Sunday, May 27, 2012

Beck: Ready For His Close-Up

24 MAY, 2012

After a few quiet years, with more time seemingly spent behind the boards than in front of them, 2012 appears to be the year Beck returns to the spotlight.  Having just wrapped up recording a new LP in Nashville that will hopefully see the light of day later in the year, Beck's appearance at the Santa Barbara Bowl was something of a mystery timing-wise.
Upon entry to the Bowl, all became clear with seeing the posted signs noting that filming would be taking place, as well as the huge boom camera over the pit, and stage camera placements.  Apparently Giovanni Ribisi is helming the project-it will be interesting to see what final form it takes.  During the set, a camera equipped helicopter made the rounds, much to the chagrin of the neighbors.
 The night certainly played out as an event; Beck set off mass delirium in the pit by opening with "Loser", and it was off to the races from there.  After charging through "Black Tambourine", he revealed the reason for this gathering, noting it as having the band from Sea Change back with him for the first time in many years.  They proceeded to essay luminous takes on songs from that LP, the bittersweetness of which fit the spring night at the Bowl perfectly.  Smokey Hormel was present on guitar, and served as a welcome fulcrum for the evening.  Also, Roger Manning and Justin Meldal-Johnsen (pictured above) were on hand, on keyboards and bass, respectively.
As the show progressed, Beck moved throughout his songbook, touching on his most recent, Modern Guilt, and getting a rapturous response for a trio of tracks from Odelay!, "Devil's Haircut", "Where It's At", and "New Pollution".
Capping off the night was "E-Pro", from Guero, that featured his son Cosimo coming out to bust some moves.  The night underscored Beck up to this point, and as always, it will be fascinating to see where he heads next.

(video courtesy of Justin Wagner, who hit the YouTube lottery with Pitchfork picking up this clip, currently over 42K views!)
Opening the evening at the appointed hour, Devendra Banhart strolled onto the stage, plopped down into a chair, and proceeded to weave his spells.  He was joined after one song by his band, and their 'South American meets Laurel Canyon' vibe was the perfect tone setter for the evening, as the Bowl slowly filled up.  He was unfazed by the talkers, and closed the set strongly.  It will be nice to catch him on his own turf at some point.
 Looking forward, Beck also has a new 45 out this week on Jack White's Third Man Records, "I Just Started Hating Some People Today" b/w "Blue Randy".

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