Austin City Limits Taping – Beck

Beck - Austin City Limits TapingBeck taped a broadcast for Austin City Limits on this past Sunday night. Terry Lickona’s typical pre-show intro included a reminder that Austin City Limits celebrates its 40th year this year. They’re doing some special shows for the Fall that include past performers. They taped the first performances last week with Willie Nelson (the show’s first performer) and also Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s backing band.

It’s been a while since I paid very much attention to Beck. I’m glad he’s still out there cranking out music. He’s certainly proven that he’s got the longevity. I remember really cursing that I had moved to NYC during SXSW in 1994 when he played a well received set. That was also the year that Johnny Cash played Emo’s. I picked up Odelay as I moved back in 1995. Since then, the only other Beck album I’d purchased was Midnite Vultures. That’s the one that I (and I’m sure others) like to refer to as Beck’s “Prince Album”. His latest, Morning Phase, is said to be more similar to 2002’s Sea Change which appears to be pretty well regarded and I completely missed it at the time. Judging from the songs from Morning Phase that he played for the taping, it’s definitely an acoustic 70’s pop radio feel. I loved this show because it reminded me of some great radio hits that I’d forgotten and introduced me to some new songs along with songs that I had missed. “Think I’m In Love” from 2006’s The Information is super catchy. I feel like I must’ve heard it before, but even if I didn’t, the first listen had me hooked. I tend to enjoy his more groove-related stuff, but I did find “Blackbird Change” from Morning Phase sticking with me after the taping.

The band included guitar, bass, two keyboard/multi-instrumentalists and a drummer, Joey Waronker, with a kit to rival Neal Peart. The drum sound was amazing, particularly the tom toms. During their set (list included below courtesy of Leslie from ACL’s twitter feed), Beck called an audible and decided to do all of the acoustic numbers in the middle. This required a bit of a shuffle for the ACL crew. They also ended up re-doing three of the acoustic songs at the end. Their first stage exit after “E-Pro” was amusing. They all fell down to the ground with their instruments feeding back and then eventually crawled their way, snake-like offstage. I’m hoping they include that in the broadcast. It was likely more amusing for those of us watching from the balcony since we could see what they were up to. To the people on the floor, it probably looked like they had disappeared. I missed “New Pollution” and really could’ve done without “Loser”. It’s one of those songs that’s so overplayed, I probably would’nt mind if I never heard it again. I think it was the most lackluster performance of the entire set.

I mentioned in my review of the Fun. taping that the ACL staff has become much more militant about cell phones during the taping. This is understandable, but they must really have had problems over the past year. I typically use my phone to take a few notes for my reviews. I turn the brightness down to the lowest setting and hold the phone down between my knees to minimize distraction. It’s never been a problem, but this time, an usher tapped me on the shoulder and gestured that he was going to throw me out if I didn’t put the phone away. It seems a little overly militant to me though. I guess I’ll be bringing a notepad and pen from now on and kick it old school reporter-like.

Beck plays the Austin City Limits Festival this year and the episode that was taped this past week will air in October.

Set List:

  1. Devil’s Haircut (Odelay)
  2. Black Tambourine (Guero)
  3. Think I’m in Love (The Information)
  4. Golden Age (Sea Change)
  5. Blackbird Chain (Morning Phase)
  6. Don’t Let it Go (Morning Phase)
  7. Country Down (Morning Phase)
  8. Lost Cause (Sea Change)
  9. Sissyneck (Odelay)
  10. Soldier Jane (The Information)
  11. Blue Moon (Morning Phase)
  12. Dead Melodies (Mutations)
  13. Say Goodbye (Morning Phase)
  14. Waking Light (Morning Phase)
  15. Soul of a Man (Modern Guilt)
  16. Loser (Mellow Gold)
  17. Girl (Guero)
  18. E-Pro (Guero)
  19. Where It’s At (Odelay)

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