button BECK @ Nihon Budokan (1st April '03)
-- Sea Change Tour 2002-2003 --

"Far From Lost Is This Enchanted Wizard Of Rhythm"


As with the presence of common sense being uncommon in this world so can be said of the continuity of quality accompanied with growth in longstanding artists. Yet this is precisely what Beck has somehow achieved and continues to do so in his 10 plus years of creating and performing, clearly evident in the diverse chilled beauty of his 2002 release aptly titled 'Sea Change' (Universal). With this unpredicted, yet now welcomed change in his creative sailing, a subsequent tour was launched last fall in the States' and came into port over here in Japan for a slew of dates, two being in the most famed Tokyo venues, the ever intimate Liquid Room in the seedy district of Kabukicho in Shinjuku and the spacious Nihon Budakon on part of the Imperial Palace grounds.


Defying any rumours from others of it most likely being a muddled, convoluted, less than satisfactory show, Beck and his usual cohorts orchestrated a show that quite possibly could have easily been one of his best ever, leaving all inside Budakon most satisfied not only for his difficult, yet spot on choices within his discography, but also as well as for the style of each performance this night. This genius surprising? No, not at all for any longtime fan of Beck. Since seeing him 6 times prior in various venue sizes and time slots, the first being back at my university back in California during his 'Mellow Gold' days and last in October 2002 with The Flaming Lips on Late Night with Conan O'Brien ( a famous tv show in the States'), Beck continues to know when and how to morph to fit the material or the environment. Like the instinctual talents of comedic luminaries such as Robin Williams and Eddie Izzard, Beck knows and knew the wh! o, what, when, where, how and why in delivering his goods.


In listening to the contemplative ponderings upon of 'Sea Change,' there was no question in my mind how it would beautifully transfer live in the cozy confines of Liquid Room, yet what about in the antithesis of the former to be found in Budakon? Furthermore, how would Beck balance out his funkier, quirkier material of 'Mellow Gold', 'Odelay', and 'Midnite Vultures' against the much more inward, head music to be found in 'Mutations' and 'Sea Change'? Perhaps Beck Hansen, one of the undeniably most gifted and unpredictable artists, had finally come to a bridge that even he could not cross. Yet the resounding answer to these concerns were no.


As the insides of Budakon swelled in the anticipation of what was to follow, the lights dimmed to their greatest possiblity whilst the whistles, screams, applause ensued as Beck took to the stage by his lonesome self to start the night acoustically. With two spotters firmly affixed on his frame, he opened up with his late night Dylan/ Young/ Springsteenesque ramblings of "Guess I'm doing fine." Choking you up with his disarming vocals and somber harmonica play, instantly you hypnotically entered the wonderful multidimensional world of Beck Hansen, forgetting that you were in such a mammoth-sized venue. With its very conclusion, you just knew you and he were doing more than just fine. Further indicating to be wholly true was his covering ode to The Lips "Do you realize?," he impeccably showed a most underscored tender side of his vocal abilities with his clear yearning and appreciation of life and those around you delivered in this ditty. Certainly war! mly welcomed, how appropriate now in an increasingly bloodied world. Closing out his short solo acoustic set, he tapped into the pump organ next to him in the mesmerizing Indian-inspired psychedelia of "Nobody's Fault" from 'Mutations.' Like an anathesiologist, Beck calmed us with his wares and skills before the main event.

Poking fun at his 'rock star' status, Beck commenced the remaining set after dryly commenting with a chuckle, "I can't resist saying this...This is the first song on my record." True to form, he launched into "The Golden Age" as his regulars rounded out his eclectic creations as Justin provided basslines, Roger on synths, Smokey on electric guitar and Joey on drums. Together, they helped layer each other, encourage each other, playfully antagonize each other, and simply provide an invincible bouyance in their collective performance which brought about aspects of a divergent group of artists such as Air, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Parliament amongst others. Yet no matter how you look, listen, feel about these 5 souls performing together, this beautiful collage is unmistakenbly Beck's signature that shall duly earn him a place in the Rock 'N' Roll Hall Of Fame in the not so distant futu! re as there is no stopping him and his brothers in arms as it was succuntly enjoyed in Budakon.


With the natural calm present and all of the subsequent unforced fun soon to follow, it's clear that despite his worldwide accomplishments and adulation, Beck hasn't let it gone to his head or to his cohorts in their collective dispensing of liberating mischief, folk, funk, and fun. As he showcased not only his, but his bandmates many facets, their undeniable love, understanding and appreiciation for each other as well as for all those in front of them became more and more apparent as the night progressed. beck

Covering his discography in a beautifully balanced set, Beck chose wisely as he and his bandmates gave us a sumptuous ride. Whether it was their changed tempo interstellar overdrive delivery of "New Pollution" or the walking, building dissonance of "Sunday Sun" from his latest album or the everpresent joyous freedom of "Milk & Honey," Beck, Roger, Justin, Smokey and Joey delivered the goods to our and their utmost delight. Naturally, it wouldn't be complete without his one-of-a-kind moves on the floor that are reminiscent of primetime Jackson and Prince, yet bump it up a notch from there. Yes, he was fully funktified, cozy with the Cheez whiz. No stopping this man as he flashed his hallmark robotic moves during "Hotwax" to a howling wail of approval as he, Justin and Smokey instigated a sea of wave-clapping that lasted and lasted. Of course, all good ! things must come to an end unfortunately at some point, but the only question was with what?

As the night unfurled it became noticeable that one of his biggest rumpshakers was yet to be played, but thundered out for the closer, that being of course "Where it's at." As it closed, a neverending calvacade of applause and whistles filled this house as the stage was vacated. Minutes later, Beck and company reemerged in matching white jumpsuits for the sizzling single encore of "Devil's Haircut." As the chorus rang out, second in funkdom to Beck himself, Justin gave the devil horns sign with the obligatory tongue out as well. As they finished, Beck provided a Spinal Tap moment as he took an empty kerosene can and ran it against his Telecaster's fretboard, creating a shrieking final solo that Tap's Nigel Tufnel would heartily approve. With his finish, he and the others waved away and saluted us. Yet, the faithful within these confines couldn't contain their elation and appreciation of what tran! spired and it soon spread to the band themselves as they came back onstage, giving us a collective Family Von Trapp bow that gave way to individual hugs and one final group hug before leaving the stage for good. Ah yes, everything is going to be alright could aptly sum up the feeling this moment as Beck, Smokey, Justin, Roger and Joey made this world a better place. A kaleidoscope of fun in both sound and vision indeed.

To get and keep down all the way, look no further:


Nihon Budakon Setlist (April Fool's, 2003)

Guess I'm Doing Fine / Do You Realize? / Nobody's Fault But My Own /The Golden Age / The New Pollution / Pressure Zone / Hotwax / Mixed Bizness / Broken Train / Paper Tiger / It's All In Your Mind / Lost Cause / Side Of The Road / Lonesome Tears / Sunday Sun / Loser / Milk & Honey / Novacane / Nicotine And Gravy / Thuder Peel / Sexx Laws / Where It's At / ---- / Devils Haircut

review by michael and photos by saya38.
the photos were taken in a "acoustic set" @ Shinjuku Liquid Room on the 31st of March...

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–³’f“]Ú‚ð‹Ö‚¶‚Ü‚·BThe copyright of the text belongs to Michael Lare and the same of
the photos belongs to "saya38" Takahashi. They may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever.

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