By DAN MACINTOSH
Beck is an artist with many different sides, which makes him complicated to categorize.
Of course, he performed his fun radio hits, “Loser” and “Where It’s At,” toward the end of his extended performance at the mini-Hollywood Bowl, The Ford. However, he opened the night acoustically, which included a few of his Nick Drake-sad acoustic songs, such as “Lost Cause” and “Guess I’m Doing Fine.” Sometimes he wants to party, while other times he just wants to cry. On this night, he did a little of each.
Beck reaches new heights at The Ford – Photo by @MeandmyPup
Beck announced at the outset how this was his first band-led performance since the beginning of the pandemic. He was a little rusty in places, but not enough for it to be a distraction. When he’s standing alone, with just his acoustic guitar and harmonica, he’s like a latter-day Neil Young. Then when he’s fronting his band and whipping off his jacket while dancing, he’s a little bit Prince or James Brown. Both personas are authentically Beck because he obviously invests so much of his passion into each style.
At one point, he told the audience how a friend complained that he no longer writes funny songs. That may be somewhat true, but his recent separation and divorce after a long-term marriage just doesn’t lend itself to writing about having a devil’s haircut.
However, his soulful “Debra,” which featured Beck applying an enjoyable vocal falsetto, was delivered with tangible irony as he described meeting with a girl, he thought was named Debra, for a middle-class dinner date in Glendale while traveling in style in his Hyundai.
Beck at The Ford – Courtesy @meandmypup
Beck was in awe of The Ford’s unique stage, where backstage includes a stone staircase leading to the top of a palm tree lined Hollywood hill. During his encore, he even walked to the top of one hill and sang “One Foot in the Grave” while standing far above the rest of his band. He may be more serious of late, but he hasn’t forgotten how to have fun.
Whether you came to cry in your beer or dance yourself clean, Beck created the appropriate soundtrack for each of these distinct moods. The setlist added up to a fully satisfying Beck concert, a show which felt like a Saturday evening out, even thought it was a school night.
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