I think I’m in love but I’m getting kinda nervous to say so: Beck at the Fox

2 Jul

This is going to be the best concert summer EVAH!

While my friend at Every Record Tells a Story revels in seeing every great band under the sun in a matter of days at the Glastonbury Festival, I will be able to spread my joy out from June through September right here in Detroit … and stay quite a bit drier. (What is it about rock festivals that attracts precipitation?) Five concerts in ninety days, plus a couple of Major League Baseball games tossed in, has made me Ticketmaster’s best customer. I, as the kids say, am stoked!

The Fox Theatre in all its gaudy glory (Photo by Lois DeBacker)

My concertpalooza kicked off on June 28 with Beck at the Fox Theatre. For the many times I’ve seen shows at the neighboring Fillmore, I had never set foot in the Fox before – and it is a show in itself. Built as a movie palace in the 1920s, it is in full regalia after being fully restored in 1988. Ornate does not begin to describe the interior; even the festooning has been festooned. Everywhere you turn, there’s something to gawk at: vermilion columns on all sides; a gilded elephant’s head at the center of the proscenium; the glass-jeweled chandelier, which weighs a literal ton and looks like Auntie Mame designed it for her Christmas tree. The elevator still requires an elevator operator; the ushers are black-blazered and helpful. Even the bar – with the plastic cups labeled “$7.00 Wine” – seems to be from a more civilized era.

All of which makes it a strange place to see a rock concert … and the perfect place to see Beck.

beck-scratchedBeck is a musical collage artist, assembling samples, riffs, hooks and lyrics from any number of sources and genres like so many pieces of broken colored glass and scuffed bric-a-brac. He may be best known for the nonsense rap of “Loser” and the jokey soul of “Where It’s At,” but as his current album Morning Phase proves, he is just as adept at creating songs that are rich, melodic and moving. No slouch as a musician, he’s a gifted guitarist and solid vocalist and can play a mean harmonica when he wants to. For this tour, Beck surrounded himself with six equally versatile musicians who moved easily from dreamy country & western to electronic beats to total noise.

About 45 minutes after I and my newly anointed concert buddy Lois settled into our seats in the center of the back of the top balcony, an announcement came over the PA that due to unforeseen circumstances, the (unnamed) opening act was not going to be able to appear. I thought this was just a joke, but apparently not. The opener was to have been Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger, fronted by Sean Lennon, and there were problems at the Canadian border.

Beck: blue and blurry from the balcony

Beck: blue and blurry from the balcony

As a result, Beck opened for himself with a 40-minute acoustic set followed by a second act of his up-tempo pop hits: more songs than he’s played at most gigs on this tour. He was good-natured throughout the evening, dancing like no one was watching when the mood struck and playing and sounding great.

I haven’t been to a fully produced rock show in a while, and it was a treat not only to hear such great music performed so well (while sitting down, no less) but also to bask in the incredible lights and video tailored to each song. “Waves,” a somber song from Morning Phase with a chorus of the word, “isolation,” pinned Beck in a spotlight between columns of red light washing up the gold latticework on either side of the proscenium. I had chills.

If you wrote off Beck as a slacker rapper back in the Nineties because of “Loser,” you’re missing out on a lot of great music, no matter what your musical druthers. Here’s just one of many examples for you to enjoy:

See you on the next stop on the concertpalooza tour: Queen + Adam Lambert at the Palace of Auburn Hills on July 12

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7 Responses to “I think I’m in love but I’m getting kinda nervous to say so: Beck at the Fox”

  1. Roy Sexton (Reel Roy Reviews) July 2, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    Fabulous review! I hope one day to see him live. Can’t wait to read what you think about queen and Adam Lambert. I wish we were going to that one. But I’ve spent too much money already on concert tickets this year

    >

    • lpon45 July 2, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

      Thanks, Roy! I am in the same boat as you: if I added up what we invested in tickets this summer, I probably could have covered the mortgage for a month or two …

  2. Pam Houghton July 2, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    I really like Beck. In fact, I have a couple of songs from his latest album on my iPhone. (In addition to some older songs…and a CD or two.) He’s one of those artists that gets better as he “ages” – kind of like the Beatles kept getting better and better, and they were pretty great to begin with. Glad you enjoyed. I always liked the Fox Theater. Have seen a wide variety of shows there!

    • lpon45 July 2, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

      Thanks, Pam. Which songs do you have? If you’re interested I could probably suggest a few others.

  3. Every Record Tells A Story July 2, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Ah, now I am jealous of you – because I dearly want to see Beck and have never done so – 1-0 to LP on 45!
    Thanks for the shout out BTW!

    • lpon45 July 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

      My pleasure to promote your work. (I need to catch up on your Glastonbury posts; it’ll salve the pain of not seeing the acts in person, especially Jack White, whose show here in his hometown sold out in minutes.)

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