Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Beck thrills in Vancouver

From left, guitarist Jason Falkner, Beck and bass
player Dwayne Moore. Photo: Robert Kinsler
Just hours after officially releasing details about his much-anticipated new album Colors (due Oct. 13, 2017), Beck headlined in front of a pumped-up capacity crowd at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver BC, Canada on Thursday night, Aug. 24, 2017. His performance included a mix of his groundbreaking early-career hits (including his upbeat opener "Devil's Haircut," an extended sing-along of his breakthrough single "Loser" and explosively funky "Sexx Laws"), Americana- and atmospheric gems from the 2002 masterwork Sea Change and his 2014 multi-Grammy winner Morning Phase, and genre-defying material touching on soul, blues, hip-hop, folk, electronica and more.

Beck blowing the blues harmonica
on  the crowd-pleasing "One Foot in the
Grave" in Vancouver on Aug. 24, 2017.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
With an artistic spirit that somehow drew comparisons with the ambitious likes of Neil Young, David Bowie and Thom Yorke, loads of charisma to be sure and a freewheeling sound all his own, Beck upped his game with each moment. The fact he was backed by a musical ensemble as strong as any in rock (notably longtime allies keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning Jr. and guitarist Jason Falkner, both of Jellyfish fame) didn't hurt either. New members Dwayne Moore (bass) and Chris Coleman (drums) provided a solid rhythm section throughout the wide range of material. And the artistic visuals projected on the screen really enhanced each song.

I've reviewed Beck on previous occasions and have always been impressed. But I have to say his show in Canada was the strongest performance by the artist I've ever seen. If you have tickets to see U2's string of upcoming dates in the U.S. (beginning Sept. 3 in Detroit and extending through Sept. 22 in San Diego), make sure to get there early since Beck is opening all those concerts.

It has taken a few times seeing Beck for this writer to finally and fully get while the artist's shows are so unique. Like the albums the Los Angeles native has released across his 20+ year career, each song Beck delivers in concert is dramatically different from the song that precedes or follows. The sum of those brilliant and far-flung musical parts makes for a wonderful explosion best experienced in the concert setting.

I've embedded a few videos below from Beck's performance in Vancouver to help showcase the power of his performance. The tracks highlighted are versions of his recent single "Wow" (one of the tracks set to be included on Colors), "The New Pollution" (a cut off his celebrated 1996 album Odelay); finally, prepare to have your mind blown via the haunting "Wave" off Beck's album Morning Phase.

Robert Kinsler

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