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Beck Concert Review
Beck / The Decemberists
Pacific Amphitheater (Orange County Fair)
Costa Mesa, CA

by: John Paulsen

Paulsen Home / Music Home / Entertainment Channel / Entertainment Web Guide

Here are three words for fans leery of attending a Beck show after witnessing his low-energy tour in support of the 2002 album Sea Change: Beck is back. Now touring in support of his new album, the excellent Guero, the singer played a rare show “behind the orange curtain” (that’s how Los Angeles residents refer to Orange County) at the Pacific Ampitheatre in Costa Mesa, California, as part of the Orange County Fair concert series. Sea Change was written about a tough breakup, while Guero was recorded after the singer married and had his first child. As a result, Guero has a drastically different tone than the previous album, and that difference translates onstage.

The Decemberists, a six-piece indie pop ensemble hailing from Portland, Oregon, provided support. Focusing on material from their recently released third album, Picaresque, frontman Colin Maloy anchored the group with his quirky vocals and guitar work. The highlights were the catchy “16 Military Wives” and “The Mariner’s Revenge Song.”

After a fairly long set change, Beck emerged and delved into a 24-song set list, which technically included a medley or two. Oddly, he opened with “Clap Hands,” a song left off of Guero, before moving into two good tracks from the record, “Black Tambourine” and “Girl.” Two of the next three selections were from the 1999 album Midnight Vultures – “Mixed Bizness” and “Nicotine & Gravy.” The highlight of the first half of the set was probably the back-to-back performances of “Que Onda Guero” and “The New Pollution.” After playing his first hit “Loser” and another Vultures song, “Sexx Laws,” Beck went solo for seven of the next eight songs. This series included “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes” (which he recorded for the “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” soundtrack) and three tracks from Sea Change – “Guess I’m Doing Fine,” “Lost Cause” and “The Golden Age.” The band joined him in the middle for a humorous cover of Nelly’s “Hot In Herre” before Beck was alone again for the crowd-favorite “Debra.” Afterwards, he said, “We keep trying to retire that song,” which garnered a chorus of “boos” from the crowd – he continued, “but it just keeps coming back.”

The band rejoined him to close the main set for a rousing rendition of “Where It’s At,” and after taking short break, returned to close the show with the Guero track “E-Pro.” While there was a noticeable lull during the solo section of the show, Beck’s attitude and energy on stage was markedly improved over the dreary mood surrounding his previous tour. He may never return to post-Midnite Vultures form, but for the fans he won in and before that era, Beck is definitely back on track.

Send any questions, comments or wine stories to jpaulsen@bullz-eye.com




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