Published on July 3rd, 2014 | by MacKenzie Warner


Concert Review: Montreal – Beck

Beck is one of those artists that you’d be lucky to see once in your life — MacKenzie Warner’s musical dream comes true in Montreal.

Back in February, I did something impulsive — something so reckless that it can only be compared to the behaviour of a crackhead in search of his or her next fix.  I was frantic, wild-eyed, and ready for change and so I did what any person in my position would do: I bought tickets to see Beck…across the country…in Montreal. I could blame the cabin fever I was experiencing. After all, it was a particularly cold and boring winter. I could say that I had saved up a pile of cash and was just waiting for such an event to spend my hard earned money on. Or maybe my personal motto is ‘throw caution to the wind’ when the wind is especially breezy. But no. I must have been still high from listening to Beck’s new album, ‘Morning Phase’, because I felt drunk off sound through all of February. So when I saw that Beck was going to be in Canada, I overdosed on excitement and bought tickets.

Four long months passed, and then it happened: I was sitting in the auditorium of Places Des Arts vibrating in my seat waiting to see a blonde elf-like dude play tunes from ‘Morning Phase.’ I figured that the days of ‘Loser,’ ‘Devil’s Haircut,’ and ‘Paper Tiger,’ were long gone but I didn’t mind because I loved the new album so much.  I imagined Beck would walk on stage in front of a full orchestra and be as brilliant and melancholic as he was during his ‘Sea Change’ days.  What happened instead was beyond my wildest dreams…

But first! Sean Lennon! The opening band was Sean Lennon’s band The GOASTT (Ghost of a Saber tooth Tiger). In all of my drunken anticipation over Beck, I did not realize that I would also be seeing John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s son perform on stage. Sean Lennon would probably hate me for saying, “Sean Lennon’s band,” because it’s actually a duo consisting of him and his partner, Charlotte Kemp Muhl. Either way, The GOASTT put on a good show and I am compelled to sit down and listen to them more carefully later on. To be honest, though, my mind was not blown by their sound. I think the thing I noticed most was how like his Dad he sounded.

Then it was Beck’s turn. There was no orchestra, no soft lighting. Instead, he walked on stage and strummed four little notes that launched my initial interest in music. It was the four notes that kick off ‘Devil’s Haircut.’ I thought of my younger brother, Max — then four or five years old — dancing shirtless in our living room while playing air guitar like his life depended on it. I was probably doing the same thing but with less charm and coordination.

After Beck finished his opening song, I figured he would slip into all of his new stuff. After all, it’s always good to start with a favourite to butter up the audience for the evening’s set list. To my utter shock, however, Beck continued with his hits, playing ‘Loser,’ ‘Where It’s At,’ ‘Que Onda Guero,’ and my personal favourite, ‘Debra.’ Any fan of Beck’s music knows that each album has its own distinct style, so it was especially impressive to see him effortlessly rap a gritty tune off of Guero and then switch to crooning a country blues song from ‘Sea Change’. He’s like a chameleon. If you stumbled into the show, left, and then came back five minutes later, I’m sure you would think that you were at a wholly different concert. That’s the beauty of Beck’s music. Or maybe the beauty lies in the fact that he makes everything, in any style, sound so goddamn cool.

Beck also played many songs from Morning Phase so I was not disappointed. It would have been great to see an entire orchestra play with him, but it didn’t matter in the end. I realize now that his show was a taste of his 25 plus year career in one night.  Knowing that, I could not be been more grateful. Standing in a beautiful theatre in Montreal listening to Beck play my life’s soundtrack was a dream come true. So maybe I’m like a crackhead for spending way too much money, time, and energy to see Beck. But that high is so good. I may go back for seconds.

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spends her time writing, drawing, or, more likely, watching movies (when she’s not asking friends and strangers inappropriate questions).

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