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Cycle: “Hotwax” - 2014 Morning Phase Tour breakdown

"Hotwax"

Song stats: “Hotwax” was played very sporadically in 2014.  Beck played it at just 7 of the 57 shows, and they were spread out over the entire course of the year (show #s 1, 7, 8, 17, 21, 23, and 53).

Band:
Beck - vocals, electric guitar (and a goofy solo)
Smokey - acoustic slide guitar
Justin - bass, background vocals, percussion
Gus - electric guitar, bg vocals, percussion
Roger - keyboards, effects/samples, tambourine
Joey - drums
Jason (after April) - electric guitar

Breakdown:
"Hotwax" consists of three verse/choruses, surrounded by four very different breaks (an intro, two bridges, and an outro). I’m always impressed with the way Beck and The Dust Brothers made those breaks as entertaining as the verses and choruses!  It’s one of my favorite things about Odelay.  But that’s another topic for another day.  This year, Beck played "Hotwax" very much identically to the record, going through all three verse/choruses and even recreating all of the breaks exactly. They did however extend the outro, giving the song another fun section.

At the time of the song where the record ends, the band would just keep going.  That extended outro could have two parts: first, a sort of singalong “I get down, I get down, I get down all the way” part and second, Beck telling a story about finding a guitar solo from 1987 in the street and then playing one.   I say “could” there because I have heard 5 of the 7 “Hotwax”s and 2 of those skipped the singalong, and Beck just went straight to his solo bit.  The guitar solo is a lot of fun, humorous, Beck pseudo-shredding in his own unvirtuosic but entertaining way.  The solo would end the song (and it was a TRUE solo, the band does not accompany him there).

Overall though, this song’s odd rhythms did not quite fit with the rest of the set, which was focused on the highly energetic, smoother stuff, and that’s my guess as to why it did not show up very often.  It always sounds pretty good, and hearing this band recreate all the moving parts is fun, but “Hotwax” never really got fully comfortable this year.  I would have liked to hear it develop more energy or explosiveness, much in the way “Beercan” did.  (Which will be my next song for Cycle.  ’Til then!)

Highlights:

Tucson, Arizona (show #7): not a good video, but the audio is clear and this version has a nice lead-up/story to Beck’s guitar solo.


Nashville, Tennessee (show #23): I like this version mostly because of Smokey’s slide guitar, he plays a bit longer intro here than usual.


Cycle: “Loser” - 2014 Morning Phase Tour breakdown

"Loser"

Song stats: Out of 57 shows, played 55 times.  The two times “Loser” was not played were at the more acoustic KCRW appearance, and the short “mini-concert” for the Jimmy Kimmel show.  ”Loser” jumped around the setlist quite a bit though, most often near the front (it settled into the 3rd song slot for a long while), though it actually started one show (the short KROQ festival) and dropped down to the penultimate slot a few times at the end of the tour.

Band:
Beck - vocals only
Gus - acoustic slide guitar (the famous riff), background vocals
Smokey - mandolin (recreating the sitar), bg vocals
Justin - bass, bg vocals, maracas sometimes
Roger - tambourine, bg vocals, the sound effects
Joey - drums
Jason (after April) - bg vocals, electric guitar (possibly. watching some videos, I’m not convinced he ever actually played it during this song, though he usually was wearing it.)

Breakdown:
I think that “Loser” is very symbolic of this 2014 Morning Phase tour, and taking a look at it is a great place to start.

"Loser" on the record is a surprisingly minimal song, both in performance and arrangement.  It definitely feels richer than it may actually be, which is one of its greatest aspects.  On stage, over the years, Beck has tried different styles with "Loser," but in 2014, the band simply followed the template of the record, almost to a tee.  They used a similarly minimal arrangement - one guitar, bass, drums, mandolin, a little percussion.  Beck would even sing the "I’m a driver, I’m a winner…" sample most nights!  

The only real difference was the vibe: Beck would turn the chorus into a crowd singalong, which made it feel a bit more like a party than the record.  That vibe was indeed often a highlight of shows, as “Loser” remains one of the songs that Beck’s crowds respond to the most, and that excitement does help immensely.  Having listened to as many live versions from this year as possible, the success of the song night in and night out hinged on whether Beck was extra enthusiastic (i.e., nailing his raps) or if the crowd was extra enthusiastic (festival crowds LOVE this song).

But in listening to all these versions, the song rarely strayed, and very quickly it began to feel like the band was in cruise control.  This is one criticism I have of the tour overall, to be honest.  The shows this year, though full of vigor and chemistry and skill, still felt like a package of standards delivered nightly.  ”Loser” remains an amazing fucking song, and it is probably impossible to play with some energy and spirit.  But this tour somehow strangely combined being energetic, skilled and fun with being a tidy show lacking any real artiness or edge.  ”Loser” exemplified this on a micro level.  I will gladly note though that at some point around July, the band did seem to consciously embrace “Loser” a bit more, and started to bring it to life better than they had earlier.

There were still some occasional fun things in the song.  In Cleveland, Beck adlibbed a bit of Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See.”  For the Austin City Limits TV show, he ended the song singing “She’s got tofu the size of Texas” from “Nitemare Hippy Girl.” A few times, Beck traded a couple of lines with Justin Meldal-Johnsen—singing “shave your face” and letting JMJ do the “with your mace in the dark” for example—which I thought was fun, and don’t believe I’ve heard them do before.  In Seattle, Beck told a relatively long story in the middle of the song about how that city was one of the first to help break “Loser” back in the day.  And of course, in Providence, Jack White joined the band for a few songs and “Loser” was one.

Anyway, I feel like I keep flipflopping between criticizing and praising, and that’s sort of where I’m at with 2014 “Loser”s (and the tour as a whole, to be honest).  ”Loser” is fun to hear, and always will be, but it is a song that this band—most of whom have been playing with Beck for quite some time—can do in their sleep, and sometimes I think it came off that way.

(Not all my Cycle song breakdowns will be this long.  Next up “Hotwax” later this afternoon.)

"Loser" highlights:

North Adams, Massachusetts (show #15): liked the angle and closeness of this video, though this performance is very typical.

Central Park, New York City (show #20): both NYC shows had great “Loser”s, and I think they were where the song peaked this year.  Best mix of crowd and band enthusiasm for sure.  Here is the second night:




Providence, Rhode Island (show #32): and of course, the Jack White version of the song [there is actual video of this but this one has better sound quality].  Love the jankiness Jack brings to the song, and he seems to get them to play the song much faster than usual.  Superb!

Cycle: Morning Phase tour breakdown

Hi!  Sorry for the lack of posts, I’ve been swamped and can only really focus on Beck things on the weekends.  The Morning Phase tour has ended, and Beck is presumably at work on his next album.  But until we get there, I’m going to take a look back at the Morning Phase tour in depth.  I am going to write up each song Beck played this year, take a close look at them all.

But for this first Cycle post, I am going to drop the stats of the tour.  

There were 57 shows (not counting TV appearances, though I did count the Kimmel show mini-concert).  These shows were over 7 legs of varying length:

April 2014 - 10 shows from LA across to Texas. (almost an outlier leg, Jason Falkner was not part of this leg, two months off afterwards)
June 2014 - 9 shows (+ one festival in between April & June) (mostly in the northeast US & canada)
July 2014 - 14 shows (southeast & midwest US)
August 2014 - 6 shows (northwest US)
September 2014 - 8 shows (the UK & western Europe)
September 2014 - 3 shows (California)
October 2014 - 7 shows (midwest US & Mexico)

I did not receive setlists for two shows (Tucson and the Bestival Festival) so you can add 2 to all these numbers theoretically.

Beck and the band played 48 songs (not including snippets of things).

The songs played by album:

One Foot In The Grave - Asshole (half a time)

Stereopathetic - One Foot In The Grave (lots of times, it’s not always reported or on setlists so I lost count)

Mellow Gold - Loser (53 times), Beercan (13), Pay No Mind (1)

Odelay - Devils Haircut (55), Where It’s At (53), New POllution (31), Sissyneck/Billie Jean (16), Novacane (14), Hotwax (7), Minus (4)

Mutations - Dead Melodies (3), Tropicalia (1)

Midnite Vultures - Debra (45), Sexx Laws (39), Get Real Paid (11)

Sea Change - Lost Cause (49), Golden Age (20), Paper Tiger (13)

Guero - E-Pro (54), Black Tambourine (53), Girl (50), Hell Yes (42), Que Onda Guero (23)

Info - Think I’m In Love (50), Soldier Jane (22)

Modern Guilt - Soul Of A Man (39), Gamma Ray (24), Modern Guilt (15), Chemtrails (10)

Morning PhaseBlue Moon (53), Waking Light (44), Wave (33), Heart Is A Drum (31), Blackbird Chain (26), Say Goodbye (24), Country Down (18), Unforgiven (10), Don’t Let It Go (5)

covers - Da Ya Think I’m Sexy (2), Wah Wah, 1999, Controversy, Lonesome Whistle, Rebellion (Lies) (1)

other stuff - Timebomb (12), Heavens Ladder (1)


Be back later this evening with the first couple of MP tour song breakdowns!

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Austin, Texas)

October 10, 2014 - ACL Festival, week 2, Austin, Texas

Sorry, this show was last night so I’m a day late.  Fell asleep Was out partying and didn’t get to it last night.

Beck’s played Austin a good number of times, including 4 times this year.  (counting last night).

1. March 17, 1994 - Emo’s.  This is a sort of famous early gig at SXSW, just as the Mellow Gold tour was starting.  It was more of a sideshow tour, as it was some sort of industry event.  Johnny Cash (backed by the Bad Seeds!) played, as well as a couple other groups.  Beck impressed a lot of the musicians in the crowd, and got to meet Gibby Haynes from The Butthole Surfers.  Joey Waronker, in the Mellow Gold 10th Anniversary documentary, called this “probably the most fucked-up, musically, show I’ve ever played.”

2. June 19, 1994 - Liberty Lunch. A popular smallish venue in Austin, Beck came back around during the Mellow Gold tour.

3. August 9, 1995 - Southpark Meadows. Lollapalooza ‘95!  

4. October 1, 1996 - Austin Music Hall. Odelay tour.  Someone threw ice at Beck and it hit him in the forehead, so he cut his acoustic set short.

5. January 25, 2000 - Austin Music Hall. Vultures tour opening night!  Hank Williams III opened.  

6. August 22, 2002 - Westlake High School.  A high school!  This was the solo Sea Change tour.  Beck was in a really talkative mood, making up “songs”/stories about the bats in Austin, and that first Austin gig.

7. November 11, 2002 - Austin City Limits TV show with The Flaming Lips.  One of my fave tv performances, always enjoyed this.  You can watch it all on Youtube.

8. November 12, 2002 - Bass Concert Hall, Sea Change tour with the Flaming Lips.

9. June 20, 2006 - The Backyard. Info tour.  

10. September 27, 2008 - ACL Festival back when it was just one weekend.  Beck was considered one of the headliners, along with Foo Fighters, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and Manu Chao.

-

then as I said he’s played there 4 times this year… ACL TV show, an ACL Fest sideshow at Stubb’s BBQ, and then both weekends of ACL Festival.

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Houston, Texas)

October 9, 2014 - Brady Center, Houston, Texas

Beck went back to Houston tonight, to get him some pants.  Quite surprisingly, it was only his fifth time in Houston:

1. March 20 1994 - Goat’s Head Soup - during the first weeks of the Mellow Gold tour. This was a very small punk club, which 2 months later, was blown up, allegedly by its co-owner.

2. June 18, 1994 - Toad’s On The Deck - the March 1994 shows were so jammed that he played a lot of the cities a second time 2 months later to make up for it. Within two weeks of this show, Toad’s would close because management had a huge debt.

3. Sept 30, 1996 - Numbers Nightclub - Odelay tour, don’t know much about it.

4. Nov 13, 2002 - Jones Hall - Sea Change tour with the Flaming Lips. First time Beck and Wayne did a duet of “Who Loves The Sun?”. And this was the poster!

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

October 7, 2014 - Brady Theater, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Beck’s Morning Phase tour is winding down, and tonight he makes it to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Beck has played in Oklahoma 5 other times, and 4 of those were in Tulsa:

1. September 28, 1996 - Cain’s Ballroom - Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips was in the audience at this show.  Cain’s is famous as an old place where one of Beck’s favorite country musicians, Bob Wills, got his start.

2. April 19, 1997 - River Parks Amphitheater - this was a radio festival called Edge Z104.5 Earthday/Birthday.  Beck was the headliner, the rest were not terribly famous: Cowboy Mouth, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, K’s Choice, Rhythm Lizards.

3. June 19, 2006 - Cain’s Ballroom - this was the Info tour with Jami Lidell opening.  I have a 30 song setlist for this show, so they just went for it I guess.

4. September 28, 2008 - Cain’s Ballroom - 12 years to the day after the first Cain’s show!  And there’s two cool posters for this show:

image

image

"Lovers drag their canes across the gates"

[I realize they’re not playing Cain’s this time but that was the best lyric I could find for tonight. :)]

Habitations & The Towns We Know (New Orleans, LA)

Beck’s final leg of the Morning Phase tour has started.  (I didn’t do this for the first two shows, they were in Austin and I will write up Austin when they return there again in a week.)

Tonight, then, Beck hits New Orleans for the second time in his career. The first time was very early on his very first tour: March 22, 1994.  I do not know how or why he has not played there since, and it is kind of unbelievable.

So enjoy the show if anyone is going tonight!

Will they play “Fucking WIth My Head”?

Found myself in New Orleans with a scarecrow in my jeans 
Feed my forehead through the ceiling
Drank my coffee with a hubcap yeah! 

Pink Noise #7: March 30, 1994 - Axis, Boston, Massachusetts

March 30, 1994 - Axis, Boston, Massachusetts [Hijacked]

Time to go way back in the Pink Noise TARDIS to a very early Mellow Gold show: March 30, 1994 at the Axis in Boston.  The Axis was a relatively small club right next to Fenway Park, and Beck’s wave of “Loser” popularity was at an apex when his first ever tour started in March, 1994.  Mary Lou Lord, a popular Bostonian folk singer (I saw her busking in the street once when I lived there!) and That Dog, along for this whole tour, opened the show.

The bootleg is old and distant, the crowd is noisy, but it is still listenable, and enjoyable.

A few earlier recordings from Beck’s career exist, but mostly acoustic shows, or incomplete or terrible-sounding tapes.  This Axis tape, on the other hand, is (probably) a full show from near the beginning of his first actual tour.  Beck was still clearly finding the correct balance between his artistic punk tendencies and satisfying an audience.  (Honestly, this probably took him a few years.)  But that, above all, is what makes this recording so very fascinating to hear today.  It captures Beck at his beginning, in front of the world for the first time, as his immense talent as a performer was literally just starting to take shape.  His songwriting skills were always there, but as a performer, he was quite different than he would shortly become (and is now).

A DJ introduces Beck: “Tonight for the first time in Boston, it’s fucking Beck!!!” The enthusiastic exclamation is immediately tempered, as Beck strolls out alone.  He mentions that someone told him he was jaundiced, and the crowd looks jaundiced too, so he brought them vegetables.  In looking up information for this show, I read a memory from someone saying that Beck’s crew handed out cold cuts to the audience, so I guess that’s what was happening.

Beck then dryly announces, “This is called ‘Whoomp! There It Is,’” before playing “Mexico.”  Beck’s voice sounds quite nice, and there’s some fancy guitarwork in there, but this is definitely an awkward song to start a show with, especially at this time, at this place.  The Axis was a young, hardcore style venue and I’m sure the crowd was expecting more rowdiness, and Beck gave them a long hypnotic Woody Guthrie folk tale off the bat.  (You can hear audience members on the boot say things like “that was horrible!”)  I think at this point, Beck was still figuring things out, as well as being slightly confrontational (i.e., not giving a fuck).

Next, Beck sings a heavily distorted acapella “Special People,” the only known live version of the song.  It is very short, and after a long pause, Beck shouts “you goddamned motherfucker!” before Joey Waronker starts a skittery drum beat and Beck continues to lull the crowd with blues.  This unique “One Foot In The Grave” lacks the energy of its usual blues stomp pizzazz.  It doesn’t last very long, and slides to a lowkey stop.  Beck can do folk and blues in his sleep - even at this point, he’s pretty great at it - but the crowd wants more, and these three songs do not really provide any punch.  They don’t feel vital.

So, the band in full finally hits the stage.  ”This is called ‘Headgear Jockstrap’,” Beck tells the crowd with a laugh.  He does not talk much at this show, except a few song intros, which is surprising, having heard other 1994 shows.  This is also the only known recording of the song, a plodding heavy metal guitar instrumental riff that ends with a loud Beck scream.  Is he trying to get the crowd going? Or himself?  

Another awkward pause as the band re-settles before heading into a dynamic “Pay No Mind.”  The set sort of starts for real here, no more messing around with whatever, they jam through some of Beck’s better songs. The fire that was missing is finally lit.  Not surprisingly, the crowd starts paying attention.

Beck’s band at this point consisted of Chris Ballew on guitar (he was there for the first half of the Mellow Gold tour), and then Dave Gomez on bass and Joey Waronker on drums (who were there for all of 1994). These guys are all great musicians, but at this point, they’re playing it down (or maybe not there yet, I’m not sure). The early 1994 shows come off ragged and rugged, with a touch of Fluxus underneathe-like when Joey lights his drums on fire, or Beck hands out food, or shouts “Special People” at the crowd.

"Fuckin WIth My Head" comes next. I love hearing this song sound so dirty, and this show is definitely picking up steam. And listening now, I cannot believe this is Beck-his raw vocals sound literally nothing like the singer he would become. His singing ability may be the most remarkable evolution Beck has had. Here he’s mostly just shouting instead of singing, though his melodic songs help make that listenable.

"Fume" follows naturally after that, another wild one, and the band seems to have a good handle on this run of songs in particular. Someone in the crowd cannot stop screaming. A completely crazy "Soul Suckin Jerk" starts with a lighter touch, as Beck gets lost in the lyrics, but by the second verse, he is there and nails it and the song is just as noisy and intense as anything. It feels like it is constantly about to fall apart, but never does.  Best song of the night! It shows off more dimensions than most of songs at this point — rap, noise, rock, goofiness, slightly psychedelic.

Beck then goes into the two big centerpieces of his set, “Blackhole” and “Loser.” “Blackhole” on stage is a slowburning sludge of a song, still hypnotic, but not acoustic and gorgeous like the record. It has a different feel entirely, but still maintains the main core of the song.  Beck lets the music take over, and you can barely hear him.

After that, Beck mentions again the cold cuts, so I guess more food is being passed out to people, while a blistering “Loser” gets them riled up again. There is always stories about how dismissive Beck was of the song back then, but fact is, he still performed it, and well. Sure, sometimes he changed the chorus (“I’m a softy, baby, so why don’t you rock/squeeze me?” tonight), but as confrontational and punk as he could be back then, “Loser” was the least confrontational and punk part of the show.

That said, a couple of Beck’s quick punk songs come next: “Chicas Punk” and “Burnt Orange Peel.” The first is a short blast, where Beck shouts “chicas punk!” a few times. A number of years back, a setlist was discovered with “Chicas Punk” listed on it. Beck.com did some research and found that Ross Harris had given Beck a comic book called Chicas Punk, and Beck wrote a quick song with the title.



 ”Burnt Orange Peel” and “Sleeping Bag” are fun, as Beck digs into One Foot for a couple of songs. “Burnt” was never played all that often that we’re aware of, and “Sleeping Bag” comes off as a warped lounge singer song, but unfortunately the tape cuts halfway through the track. When the tape cuts back in, Beck is starting an aggressive and dimented take of “Truckdrivin Neighbors.” At the end, someone shouts, “Ladies and gentlemen, Johnny Cash!” I am not sure if any songs are missed in that cut, but the tape is 55 minutes long, so if so, not much.

I have a note on Hijacked about how this show always feels out of order to me. The songs in the middle would later open or close shows (“Fume,” “Blackhole”) while the songs at the beginning and end would find better place in the middle (acoust stuff, “Sleeping Bag,” “Truckdrivin”). But that kind of flipped-out flow highlights that Beck as a performer was still learning on the fly.

It can be easy in retrospect to be like, “look how genius Beck was at the start!” I won’t go that far with this tape though. I am not sure there are too many signs here of who Beck would become.  Beck’s later skills in performing, storytelling, holding an audience enrapt all have yet to arise.  But even a young, raw, unrefined slab of Beck is an entertaining and worthwhile listen now and again.

Habitations & The Towns We Know (San Francisco, CA)

This is a day late, as Beck played San Francisco last night.  He is also playing Los Angeles tonight and tomorrow.  (I’ll be at the show tonight!)  I’m not going to city history Los Angeles though, because there are 115 in LA alone in our database (and that doesn’t count certain neighboring areas like Santa Monica or even Hollywood).  

Anyway, after this weekend of Cali shows, there’s another 10 days off before the final leg/week of the Morning Phase tour.  I’ve got a big wrap-up planned for when it’s done, that I hope I can have time to actually complete.  :)

Beck’s San Francisco shows:

1. April 18, 1994 - Slim’s - super early Mellow Gold show. know nothing else about it.

2. July 6, 1994 - Fillmore West - another MG show.

3. December 17, 1994 - Slim’s again - near the end of the MG tour. Sukia opened.

4. June 16, 1996 - Golden Gate Park - Tibetan Freedom Concert - Sonic Youth, Bjork, Rage Against The Machine, Yoko Ono and more all played this show. It was two days before Odelay came out. I have a note that says it was an acoustic set, but also that he played “Burnt Orange Peel” and “High 5” so I don’t know if that’s true. Guess I should look into that.

5. October 10, 1996 - Odelay! One review said that Beck came out with a glass of wine and promised a “night of wine and song in which we’ll touch the funk.”

6. December 15, 1996 - Cow Palace - Live 105 Green Christmas Ball - list of bands for this show is nutso: The Chemical Brothers, Sebadoh, Orbital, Mazzy Star, Fiona Apple, Lemonheads, Eels, Cake, Butthole Surfers and Allen Ginsberg (!).

7. May 2, 2000 - Bill Graham Civic Aud. - long time away from SF here, but Midnite Vultures brought him back.

8. September 24, 2000 - Golden Gate Park - some random thing called the Now And Zen Fest. Keanu Reeves band played before him (also The Go-Go’s).

9. October 12, 2000 - lots of shows in 2000. This was something called “WIRED Readers Rave Awards.” David Spade was the host, and Beck played a (long) set by himself.

10. October 26, 2000 - Warfield Theatre - oh remember this? Miller Genuine Draft would host concerts around, giving tickets away, but not announcing who actually would play. It was a total surprise until right before the show started. Tonight’s show: Beck and the Foo Fighters.

11. August 28 & 29, 2002 - Palace Of Fine Arts Theatre - Beck’s solo Sea Change tour. The second night was filmed for the MTV.

12. July 18, 2005 - Bill Graham Civic Aud. - Guero tour - don’t have a full setlist for this show. That afternoon Beck showed up and played guitar in the back of the Pancho Villa Tacqueria to a bunch of people eating burritos who didn’t care who he was.

13. May 25, 2006 - The Fillmore - Info tour - second show with Wounded Cougar as the band. I wrote about this show on Pink Noise last week, a bootleg just surfaced of it. 

14. August 22, 2008 - Golden Gate Park - Outside Lands - this show was webcast. Radiohead was also there.

15. August 31, 2008 - The Independent - small 500-person show announced just a few days before it happened. there’s a good bootleg, and I recall it being a memorable gig. 

16. May 19, 2011 - Pier 48 - this was a one-off gig for a charity, and Beck used a one-time mix of band members (Roger Joseph Manning, Joey Waronker, Bram Inscore, and Jason Falkner) as well as a local jazz band (Jazz Mafia) who added horns to a bunch of things. It was his first real concert in 26 months.

17. August 9, 2012 - Bimbo’s 365 Club - another “surprise” gig in SF, announced the day before it happened. they covered Neil Young’s “Barstool Blues.”

18. August 10, 2012 - Golden Gate Park - Outside Lands festival. Neil Young was playing after them, so Beck sang a little of “After The Gold Rush.” 

19. October 20, 2013 - Treasure Island Festival - yet another SF festival. Alexis Krauss from Sleigh Bells sang “Let’s Get Lost” with Beck.

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Madrid, Spain)

September 13, 2014 - DCODE Festival, Madrid Spain

Beck is headlining the one-day festival in Madrid tonight!  It is the final show of the Morning Phase Europe tour too.  There’s a week off, then some shows in California, then another couple weeks before some shows in the Texas/Mexico area.

Beck has played in Spain 16 other times, but Madrid only 6 of those:

1. November 5, 1994 - The Revolver Club - late on the Mellow Gold tour, there’s a nice bootleg of this one which includes one of only 3 known live versions of “Outcome” and a particularly long acoustic medley.

2. March 27, 1996 - La Riviera - this was on the tour Beck did opening for Sonic Youth during the little break between finishing Odelay and its release.  He played a bunch of shows with them, all solo acoustic.

3. May 2, 1997 - This was a Madrid festival called Festimad.  For this year anyway, it seems like a particularly heavy lineup as The Prodigy were headliners, and The Rollins Band and Body Count were also there.

4. March 6, 2000 - La Riviera again - this was the Midnite Vultures tour show.

5. June 25, 2005 - Metro Rock Festival at the Parque Juan Carlos I.  Beck headlined the second day, though most of the bands seem to have been Spanish, with only a few international acts (like Morcheeba and Ani DiFranco).

6. July 9, 2008 - La Riviera again - the Modern Guilt tour… long setlist (25 songs).

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Paris, France)

September 11, 2014 - Le Zenith, Paris, France

Beck returns to Paris, for the 15th time (or so, didn’t include every French TV appearance.)

Will Air join them tonight?!  Or Charlotte Gainsbourg?

1. December 2, 1994 - Mellow Gold tour, right near the end of it.

2. August 29, 1995 - at Le Bataclan… Foo Fighters and Guided By Voices opened for him.

3. September 12, 1995 - after doing his own shows in Europe, Beck took a week and “sat around Spain for five days” and came back to France and did a short solo acoustic show opening for Sonic Youth.

4. March 21, 1996 - then a few months later, he opened a whole Sonic Youth tour across Europe doing his solo acoustic set. it was sort of a little breather tour after Odelay was done and before it came out, I think.

5. March 29, 2000 - Vultures tour.

6. April 1, 2000 - a TV show on Canal+… played a fairly full set, but mostly memorable because Air joined him on a few different songs (“Beautiful Way,” “Where It’s At,” and some others) and Jane Birkin (!) sang “L’Anamour” with him.

7. July 1, 2001 - a side show from a mostly festival tour. this is one of my favorite bootlegs actually. i need to dig it up.

8. April 22, 2003 - Beck’s solo tour of Europe for Sea Change, at Le Grand Rex. Air joined him again, and they did “The Vagabond” and “Whiskeyclone.” Also some guy from the audience came on stage and sang “Mexico.”

9. August 27, 2003 - Rock En Seine Festival

10. March 24, 2005 - at Le Nouveau Casino, but a small private show and tickets were sold with very short notice, but it was broadcast on the radio.

11. June 16, 2005 - Le Zenith De Paris… don’t have a setlist for this early Guero show.

12. August 26, 2006 - Rock En Seine Festival again, this time with Radiohead and Phoenix. 

13. July 7, 2008 - Modern Guilt tour

14. July 2, 2013 - last year he did that mostly solo show there, playing all sorts of crazy old stuff (“O Maria”, “Rowboat,” “It’s All In Your Mind”). Nicolas from Air played piano on “Sunday Morning,” and Charlotte Gainsbourg sang “Heaven Can Wait”. 

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Brussels, Belgium)

September 10, 2014 - Forest National, Brussels, Belgium

Beck’s Europe tour continues as they play the famous Forest National in Belgium tonight.

Beck has played Belgium quite often, but over half of those were probably the big rock festivals that seem to be quite popular in the country (Pukkelpop, Dour, Werchter, etc.).  Because of this, he hasn’t actually been in the capitol, Brussels, very often:

1. November 30, 1996 - also at Forest National.  We didn’t have this date listed in our database until 2012, when I turned it up doing a big search/quality fact check.  So really don’t know anything about it.

2. March 28, 2000 - Midnite Vultures show at the Halles De Schaerbeek.  Like most shows on MV, the setlist got posted to beck.com but this one didn’t have “Cold Brains” which for some reason he started the show with like thus (according to one newspaper review):

Beck finally arrived on a retro - futuristic stage, carrying only an acoustic guitar, and started to sing “Cold Brains”. One by one, the 10 (!) members of his band joined him adding each time an extra dimension to the song.” 




Habitations & The Towns We Know (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

September 8, 2014 - Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Beck has performed quite often in The Netherlands (17 times), and been in Amsterdam itself for eight of those shows.  Those shows have often been quite memorable!

1. December 4, 1994 - Melkweg: there’s a bootleg of this show and it’s one of my favorites from 1994.  Nothing too unusual about it or anything, but it’s just a really great show (and an hour of it was broadcast on the radio).  

2. July 21, 1996 - Paradiso: I wrote about this show for the Pink Noise series, and as I said, it’s up there as one of my all-time favorite gigs.  Very early on the Odelay tour, the band was young and raw and hungry and basically set fire to the world.

3. November 19, 1999 - at the Felix Meritis… this was a short, secret show during some promotional appearances for Midnite Vultures.  Tickets were given away on beck.com, and it was broadcast on the radio.  They only did 7 songs.  Beck says the show was a “high impact presentation that benefits your thighs and abdomen.”

4.  August 22, 2000 - Paradiso again.  And again, the Paradiso gets a memorable show.  I’m going to have to Pink Noise this one at some point.  Out of nowhere, they just sort of changed up their set big time and did the first 17 (!) tracks as full-band acoustic, playing a wide range of things from Mutations, One Foot, Stereopathetic even.  It was sort of the “country” half of the set.  Than the “rock” half was 13 more songs, mostly Vultures.  The whole thing was loose and fun, and I think they only did the show this way a couple of times on this tour.

5. June 8, 2005 - Heineken Music Hall - my Hijacked note begins with “this a very fun show!” so again, Amsterdam wins.  Beck tells the crowd that he ate a “very large Dutch meal” and feels fortified.

6. August 16, 2006 - Paradiso again, in the middle of a bunch of festival gigs, they used the opportunity to play a few other things.  Probably the live debut of ‘No Complaints,” and other ‘rarer’ Informations songs included “Motorcade” and “Movie Theme.”

7. June 30, 2008 - Melkweg - another cool show, includes the live debut of the rare (on stage) “Volcano.”  

Pink Noise #6: May 25, 2006 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, California

May 25, 2006 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA [hijacked]

Beck finished recording Guero in the beginning of 2005, and toured behind it until October.  He then took five months off from touring, and went and finished The Information, which he had begun prior to the Guero interruption.  After finishing Info, Beck returned to the road in May 2006.  This bootleg is of their second show back.  It is a ‘new’ bootleg too, that just surfaced recently, so I’ll be writing as I listen to it for the first time.  Not my usual Pink Noise M.O. here, but I am always stoked for a new boot!

First, how cool is this poster?  I love it, it’s one of my favorite show posters ever.

May 2006 brought a couple of notable changes, as most new tours do.  One, Justin Meldal-Johnsen returned to the band to play bass, as he was not there in 2005.  That makes this the second show ever with the guys who would end up forming the infamous Wounded Cougar: Justin Meldal-Johnsen (bass), Brian LeBarton (keys), Matt Sherrod (drums), Justin Stanley (guitar), Ryan Falkner (dancing).  I always really liked the youthful, mad energy that this group brought to Beck’s songs.  Also this tour saw the debut of the puppet band, as well as some other strange things like bear suits.  And not to mention, they could not resist playing the new Info songs, though it would not be released until October.  

The show sort of begins with “Loser,” though in actuality, it was just the PuppeTron band mimicking playing to the Mellow Gold recording.  Beck and the real band don’t show up until after that.  If you never saw the puppets, Beck had little doppelganger marionettes for each band member and throughout the entire show, they mimicked the actions of their live counterparts.  So fun!

The real band then comes on stage with “Black Tambourine” and “Devils Haircut” (in that order), which should sound familiar, because in 2014, almost every show begins with “Devils Haircut” and “Black Tambourine” (in that order).  Beck likes to start his shows explosively, that’s for sure, and these are his go-to songs for that.

The band eases into “Soldier Jane” next, a new song for the audience.  The most evident difference here, and probably in the first two songs as well, is the percussion.  The band really experimented with percussion-from multiple drummers sometimes, to bongos, to Brazilian shakers, to various whatever.  And this bootleg is clear enough for all that to stand out, making the songs feel extra lively.

"Paper Tiger" feels similar to "Soldier Jane," not as seductively smooth as later tours, but still groovy and alive.  Beck is sort of invisible though, but the band sounds great.  Beck then introduces the band, especially glad to have JMJ back after five years.  (JMJ did a short tour or two in there, but had not been a long-term band member since 2001.)

This leads into Beck blues jamming on his acoustic guitar, which somehow becomes a totally janky, sweaty funk medley of “Hotwax,” “Nicotine & Gravy,” “Hell Yes,” and “We Dance Alone.”  The rare 4-album medley!  It feels spontaneous, but it was listed on the setlist as “Wax / Nic / Hell Yes / Dance” so clearly it was planned this way.  Beck makes up for being invisible on “Paper Tiger” by taking charge on this medley, rapping with gusto and feeling.

"Minus" takes a brief trip back into Beck’s early works before a couple more new songs.  "Nausea" comes next, which always impresses me on stage, an intriguing mix of fired-up energy with acoustic, raw instruments.  "Elevator Music" follows, which never had much stage life, but tonight sounds great as Beck nails the rap and .  The band clearly enjoys digging into some new songs, bringing them to life for the first time.  There’s a junkyard feel to them, which separates them from the record.

The crowd comes to life with the more familiar “Girl” eliciting a big cheer.  Beck then surprises them again with a ripping new song, “Inside Out,” which didn’t make the final cut for The Information (and at this point was still called “Remain”).  I’m surprised just how many new songs they played here!

"Broken Drum" creeps up next.  The way this band played "Broken Drum" will become one of my favorite things Beck has ever done, but it’s not quite clicking at that level yet.  A sort of dissonant growl leads the song, and the dark song feels a little out of place.

Beck then starts his solo acoustic set by doing a short version of “Lonesome Whistle,” which leads to a similarly short version of “Lost Cause” and a pretty “Guess I’m Doing Fine.”  Beck murmurs the opening line of “Satan Gave Me A Taco” in there for some reason too (someone probably shouted for it).  An image of the setlist lists the acoustic set as merely “Lost Cause” and “The Golden Age” (which wasn’t played), so Beck seems to have gone rogue there for a minute.

Next, the dinner table scene!  Always memorable—as a non-musician, I’m impressed at the band doing this.  The band would all sit at a table, with silverware and food, while Beck did his acoustic set.  By the end of it, they would be tapping their forks and plates, adding accompaniment to Beck’s songs.  They usually joined him on “Clap Hands” and one other song.  Tonight that one other song was a cool “One Foot”/”Grinning In Your Face” mix, which Beck even starts singing to guitar instead of harmonica!  (It kind of ends suddenly.)

After that, the set closes out with straightforward runs through “Que Onda Guero” and “Where It’s At.”  In fact, any criticism I may have of this show is that the whole thing feels fairly straightforward.  Like I said, this band had instant chemistry (and would go and record their own album without Beck!), but at this show, with a new bassist and after five months off, they are not quite hitting all the heights.  The new songs sound good, everything sounds good, but there’s a feeling of trying to get it down that pervades this show.  In time, when things become second nature, that’s when this group would take off.

The encore closes with the nightly PuppeTron video, in which the puppets went around the city they were in and filmed a silly video at various local landmarks, raising a ruckus.  (It’s not as entertaining to listen to the bootleg audio as it was to see the films in person.)  Next, a tape of the new “1000 BPM” played, while the band came out in bear suits and danced around, raising a ruckus.  These shows, with the puppets, dinner table scenes, bear suits, always had a cool artistic fluxus-y WTF vibe to them.  The band then closes with “E-Pro” and Beck totally messes up the lyrics.

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Portmeirion, Wales)

September 6, 2014 - Festival No. 6, Portmeirion, Wales [hijacked]

Beck is headlining Festival No. 6, a super scenic festival in Wales.  Seriously, it looks amazing!

Beck has never played in Portmeirion before, and actually has only been in Wales one other time: March 3, 1997.  It was the height of the Odelay tour, and they did a show at the student union of Cardiff University.  Don’t know anything else about the show, but it’s about time Beck returned!



Ten Commandments but I haven’t read them 
One says “I command you to dance” 
Two: tell me what you want to do 
Three: you wanna see me? 
Four: you better get on the floor 
Five: you got a face like a hive 
Six: it’s like a Faith Hill remix 
Seven: your name is Nevins! 
Eight: I don’t give a shit about eight! 
Nine ten eleven twenty 
Fuck your Commandments 
Give me some money!

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