KCRW’s Berkeley Street Sessions at Apogee Studios
Santa Monica, California
April 18, 2014
“Wow, they really packed you guys in here like sardines!”
It took no time at all for Beck Hansen to start joking with the 200-person audience all shoulder to shoulder within the warm confines of Apogee Studios.
“All the tall people in the front? Yeah, that’s when you know that this is going to be a real show.”
At his only scheduled Los Angeles performance, as well as his first radio appearance in support of the breathtakingly beautiful Morning Phase (which came out earlier this year), Hansen seemed calm, confident and candid.
For his official Morning Becomes Eclectic set which consisted of two-thirds new material–including tracks that Beck himself said had only been played a handful of times before last night–the LA native kicked things off with Sea Change‘s “The Golden Age.” Crowd chatter instantly evaporated, leaving only the melodic and serene sound of Hansen and his five-piece band.
As Hansen sang “Let the desert wind cool your aching head” it was hard not to notice that his voice might have succumb a little bit to the Coachella dust storm of the past weekend. Instead of being turned off by the imperfections, the small crowd was reminded of the pleasures and the unique moments that only come from live music. Hansen himself noticed his vocal struggles, asking for more vocals in his earpiece (“I think I might have messed that one up!”), but that was the last time that evening that we heard anything as close to a minute crack in his inimitable voice.
The group which was adorably divided by their leader into three groups of mustaches, hats and hair, brilliantly ran through several Morning Phase tracks including “Country Down,” “Waking Light,” “Blackbird Chain” and “Blue Moon.” Their interaction between numbers reminded you that Hansen has been working with most of these gentleman for several years–any Beck fan who has attended a show within the last decade was sure to recognize Justin Meldal-Johnsen who was introduced by Hansen as playing bass, keys, vocals…and cocktails.
In his conversation with Jason Bentley, Beck spoke thoughtfully about how he has systematically released new music within different avenues (12-inches, Song Reader sheet music, Beck’s Record Club, stand alone singles) since his last full length: 2008’s Modern Guilt. “I’ve always wanted to just release songs in between albums, which I could finally do, but I think that albums will still be around for a while, because there is a certain power in committing to a certain kind of song.” Even within an event where Beck was showcasing one of his more stripped down LPs, his excitement for innovation and musical technology was palpable. “There are no rules anymore and that’s exciting.”
After his second set of Morning Phase tracks, Beck was ready to let loose.
“This isn’t being broadcasted live, so I guess we can just hang out together!”
While he didn’t play “Loser” (which, he joked earlier, is always in the contract he signs when he performs anywhere) Beck’s nine-song encore included covers (“Billie Jean,” “I Feel Love”) as well as old hits spanning from his unmatched genre-bending career. The native Angelino’s energy and animation brought the audience to life with laughter, hand claps and sing-a-longs. It was the perfect time for Beck to make his pitch: “We’re available for Bar Mitzvahs, christenings, weddings and funerals.”
I can’t imagine anyone in that room who wouldn’t book them after that audition. F
Beck’s 4/16/14 Set List
The Golden Age
Don’t Let It Go
Think I’m in Love -> I Feel Love
Soul of a Man
Sissyneck (mid-song/Billie Jean interlude)
Taken from FILTER Magazine. Published April 17, 2014.