Beck performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Aug. 22, 2019. (Photo by Rashad Polk)
In preparation of the release of his upcoming album Hyperspace, Beck stopped by Merriweather on his co-headlining tour with Cage the Elephant.
Early in the evening, it was unclear whether Beck would make it to the stage. A string of severe thunderstorms had pushed through the area causing Cage the Elephant to exit the stage in the middle of their set before eventually finishing. It wasn’t until shortly after 10:35pm that Beck was finally able to perform. Opening with his 1993 hit “Loser,” Beck quickly engaged the crowd in what would become a nightlong singalong spanning the singer/songwriter/producer’s incredibly decorated career.
Despite the abbreviated setlist, fans were treated to numerous radio hits and a trio of singles off of 2017’s Grammy Award-winning Colors including “Up All Night,” “Wow,” and “Dreams.” Prior to performing the lead single off his upcoming album, Beck let everyone know that the irony of the evening was not lost on him. While introducing “Saw Lightning,” a song featuring Pharrell Williams on the Fall 2019 Hyperspace album, Beck assured everyone in attendance that he was not in fact attempting to summon thunderstorms back into the area.
Listen to Beck’s album Colors on Spotify:
Beck’s discography has proven to be sonically diverse — blending elements of hip-hop, rock, blues, electronica, and country. Some compositions lean more heavily towards one genre than some of the others, which makes for an interesting live performance. For the songs “Debra” and “Lost Cause,” Beck was able to pull off the performance with just his voice and a guitar (and a few thousand fans as backup singers). For the rest of the set, a live band — and in some cases, samples — were utilized with Beck acting as more of an emcee.
It’s common knowledge that Beck is above all else an artist, unafraid to expand upon and push the limits of creativity. It’s during the performance of some the his more experimental material that Beck’s visual stage show was most effective. In addition to a killer laser light show, projections of the singer’s image were broadcast onto a multi-story screen at the back of the stage and manipulated in trippy and innovative ways.
Before closing out the show with a jammed out version of “Where It’s At,” Beck brought out singers from two of the other bands sharing the bill to do guest performances. Britt Daniel from Spoon returned to the stage to give an assist with a cover of Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” followed by Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant coming out to perform “Night Running,” which is a track on Cage the Elephant’s latest album that was cowritten and features vocals from Beck.
Beck is a truly unique songwriter, and he has proven himself to be a top-notch performer as well. Weathering the storm to catch his performance was well worth it. With any luck, the next time Beck comes to town, any lightning sightings will be by proxy.
Check out more photos of Beck at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Aug. 22, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Rashad Polk.