set, during which Beck took centre stage with just his acoustic guitar while his band members sat around a table, eating salad and drinking rose wine ('with a hint of walnut').

During this time, Beck delivered classics such as Guess I'm Doing Fine and Lost Cause, from the melancholy Sea Change album, as well as a brilliant cover version of The Flaming Lips' Do You Realize?

He rounded it off, however, by venturing over to the table and joining in as each band member transformed their cutlery, wine glasses and plates into an impromptu percussion and provided an amazing beat to the lyrics of Clap Hands.

It was one of those rare concert moments when you knew you had witnessed something special and deservedly drew a riot of applause.

It provided the outstanding moment of a concert designed to bring out the superlatives.

 

 

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