Sunday, October 22, 2006

Beck @Loew's Theater, Oct. 21st

Last night returned to the Loew's Theater in Jersey City (the first time being for Yo La Tengo less than a month ago). This time met up with Shana and Andrea, and it was particularly exciting. Why? Cos my ticket karma resulted in three front row seats in the orchestra! Yeah, baby!

We heard the opening chords of "Loser" and got up on our feet. The band wasn't on stage yet, however. There was a mini stage set up at the rear of the actual stage, with marionette puppets that looked like each member of the band, down to the exact outfits. Kinda hokey, but fun in that "Being John Malkovich" kind of way. They projected what the puppets were mimicking onto a large screen at the rear of the main stage so that the audience far back had something to see, I guess. Okay, that's enough about the puppets.

Beck was particularly efficient, taking little time in between songs, and diving one song into the next. He focused on the new album, The Information, but pulled out a few from the catalogue, including a favorite of mine, "Tropicalia" from the underappreciated Mutations:

The band got us on our feet dancing and the music was good, but I don't think it really grabbed us until what I call the salad interlude. A table with food and serving implements was set up on stage, and the band sat and had a bite while Beck played solo next to them on acoustic guitar. We were so close that Shana commented she could smell the salad! Beck took us through a few tunes, including a beautiful version of "Debra":

He next played "Golden Age" from Sea Change and then dove into "Clap Hands" from the new album. At that point the crew was done with their meal, so they joined in the song, creating percussion using the plates, glasses, silverware and other items on the table. Brilliant!

Beck really put an effort into making the show more than a mere performance. With the puppets and the Stomp-esque musical interlude, that would have been plenty. While the band took a break off stage, they played a short clip on the screen of the Puppets running around Jersey City. Hysterical. And, after the intermission, we got two bears running around stage singing "1000 BPM"!

For the encore Beck pulled the old favorite "Where It's At" which got the crowd back on its feet. Then for the last song, the puppet broke free of the mini stage and joined their counterparts.

Aside from the fact that we sat front row(!), I have to say, Beck puts on a mighty fun show, his Scientologist leanings notwithstanding. I will sit front row for him any old time!

PS -- The one bad thing about front row was that one of Beck's stage people was a total Nazi about photos, even hassling some guy for taking cell phone pics. So I consider it a great victory that I was able to shoot anything, especially the videos of the songs with assistance from Shana who leaned forward. :-)

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