Review by Bokonon
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Beck rhymes with Bowie, hell yes.
Throughout Beck’s epic Tuesday night romp at MASS MoCA, I couldn’t get David Bowie out of my head.
The Thin White Duke’s effortless appropriation. Pinching Donovan’s 12-string waif, pulling Lou Reed’s New York street cred, borrowing Stevie Wonder’s soul and Stevie Ray’s blues. But put through the Bowie blender, it all became sexy, exotic and wild.
Beck, too. And not just because he interpolated Donna Summer into “Think I’m in Love.”
At Joe’s Field, the beauty of Beck was in full flower. MASS MoCA is all about seeing how the now is informed by the then. Beck did it every second. Sonny Terry for the masses, sure!
Beck. Bowie. Chameleons. When Beck blew ugly old harp in “One Foot in the Grave” it looped the Mississippi into the Housatonic.
Kraftwerk. Big Bill Broonzy. James Brown. Gregg Allman. Ornette Coleman. Stuff. Fred Neil. Cold Blood. It’s all in there.
Hansen had his Sea Change band with him in North Adams, so he leaned into that with “Paper Tiger” and “The Golden Age,” but he also has a new rekkid, Morning Phase, so he hit that, too, with “Heart Is a Drum,” “Waking Light” and the haunting “Blackbird Chain.”
Prince. Ted Nugent. Brook Benton. Mission of Burma. Snoop Dogg. Swamp Dogg.
If you look at the old Bowie videos, the one where the bass player looks like a gnome, you see Mr. Jones at the crux, strumming an acoustic guitar while singing songs about aliens, channeling sprites while chiming about space travel.
Jump cut to Tuesday night, with Beck wearing a preacher’s black hat while aping falsetto Quiet Storm grooves. Beck boasting, “I want to rap,” after riffing fire sale Neil Young. Beck. Bowie. Same thing. Same damn thing, Same beautiful thing.
BECK SET LIST
Novacane > One Foot in the Grave
I Think I’m in Love > I Feel Love (Donna Summer)
The Golden Age
Que Onda Guero
The New Pollution
Heart Is a Drum
Where It’s At