Last night’s gig at the Palais Theatre wasn’t just a personal journey through the career and life of Beck, but an insight into his theatrical and somewhat impulsive mind.
As I trekked through the thick smoke that hit me well before I even got to my seat at the Palais Theatre, it soon became clear that Beck’s music was just one exquisite element of his performance.
It had been a “million years” since he was last in Melbourne, and the US singer-songwriter graced the stage like a man who had been there just last night. His casual and informal persona was instantly captivating, as he entertained the audience with his stories and witty anecdotes about being in Melbourne. “This is my first show in a while. I don’t remember my own songs,” he teased. “What am I meant to do up here?”
In fact, if you had attended the show only wanting to hear Beck’s songs, you might’ve started to get mildly frustrated; regular chats with the audience permeated the occasion, and it felt like anyone’s guess when we should expect the next track.
By the end of the night, though, everyone had definitely gotten their fill of Beck’s beautiful music.
What’s famously fun about Beck’s musical style is how he traverses such a diverse range of genres. Last night relied on predominantly acoustic sources, which meant the show became a largely folk showcase.
That’s not to say his range was no longer evident, but it certainly chose to highlight the songwriting person behind the awards and acclaim and not just display his impressive collection of hits.
The overall set and lighting design supported this notion. Instead of becoming its own mesmerising spectacle, the choices simply set the tone for each number and acted in a practical manner.
What people weren’t expecting last night was the debut of a brand new Beck single. I should probably elaborate: with the world in a panic as to whether AI is attempting to steal our jobs and homes, Beck has been curious as to whether it could start writing his own songs.
An equally comical and impressive ‘track’, Beck tried out his new lyrics to varying success. Depending on whether you were taken in by Beck’s sense of humour, this was either your favourite or least-favourite part of the evening. Regardless, I can confidently say: AI still has a long way to go.
As the evening went on, the banter became less frequent, with Beck instead able to demonstrate his undeniable music mastery. He was later joined by Shawn Supra and Shane Reilly who blended seamlessly into the folky atmosphere.
After performing his 2023 track “Thinking About You”, Beck, Supra and Reilly disappeared off to the sides. Beck’s generous encore then had the crowd singing and applauding throughout the entire five songs. Even after the trio properly left the stage, the pumped-up audience kept hollering and chanting in an attempt to get him back.
The evening was a testament to Beck’s dashing charisma and unfading talent. Sure, it may have been a while since his last performance, but his stage command clearly never went anywhere.
Beck now heads to Sydney to play at the Darling Harbour Theatre on April 6th, before an appearance at Bluesfest the following day (more information here).