Beck makes Vancouver go ‘Wow’

Beck @ The Orpheum Theatre 24/8/17

Beck in Vancouver
Photo by Ryan Johnson

“I feel something in the air—there’s a place I’d like to take you all with me”, said Beck to the sold-out audience at the Orpheum Theatre last Thursday (Aug 24). The man is really, really something. As if there could ever be any doubt, the now veteran performer gave Vancouver one hell of a show, oozing rock essence everywhere he stood. Wearing a black wide-brimmed hat and a dark jacket over a navy print collared shirt, Beck took the stage with retro dance moves and arm waving galore—very obviously having as much of a killer time as the audience. Starting up the evening with his 1996 album Odelay’s “Devil’s Haircut”, Beck seemed to promise a night of classics and wicked moments with a backup band that could more than keep up with the blonde frontman.

The 47-year-old (if you can believe that; it’s like he found the fountain of youth) has always been a musical Heinz 57, tackling hip hop, psychedelic rock, folk, country and soul with equal vigour and genius. Beck’s show last week really showed that musical spectrum in action from rapping in “Que Onda Guero” to the rock anthem elements of “Go It Alone” and “E-Pro”, to the obscure digital sounding “Wow”. His early 90s hit “Loser” is still an earworm and a half, drawing some major love from the audience and ultra enthusiastic singalongs. Beck’s upcoming album Colors offers a lot to be excited for, particularly the vibrant, pure catchiness of “Dreams”, which has been around for a few years as a single and has already garnered much critical acclaim. Frankly, it’s easily one of Beck’s best, falling somewhere between retro and futuristic. Weird but intriguing single “Wow” has Beck very much experimenting, at times seemingly trying to hone a Dadaist vibe.

Beck
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Beck switched into a white wide-brimmed hat and white blazer for the encore, dipping into “Where It’s At” and a band intro that including solos to great hits of the past like Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”. Prolific session player Jason Faulkner is the kind of guitarist you would expect Beck to tour with. If it were possible to steal the show from Beck, Faulkner would have done it—he was all charm, hilarity, talent and pizzazz, bantering and laughing with the audience. “It’s like Woody Guthrie stopped by a Kraftwerk studio,” said Beck, accurately, of Faulkner.

Beck’s harmonica playing in “One Foot in the Grave” really was a thrill to watch—and it was great seeing him go at it alone, especially with a country song. “I feel like summer’s winding down, but there’s still life left in it!” said Beck, breaking into “Where It’s At” once more. The audience didn’t want him to leave; there never seems to be enough Beck to go around.

Beck in Vancouver
Photo by Ryan Johnson