The chameleonic Californian ran through almost 40 songs in a hit-packed set at a sweltering O2 Academy Brixton ahead of his Irish date as part of the Trinity Summer Series.
Nobody could ever accuse Beck of half-assing it. On a sweltering night in Brixton, London, the chameleonic Californian rattles through just shy of 40 songs in approximately two hours, strutting and shaking around the stage in leathers for half of it. Not bad for a so-called slacker.
Lamenting the delay that pushed tonight’s events back by two years and the five years since his previous visit to the UK, Beck seems to be making up for lost time, barely pausing to chat and storming through a hit-packed set like he’s trying to break a record.
He’s barely graced the stage before ‘Devil’s Haircut’ is unleashed to a rapturous response. That gives way to a supremely funky one-two of ‘Dreams’ and ‘Colors’ from 2017’s Colors. It’s disarming how easily he slips from slacker rock to full-on pop star.
What’s maybe most surprising is how heavily the set leans on 2005’s underrated Guero, which gets seven of its 15 tracks on the list, suggesting Beck himself knows it deserves a share of the reverence reserved for Mellow Gold and Odelay. Chief among the highlights is a riveting version of ‘Que’ Onda Guero’.
Beck’s also completely unafraid to puncture the party atmosphere with some of his more melancholic work. After winding up the first set with a cathartic version of another Guero fave ‘E-Pro’, he returns unaccompanied for heart-rending versions of ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes’, the Daniel Johnston song ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’ and a lovely new song ‘Thinking About You’. The band rejoins him for a stirring rendition of ‘The Golden Age’ from Sea Change before abruptly changing lanes and launching into ‘Loser’. Four thousand, nine hundred people promptly lose their minds.
The party seems to peak with ‘Where It’s At’, the perfect place for any party to peak, but Beck’s still not done. The house lights are on, people are heading for the loos at pace, when he’s back again for one last song, sending the crowd out into the still sweltering night with fan favourite ‘One Foot In The Grave’. After two hours of basking in Beck’s brilliance, both feet feel very much in the land of the living.
Beck plays Trinity College Dublin on 3 July. Get tickets here.