I was lucky enough to see Beck when he rolled through Raleigh two weeks ago on his tour supporting his latest album, Morning Phase. I’d never seen him live before, so I was pretty excited. Of course, my only fear was that the show would end up being an all-acoustic set or something considering that Morning Phase is sort of like the spiritual sequel to 2002’s Sea Change. Both the albums are great, but when I’m seeing Beck for the first time, I want to see Beck. Thankfully, he did not disappoint.
For the Beck show, the Red Hat Amphitheater in downtown Raleigh was set up with a large general admission pit. If I recall correctly, the seats and the general admission section were all priced the same, so I opted for general admission, wanting to get as close as possible. I got to the venue early enough to end up around third row if there had been seats.
Soon enough, I was greeted with the opening act, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. They were pretty good and I’ve made a promise to myself to check them out on iTunes. However, it wasn’t until I heard other audience members say they recognized the lead singer that I took a closer look at him. Holy crap—it was Sean Lennon! With his long hair and beard, he looked different from the last time I’d seen a press photo, but it was clearly him. His songs had John Lennon written all over them, from Sean’s vocals to the inventive melodies. Also, the entire band had that late 60s/early 70s John Lennon look to it with long locks and beards, except for bassist and co-founder Charlotte Kemp Muhl—she only had the long locks. They were an interesting group and I really enjoyed their set. Lennon carries himself very well with nary a hint of entitlement. If I hadn’t been so close—or looked the band up on my phone—I never would have suspected he was rock royalty.
However, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger was only the appetizer and it was time to get funky with Beck. Any fears I had of a quiet acoustic set were obliterated with the first three songs he played. Beck and his band got the party started with Odelay’s “Devil’s Haircut,” rolled into Guero’s “Black Tambourine”—a personal favorite—and finished the opening trio with “The New Pollution,” one of his bigger hits. It was a fantastic start to the show. Since this was a tour supporting Morning Phase and his touring band worked on both that album and Sea Change, there was a nice selection of those songs—of the twenty-two Beck played, seven were from Morning Phase and Sea Change, including the magnificent “Blue Moon” off the new album. Other than that, it was a nice mix of Beck’s better-known songs with most coming off of Odelay and Guero. He managed to get his first hit, “Loser,” in there as well as “Sexx Laws” and his anthem, “Where It’s At,” as the closer.
Beck kept up a good rapport with the crowd, commenting frequently on the North Carolina heat. Mostly though, he just rocked the joint. As a longtime fan, there were obviously some tracks I would have liked to have heard and didn’t, but he played most of my favorites, so it was tough to complain. Overall, it was a good show and that’s all you can really ask for. Check out Beck if he’s coming to your area this summer. It’s where it’s at.
The New Pollution
Que Onda Guero
Think I’m In Love
Heart Is A Drum
Where It’s At