I see Newt called me out on my thoughts a few posts ago about the recent warm-up gig at the Echoplex, since I’m in LA and was there. Sorry for taking so long to get this up, but better late than never, right?
The exciting thing about the show was the new band: Beck’s usual crew (Wounded Cougar) was mostly otherwise committed, and in Beck’s zeal to go to South America and open for The Police, he had to get a new band together. Justin Meldal-Johnsen, the longtime music director/bad-ass bassist/Leatherman, was there. Beck’s drummer from 1994-2000 (and sporadically since), Joey Waronker, was back again. Joey and JMJ are amazing together. Guitar was played by Jason Falkner, who played on Sea Change and Info, and was in Jellyfish with Roger Joseph Manning Jr. And finally keyboards/effects/tambourine was provided by none other than Nigel Godrich, producer of Mutations, Sea Change and Info (and the 6th member of Radiohead).
Apparently, the band had only rehearsed three or four times. The setlist, posted below, was all the songs they knew together (tho I’m postive JMJ and Joey could play anything; not so sure the other guys–including Beck). The songs after “E-Pro” were not on the setlist, and were spontaneous encore additions.
The music was relatively heavy-sounding, not quite as subtle or diverse as usual Beck concerts. The band’s chemistry and tightness was good, but nowhere near as strong as Wounded Cougar–who had been Beck’s touring (and studio) band for a number of years and become quite impressive. But it was the first show (of only 4) and I assume will get even better.
Highlights were the songs pulled from Mellow Gold, and not played in around 10 years, “Motherfuker” and “Fuckin With My Head.” I really enjoyed Nigel Godrich’s goofy little keyboard break on “The New Pollution.” “Girl” was played extremely fast. “Sissyneck” and “Lord Only Knows” were also memorable, but I’m such a sucker for anything Odelay, and may be biased on those.
Anyway, hopefully some of the South American gigs will get recorded too. This is an interesting lineup for the band, and it would be great to hear them grow.