GOING BACK TO HOUSTON, TO GET ME SOME PANTS
by Molly Lambert
I was lucky enough to go to the surprise last-minute Beck show at the Echoplex. It sold out in under a minute but my friend Lizzy managed to get tickets. I’d never seen him before, and given my lukewarm feelings about his last couple of albums (and uh, Scientology) I would say my expectations were very low. So I was more than pleasantly surprised to have my face rocked off by a Beck Hansen who seemed and sounded reinvigorated.
His adorable tow-headed children ran around the stage shaking percussion instruments for the hour before the band came on. Beck’s garb was fairly LOTHRian. Still, he didn’t look too freak-folkish, probably because he can’t grow a beard. But his hair is long, he wore a Gandalf hat, a string of pearls, and a flannel jacket thing that tied with a ribbon. The name I’ve coined for this style of fashion is “Gay Neil Young.”
Duane Allman aka “Skydog”
Neil Young’s eidolon flowed freely throughout the night, as did John Fogerty’s. I have a post on deck about all the Nu Southern Rock bands, but I didn’t necessarily expect to hear the spirit of Skydog channeled through fellow blond soul brother Beck. Nigel Godrich manned the ones and twos and melodica but it was not a glitchy set at all. It was full-on HARD RAWK, more ZZ Top than Tom Zé. Lots of songs from Mellow Gold and Odelay. Nothing from Midnite Vultures or Mutations. Reworked versions of songs from Sea Change, Guero, and The Information.
Darlin’ don’t u go and cut ur devil’s haircut
They opened with Devil’s Haircut and proceeded to rip through Nausea, Loser, Mutherfuker, and Jackass without breaking a sweat. The newer songs still felt a little limp compared to the older hits, which have aged as well as Beck who is, like Thurston Moore and Michael Cera, eternally teenage. The interplay between the band was wonderful, and they really seemed to be enjoying playing. Beck said they’d only been practicing for four days and the musicians riffed off one another like a phenomenal bar band. There were a lot of peak jams and solos during the night.
Other highlights were a choogling Think I’m In Love, a Bleach-like version of Minus, and Paper Tiger as a chiled out raga. They ended with E-Pro, which turned into one of many Slow Ride psychedelic guitar jam seshes. The techs came onstage and started untaping the effects pedals from the floor when Beck came out from backstage and waved to say “No no, tape them back down.” They played a great Lord Only Knows, finally ran out of songs they’d practiced and closed with Lost Cause. The audience was in a coma of bliss. I’m sorry you couldn’t have come too.
One more Saturday night!
I am kind of a Scully, which is to say skeptical about most things. But there’s nothing I love more in this world than being pleasantly surprised. So thank you Beck, for surprising and inspiring me with your total awesomeness. I feel shameful for having doubted you. Even sans the splits and minus the body thetans, you are still the consummate musician, artist and performer I wanted you to be.
Peter Walker plays beautiful fingerpicked folk and directed the Timothy Leary film ‘Celebrations’. I imagine Beck is a fan of Walker’s album Rainy Day Raga. These songs are definitely in Sea Change’s umbra.
Norweigan Wood – Peter Walker: mp3
White Wind – Peter Walker: mp3
Rainy Day Raga – Peter Walker: mp3
LINKS TO KEEP YOUR HANDS BUSY
Janet Reno is crushing on Devendra Banhardt.
Cave Mollys prefer larger males.
Free Rice is way fun for dictionary dorks like me and awesome for starving people.
I heard on the radio today from a friend of T.I. that the under-house arrest Tip is “heavy on the iChat these days.”
Molly Lambert is senior editor of This Recording.
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