ODELAY! THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO BECK: For those fans of Beck who didn't make it up to the Celebrity Ballroom in Phoenix for last Thursday's all-ages show, you may have spared yourself a major disappointment. The show came off as a calculated study in How To Be Entertaining, and left this fan feeling as though she'd just witnessed a dress rehearsal for the Grammies. Perhaps success is the mother of contrivance, and we should bid sad farewell as our dear waif goes the way of R.E.M. and U2. Chalk it up to the nature of the beast if you must, but I can recall a mainstage Lalaforloosers performance in '94 by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds that proved artistic integrity can find its way around a big stage without leaning on a crutch of shtick.
The opening band, Sukia, an ambient/techno ensemble, could be fairly well described from a musical standpoint as Kraftwerk minus the Weltschmerz. The name suggests something vaguely Japanese, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sukia is about as Japanese as the Bordoms are boring, and matching outfits with black Stetsons and dragster flame-motif cowboy shirts only added to the vaguely Jackson 5 flavor, in some respects making Sukia the perfect precursor to Beck's set.
Intermission was filled with the sounds of Superfly, during which the audience, primarily down-dressed, scrawny-assed white boys well under 25 (a demographic I am sure would love to see Beck elevated to the status of sex symbol), wandered to and fro in aimless mallrat fashion with no tangible sense of anticipation.
"Odelay" was the battle cry of the evening, and, following his band to the stage after a dramatic pause and Barnum-&-Bailey-style introduction, Beck, clad in entirely in rumpled Travolta white, jumped right into the thick with "Devil's Haircut." My faith was first shaken when, beneath the dazzling, giant disco ball, Beck fucked up, flinchingly missing a cue while his vocals mysteriously forged ahead. Like "gameshow suckers," most of the crowd quickly forgave the faux pas, distracted by the excitement of Beck's constant, rousing references to Phoenix...Yes, the lighters were raised during several numbers, as Beck solicited sing-alongs from separate sections of the audience, playing one group off of the other in grand style.
All seven members of his supporting band were obviously accomplished musicians--the "two turntables" were tops in the encore--but through the two "funk" sets one was often hard pressed to distinguish the actual from the pre-recorded music. He performed not so much interpretations of as embellishments on the majority of tracks on Odelay, giving best service to "Lord Only Knows" and "Minus." Beck frequently conjured the image of a gospel minister touched by the Lawd, preaching to his congregation while ripping off Prince ripping off James Brown, and smacking smartly of K.C. and the Sunshine Band and Thriller-era Michael Jackson. My Gen X adolescence flashed before my eyes like a flip book of fuzzy Polaroids. To his credit, however, Beck's energy was incredible; he rapped, did a fair amount of breakdancing, played some slammin' guitar and worked the crowd like a Vegas understudy.
In the midst of all this leatherette funk, however, Beck paused to deliver a solo set of folk rock that was the evening's diamond in the rough. Breaking out the acoustic guitar and harp-in-a-rack of days of yore, Beck reaffirmed his versatility and virtuosity with refreshing candor. Displaying a vocal muster that could give the late, great Cobain a run for his money, Beck ripped out songs like "Asshole," and I really wanted to believe all the rest was tongue-in-cheek genius, not just a cheap shot. Rejoined by his band, Beck quelled an impatient, unapprised audience with promises to "get back to the funk after one more power ballad," namely a stirring version of "Jack Ass." And funk he did, ending the evening with an encore costume change--to rhinestone-studded, fringed white western wear--and a great big version of "High 5."
To sum it up in a sentence: An unfortunate Velveeta rendering of a brilliant album by an otherwise gifted and captivating performer...but then Beck's talent was never in question.
HOT TICKET: Blackmoon Graffiti, C Spot Groove and the Isty Bitsy Spiders in association with Sun Bow Entertainment (the production company for The Tick) converge Friday, February 28, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., in an effort to save that big blue Saturday morning cult superhero, The Tick. The Tick and his side-kick Arthur, with the help of American Maid, the Sewer Urchin, Die Fledermaus and others, battled evil on the Fox network every Saturday morning until last November. Big wigs somewhere decided The Tick was too mature for younger viewers and not appropriate for a prime slot, selling the series to cable station Comedy Central, currently unavailable in Tucson. Devotees of the series can show their support by arriving at the show in costume for a $2 discount at the door. The best costume wins an authentic Tick prize autographed by Tick creator Ben Edlund. There will also be prizes for the Best "Spoooon!" Battle Cry and Best Re-enactment of a Tick Cartoon Scene. Throughout this evening of great music and entertainment, episodes of The Tick will play on the big screen in the club and a petition for the return of The Tick will be distributed. The music starts around 9:30 p.m. Cover is $3 with costume, $5 without. Call 622-8848 for more information.
LAST NOTES: Trailer Park Mark and the Wheels, The Simpletons and Forklift play for free on Fourth Avenue's Winsett Park Stage from 2 to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 1.
Witness the return of the "Meat Puppet Show" as part of a variety show hosted by trio Phonoroyale on Saturday, March 1, at the Airport Lounge, 20 E. Pennington St. Stand-up comic Chris Wassel, fire eaters and other tantalizing entertainment is planned. Cover is a measly $3. Call 882-0040 for more information.
The award-winning a cappella Concordia Choir, with conductor and composer Rene Clausen, performs sacred choral music of the Renaissance through the 20th century on Tuesday, March 4, at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 1949 E. Helen St. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance are $10 for adults, $6 for students and $12 the day of the event. Call 327-6521 for more information.
Rialto Cabaret Update: Despite what you may have heard, all performances scheduled at the Rialto Cabaret, 201 E. Broadway, will continue as scheduled, with two small exceptions: No alcohol will be served and all ages will be welcome. See related article in Currents for more information. San Francisco seven-piece Indigo Swing helps out with local artists the Blues Hats celebrating the release of their new CD, Funja, on Friday, February 28. The show starts around 9 p.m., tickets are $5, with a dollar off for Friends of the Rialto and TBS members. The following night, March 1, the Paladins return with their big-ass sound and bad-ass merchandise. This show is $5 at the door. Call 795-1420 for information.
Home | Currents | City Week | Music | Review | Cinema | Back Page | Forums | Search
| © 1995-97 Tucson Weekly . Info Booth