Archive for the ‘Beck in Southampton’ Category

Beck in Southampton: lacklustre

July 3, 2008
Following a run of disappointing gigs – crap operas, underwhelming folkpop – I was looking to Beck to raise the bar. The multi-talented LA slacker wouldn’t let me down, surely?

Beck’s catalogue gets a regular airing on my hi-fi. I admire his musical richness, innovation, eclecticism, intelligent engagement with his audience niche and, most of all, his creative vitality. Beck’s always been one of the most grown-up of the younger poprockers.

Monday’s Southampton gig was, alas, a lacklustre let-down. The set list was so one-paced – monotone new wave rock – that for the first half hour the band could have been playing the same song. Try as the energetic four-piece band might, the main man just seemed reluctant to join in. I’ve rarely seen such an unengaged performer.

Now I abhor phoney show biz BS from the stage – “Great to be back in Southampton – lovely city…”, but performers need to acknowledge my presence – they’re not jamming in the privacy of their own home. Leaving a space between songs to allow the audience to applaud would be a step in the right direction.

Did Beck really want to be there? If he needs inspiration, he should sneak a look at Yearsayer, his lively Brooklyn-based artrock support band. They were an unalloyed joy.

The sound mix was poor – insufficient clarity on Beck’s vocals. The lighting was obtrusive, with powerful spots aimed at the audience (my eyes are still smarting three days later), but also ineffectual, largely ignoring Beck. Probably the worst lighting I’ve experienced at a paying gig.

The Guildhall, a small venue, was nowhere near sold out. It’s easy to see why.

Conclusion: love the recorded legacy; looking forward to next week’s new release; Southampton show surprisingly poor.

Gerry Smith