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Habitations & The Towns We Know (London, England)

September 2, 2014 - Roundhouse, London, England [hijacked]

Beck is playing a semi-private show for iTunes tomorrow at the Roundhouse in London.  I say semi-private, because I believe tickets weren’t sold, but given away; so it’s possible general fans could be there, but it was a tough get.  Also, the whole thing will be streamed live on online so I guess that’s good.  :)

On to the city history!  Beck has of course played in London a TON of times.  I’ll leave off all the BBC/TV appearances to make this a little shorter to read.

1 & 2. November 28 & 29, 1994 - Two shows in London at different venues (Astoria and Splash Club).  Don’t know anything about Splash Club gig, but the Astoria one (the 28th) has a bootleg and a crazy bizarre setlist.  Beck played a large amount of unreleased but normal 1994 stuff like “Maximum Potential,” “Megaboob,” “Touch Of Class,” “Good Stuff,” and the only known version of “Protein Summer.”

3. March 31 1996 - Beck played a solo acoustic gig at King’s College, with the band Papas Fritas.  ”Heartland Feeling,” “Leave Me On The Moon,” cool stuff like that.

4. December 10 1996 Brixton Academy - Back with the Odelay tour, this show was broadcast on the radio so the bootleg is awesome.  :)  

5. March 2 1997 Kilburn National Ballroom - Beck returns to Europe yet again on the Odelay tour, but this time for just two shows.  (There was some odd scheduling on the Odelay tour sometimes.)  Apparently there’s a video bootleg of this show, but I don’t have it.

6. May 10 1997 - Odelay tour still going strong, and Beck returns again to the Brixton Academy.

7. March 23, 2000 Wembley Arena - During Beth Orton’s opening act, Beck came out and they sang “No Expectations” together.  Then during the last song of his own set, Beck got “impaled on the top of Justin Meldal-Johnsen’s bass,’ which hurt pretty bad and he got rushed he hospital, but it was just a deep bruise and no shows were missed.

8. June 25 & 26, 2001 - Brixton Academy again!  I wrote about one of these shows for Pink Noise, the second night which was filmed for the TV.  The first night doesn’t seem to have been bootlegged, but has a cool setlist (“Forcefield,” ends on “Beercan”).

9. April 26, 2003 - Royal Albert Hall - Beck’s solo acoustic tour of Europe.  This show is overlooked because of the two nights later, but this show had a super long setlist (27 songs).

10. April 28, 2003 - Union Chapel - Also a solo acoustic tour, but this one a “secret show” which ended up being filmed in its entirety for TV.  And thus, it’s one of the more famous Beck bootlegs/videos.  Super cool to see Beck play shows by himself sometimes.

11 & 12. August 20 & 21, 2003 - Beck comes back for yet again two more shows at  Brixton Academy, this time with his Sea Change Summer band.  At the second show, they apparently covered The White Stripes “Black Math”!  I believe a bootleg exists of this, does anyone have it to share?

13. March 14, 2005 - Islington Academy - Beck was in town for some Guero TV promotion and did a spontaneous show, announced the day of.  Only room for about 800 people, and sold out instantaneously.  Strange setlist though, almost entirely Guero (just released) and Information (not out yet) (except for “Devils Haircut”, “Where It’s At,” and “Get Real Paid”).  

14. June 1 & 2, 2005 - Hammersmith Apollo - Beck back for the proper Guero tour.  Brendan Benson opened.

15. September 2, 2006 - Information still not out yet, but they came back around for another show.  Girl Talk opened.

16. July 4, 2008 - Hyde Park, O2 Wireless Festival… first festival gig in the city of London.  Morrissey was also there.  

17. July 7, 2013 - Union Chapel - last year Beck was in town for a London Song Reader concert, and did his own show.  Mostly solo, but he did use a piano and bass player for some songs (Vincent Taurelle and Rory McCarthy respectively).  Also Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream came out and they duetted on a Hank Williams and a Rolling Stones song.  Beck also played a brand new song that to this day is otherwise unknown.

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Stradbally, Ireland)

August 31, 2014 - Electric Picnic Festival, Stradbally, Ireland [hijacked page]

Beck takes Morning Phase over to Europe for the first time today.  Over the next two weeks, he will be doing shows in the UK and then western Europe.

Tonight Beck is headlining the Electric Picnic Festival in Ireland.  Though two of the headliners are performing on the same day, and the mighty Outkast are playing after Beck.  (Check this out.)

This is Beck’s eleventh show in Ireland, though he has not played in Stradbally before, so no city history today.  (As I understand it, there would be no reason to play there except for the Electric Picnic festival.)

"The static in your mind leaves you hollow and unkind
With a shock electric wave turns you on”

"A perfect stupid cardboard reject overfed electric comatose riding in the air invisible socks…"

"Pointing a derelict finger at you
Pulling out electric chairs under you
Nowhere to hide your disappointment”

"Ghost electric telephone bones"

"Electric hands gropin’ for a feel
'Cause you need love and some vitamin pills”

"Flamethrower TV dinner electric frozen grin
Dragstrip, bullwhip, rocketship tailspin”

"And if it’s only me who is scared
Strap into electric chairs
Ring the moon like a broken bell”

Pink Noise #5: June 6, 1998 - Saratoga Springs, New York

June 6, 1998 - Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, New York [whiskeyclone]

Beck recorded Mutations over a couple of weeks in April/May, 1998.  He then immediately went out on the road, playing some shows in June, to some of the bigger non-festival crowds of his career.  But since Mutations had not been released yet, Beck did not really have anything to promote, and the shows were freewheeling and fun.  He would return from this June tour and promptly begin recording Midnite Vultures.

This particular concert in Saratoga Springs was sandwiched in between two even bigger concerts, where Beck opened for Dave Matthews in football stadiums.  But this was his own show, and Beck had Ben Folds Five and Elliott Smith along to open for him.  The band, of course, was the guys who did Mutations: Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Smokey Hormel, Joey Waronker, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., and the Brass Menagerie.

My memory of this bootleg is that it is very good—I recall it being a lot of fun and Beck being super goofy, so I’m excited to hear it again! And looking at the setlist today, quite a few of the songs have long been left off the stage (and probably will never return).

The show begins with a funky space jam, as Beck whispers some seductive stuff about his unit (band).  This leads into the band playing a sort of elevator music-y version of the “Loser” intro, while Beck sings the hook from Ahmad’s “Back In The Day.” The spirited “Loser” then ends with Beck doing his Puff Daddy collaboration: “Like a fake ID all the people know I’m steppin’ / Like Chico & El DeBarge giving you a vocal lesson!” and then showing of his (only) “six octave range” as “Novacane” starts.  Just look at this paragraph!  Beck is all over the place tonight, and the show is a blast.

As all this shows, many hints of Beck’s yet-to-be-recorded Midnite Vultures persona shine through tonight, like the ideas were in his head and he just had to get them out.  ”My name is MC Self Help and I’m helping myself to some vitamin-D milk tonight. I prefer mine homogenized,” he announces and one can only lament that MC Self Help didn’t really make it on to Midnite Vultures (or did he? Mmm hot milk, cover you in butter, peaches & cream).

The madness continues: “I want you all to visualize naked dolphins,” Beck commands in the middle of “Beercan” as DJ Swamp scratches up a storm.  ”I wanna defy the logic of all sexx laws!” he exclaims (at this point, just an Ol’ Dirty Bastard reference!), and then the band starts chanting “Whoomp! There It Is.”  I mean.  Come on, now.  The opening of this show is a party.  A wonderfully nonsensical party, but definitely a party.

"Debra" sounds sharp, and the new "lovely lady, girl you drive me crazy" ending is finally in place.  But honestly, I think tonight, Beck oversings the song.  That probably sounds ludicrous because this is "Debra" we’re talking about, and the crowd is eating it up, but singing the whole thing in full falsetto is a bit much, and lacks the usual dynamics.  Soul music is all about building to those moments, not sitting on them the entire song.

Beck then digs out “Electric Music and the Summer People,” an Odelay b-side, though he had recently re-recorded it for Mutations.  New songs on stage are always welcome, and “EM&TSP” was only ever played live a small handful of times (probably under five). That said, the song seems to be lacking a bit of a spark, like the band is focusing hard on it.  Beck drenches the song in harmonica, and Roger adds some cool effects to the song (or maybe that’s DJ Swamp?).

This leads to more summer-y fun, as they break into “Deadweight,” which to this day I’m surprised is not a stage regular.  Released at the end of 1997, this was the new-ish song that people new, and it sounds alright.  Like “Debra” and “Electric Music,” it feels slightly lifeless, especially after the wild opening three tracks.  The show is still a party, but there’s a brief lull here.  ”Sissyneck” doesn’t really help.  The songs sound solid, the band is at the top of their game, crowd into it, but some spark has been slightly lost for four songs.

However, the band finds it again quickly, as they “step into some experimental shit,” as Beck puts it.  That’s right.  ”Diamond Bollocks!”  ”I hope you’re all with it,” Beck warns, “If you’re not, then just eat a hot dog.”  If Beck sounds worried about freaking everyone out with this insane new song nobody has heard before, he should be, because it’s even crazier live.  Joey drums like mad, which the crowd really gets behind, and all the echoed vocals, heavy psychedelic riffs and strange transitions make quite a performance.

After “Diamond Bollocks” screeches to a halt, things slow immensely for another new song, “Nobody’s Fault But My Own.”  I often prefer solo acoustic takes of “Nobody’s Fault,” but the band here really fills it out, and it’s hard to believe they are the same group who just raced through “Diamond Bollocks.”  Beck sings it beautifully too.  His voice on this whole show sounds quite strong.  Beck mentions that they won’t be touring behind the next album, so they wanted to play the songs for them now.  (That said, only “Nobody’s Fault” and “Diamond Bollocks” are played from the upcoming album; though you could also could “Electric Music.”)

Beck takes a quick harmonica “One Foot” break, before the band closes with a run of Odelay songs.  Obviously at this point, they know Odelay backwards and forwards and they can (and do) kill them all.  Often the fun of bootlegs is hearing the rare, the new, the slip-ups, but the best songs tonight are these because of the familiarity and chemistry.  ”Jack-ass” is over too soon.  ”Has anyone seen my milk?” DJ Self Help asks before a powerful take on “Derelict.”

"Thunder Peel" goes out to the "jacuzzi cowboys and hot tub heroes of the Great North Way."  Adding the Brass Menagerie into the fast punk makes a fun, noisy mix.  The fun noise continues into a by-the-numbers but still rowdy "Devils Haircut."

I’m about to rock a beat that’s never been rocked before!
I’m about to kick some rhymes that’s never been rhymed before!
I’m about to flex some muscles that’ve never been flexed before!
I’m about to freak some freaks that’ve never been freaked before!

The band sings this together, and pretty much sums up Midnite Vultures in one verse, if anything does.  Get Beck into a studio ASAP!  Somehow this leads into a frenetic and awesome “New Pollution.”

DJ Swamp then takes the spotlight for his famous and impressive turntable jam, before everything ends wildly on a 12-minute “Where It’s At.” By this point, they’ve started doing some of the “Make Out City” remix live, which I’ve always loved.  It’s interesting how the do it too.  Basically, they play “Where It’s At” all the way through, quite normally and similar to the record.  But then instead of stopping, they just keep rolling into the “Make Out City” jam, with all the horns and exciting craziness.  It’s almost not even a medley, just the same song twice in two different ways (though they are connected).  As the song continues rumbling on, Beck fortifies himself with some vitamin-D milk and introduces the band.  It refuses to end for awhile.  It is massively entertaining, and the crowd is REALLY into it.

This is an impressive show, with a very good recording that gets the excitement across.  Beck and his band in 1997-1998 were as incredible as ever they will be, and they would roll off that time into recording Mutations and Vultures.  This show, coming literally right in between recording the two albums, is special for that timing.

My one minor criticism of this show is that the lack of an album behind the tour (since Mutations wasn’t out yet) seems to have pulled some focus from the show.  Obviously, an unfocused Beck is a fun thing in its own right, and worth hearing.  But I think that kind of focus is what can make a very good show like this one great, or a even a great show legendary.  

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Monterey, California)

Saturday, August 23 - First City Festival, Monterey, California

Once again, this is the first time that Beck has played in Monterey, so no city history to share.

Beck is the headliner of the first night of the First City Festival, an apparently carnival-themed festival.


After tonight, Beck is taking a week or so off, before the tour moves over to Europe.

"I first met you down on Lover’s Lane
The birds were insane, flapping all about”

"Did you ever even think about the first impression that you gave?
To the pigs? To the kids with the hazardous waste”

"You’re the last thing on my list
But you’re the first thing I’m gonna remember
When I wake up”

"In the first act, there was a jester with an apple and a mango and some wine…"

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Troutdale, Oregon)

Thursday, August 21 - McMenamins Edgefield, Troutdale, Oregon

Again, tonight is the first time Beck has played in Troutdale, which is not far outside of Portland.

Also, according to wikipedia, the venue tonight is reportedly haunted:

The Multnomah Country Poor Farm, also known as the Edgefield Poorhouse and Edgefield Power Station, located in Troutdale, Oregon, is supposedly haunted. The construct, built in 1911, operated as a poorhouse, and also housed the mentally challenged, the disabled, and the elderly; since death was common in poorhouses, many people were buried on the property in unmarked plots. The property later served as a sanitorium and a reform school for troubled kids before falling vacant in 1990. It is now a hotel operated by McMenamins restaurant and brewery, and has several restaurants and bars on the property as well as an outdoor stage for concerts. Hotel guests have frequently reported hearing a woman’s voice reciting nursery rhymes, as well as unexplained crying in the building. A woman dressed in white is also often seen roaming around the property.

Be careful if you’re going tonight!


"Learn to see around the edge / follow the avalanche / turn away"

"Love looks away in the harsh light of the day / on the edge of nothing more"

"At the edge of the ledge, something’s said…"

"Take the time to find the edge of where the darkness ends"

"You and I delirious
A curious vice
A half-off price
Running on the edges
Of an amateur delight”

"Smoothing out the barrel and scraping off the edges"

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Redmond, Washington)

Wednesday, August 20 - Marymoor Park, Redmond, Washington

Beck’s short tour of spectacular scenic outdoor parks in the Northwest US/Canada continues tonight in Redmond, Washington (just outside of Seattle).

Beck has performed in a bunch of cities in Washington (Seattle, Olympia, George, Bremerton, Auburn) but this is the first time in Redmond.

Sorry I started this series on this leg, when it’s mostly Beck’s first time in each spot.  This will be more interesting in a few weeks when he hits Europe, and on in the future.


"A switch in my brain / the battery light washing away / gaping at the oceans below"

"Ammunition souls shooting holes in the ozone / widow’s tears washing the soldier’s bones"

"I was born in this hotel, washing dishes in the sink"

"I ain’t washing dishes in a ditch no more"

"Smiler was looking for handouts
Sleeping in an abandoned lighthouse
Down at the minimall, shaking his hat
Washing windows with his bare hand”

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Burnaby, British Columba)

Tuesday, August 19 - Deer Lake Park, Burnaby, British Columbia

Beck brings his Morning Phase tour tonight to Burnaby, playing the Deer Lake Park.  This short tour of the Northwest US consists of all outdoor scenic parks, and looks quite lovely.

Beck has never played Burnaby before.  He has been in neighboring Vancouver a good amount, but I’ll save that city history until he plays there!  :)  

One of my favorite old Beck songs:

I was a brushstroke in the plan
An expendable man
A stepping stone
A house plant
No goodbye, no thanks
Just left to fill in the blanks
Honey, if the shoe fits
You better walk on
'Cause you can be so careless
Always change your mind

Pink Noise #4: March 22, 2003 - Sydney, Australia

March 22, 2003 - Hordern Pavilion, Sydney Australia [whiskeyclone]

Looking back, the Sea Change tours of 2002-2003 feel a little unfocused, in that over that time, Beck did two solo acoustic tours, but also three different band tours with three different bands.  Famously, he first went out with The Flaming Lips, and then in the summer he did a few months with an entirely new band.  But in between there, Beck did a few shows with his mostly classic all-star band, and that’s what tonight is from.

I say “mostly classic,” because the band consisted of Smokey Hormel, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, and Joey Waronker from Beck’s classic Odelay/Mutations/Sea Change/Morning Phase lineups, though this time Greg Kurstin played keyboards.  (I do not recall why Roger Joseph Manning Jr. wasn’t there.)  Kurstin had been with Beck on the Lips tour in 2002 and would stay with him through 2003.  He would later go on to be quite the famous producer in his own right, and played on a few Modern Guilt songs as well.

Anyway this band did just 9 shows, four in Australia and five in Japan, and this night in Sydney was the final Australian gig.  Internet research was lacking on the show (and some clearly incorrect info turned up), but I did learn that Bruce Springsteen was playing the same night, literally right next door at the Sydney Cricket Grounds.  Beck was at the Hordern Pavilion, an old classic theatre, that holds about a tenth of the people the Cricket Grounds does.  A local act, Gelbison, opened Beck’s show (and in fact did all four Australian shows).

Beck comes out and begins with a short acoustic set, “Guess I’m Doin’ Fine,” “Nobody’s Fault,” and an ode to his recent bandmates, a cover of The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??”.  The bootleg recording is muddy and distant and people around the taper cheer a lot, but you can hear Beck fairly ok.  (I’ll share some samples, but don’t have high expectations, please.)  But what is clear is that the audience is utterly enrapt during the acoustic songs.  By 2003, I would say Beck’s acoustic folk game had been mastered and he’s as good as it get; it’s too bad the set didn’t last longer.  Beck tells the crowd Sydney is one of his favorite places.

In another ode to the Lips tour, Beck begins “The Golden Age” by himself, but halfway through the band jumps in.  (This dynamic arrangement originated with The Lips.) I read one online note about the show that said at the point the band joined in, “the stage lit up in brilliant color and made you wish that if only everything were this beautiful, the world would be perfect.”

The band continues with some more acoustic material, sticking with Mutations and Sea Change stuff for the first part of the set.  ”Lazy Flies” reminds me of “The Golden Age,” as it similarly begins quietly, before erupting a bit (or as much as “Lazy Flies” can anyway).

A few more Sea Change songs come next, a good “Lonesome Tears” (though I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten used to hearing it on stage, without the strings) and a sharp “Lost Cause.”  An all-too-quick “It’s All In Your Mind” follows, again starting gorgeous and delicate, before the band puts some power into it.

It’s hard to make too many statements on a show when the recording quality is low, but I’d say that the flow of this setlist is definitely an odd one.  There is a lot of low-key stuff, but little bits of fun try to bust through, like rays of sun through the clouds.

The first mischievous song is an almost unrecognizable “The New Pollution,” in a rare arrangement that certainly did not have a very long life.  Unsure why, though, it seems pretty awesome!  It feels like a dark new wave song or something.  (I’m struggling to place the band/song it reminds me of.)  It’s too bad the recording isn’t better though, this is a fascinating version.

A fairly typical “Hotwax” hits next, but it really seems to get the crowd revved up.  But the setlist doesn’t keep them there, as Beck immediately drops the energy back down for a trio of Sea Change songs: a groovy “Paper Tiger,” an intense “Sunday Sun,” and a laidback “Ship In A Bottle.”  These songs fit together nicely though, as they all have that Sea Change feeling, but with their own individual personalities.

Beck’s blues guitar leads off “Loser.”  I really dig Beck’s electric blues guitar jams before “Loser,” but tonight the intro is very short, and the whole song seems a little tired.  The band then (finally) dips into Midnite Vultures, tackling “Broken Train.”  ”BT” didn’t have a very long life on stage, only really showing up on the Vultures tours and a few times afterwards in 2003.  ”Tropicalia” also has a bit of that tired vibe I picked up on “Loser,” but ironically, it really works for this song!  Beck whispers the vocals, in a sort of hushed croon.  The band slow dances behind him, not the normal sharp bossanova groove, but a smoother, more leisurely flow.  

The band continues with the mellowness, doing “Already Dead” and “Jack-ass,” before Beck reminisces about the rowdy New Year’s gig they did in Sydney a few years earlier.  (He tells a story about a young girl throwing up.)

Finally, the band gets to a series of upbeat, energy songs, keeping the mood up for to end the show.  A run through of “Novacane” gets to a fun “Nicotine & Gravy,” which the crowd seems to LOVE. They also get behind “Milk & Honey,” and now I’m convinced that Sydney is a very Midnite Vultures sort of place.  Beck’s showstoppers, “Where It’s At,” “Devils Haircut,” and “One Foot In The Grave” close the show on a high.

This bootleg is hardly necessary, only for completists or people who were there, but that’s mainly due to the sound quality.  As I said earlier, the show had a bit of an odd flow to it, not really getting much steam until the final gambit of songs.  That said, I find the arrangements of “The New Pollution” and “Tropicalia” above quite intriguing and wonderful, and there’s nothing wrong with a mellow vibe sometimes!

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Morrison, Colorado)

Beck is playing the legendary Red Rocks tonight!

He has played Red Rocks twice before:


1. May 22, 1997 - deep in the Odelay tour, they played at Red Rocks, just 3 days after a show in The Netherlands.  No breaks back then!  Beck was pretty ramped up though, and did a lot of hyped-up motivating, it’s kind of fun.  (There’s a noisy bootleg.)  Dr. Octagon (!!) and The Cardigans opened.

2. June 14, 2003 - this was during Beck’s Sea Change summer tour.  Shows were like a long rock medley, more or less, though with an acoustic set in the middle to break it up.  Dashboard Confessional and The Black Keys opened.

"the red lights going round like insanity sirens"
"code red Cola War conformity crisis"
"Code Red: what’s your handle?"
"red tape rivals recycling bibles"
"don’t take your red ribbons off / you’re about to make a fool of yourself"
"roll out the carpet and it better be red!"

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Salt Lake City)

One thing I’ve been doing over in the wc facebook group is, on the days of new shows, taking a look at what Beck’s concerts in the past have been like in that night’s city.  I thought I’d start putting them on the web now, here.

Tonight Beck is in Salt Lake City, Utah!

Beck’s Salt Lake City history:

I know very little about these shows—Utah bootlegs are non-existent as far as I’m aware.  (Sometimes these posts will be more interesting than others.)

1 & 2. April & June 1994 - Beck played a small club called DV8 twice. As I understand it, that first tour in April was in small venues that just couldn’t hold the crowds for a big-time MTV star. So Beck returned to a number of the cities to play there, just a few weeks later in June.

3. October 1996 - Odelay tour, a historic venue blandly called the Horticulture Building.

4. April 2000 - Vultures tour. Setlist went up on (as it did for most of the tour). Apparently two people from the audience were brought up on stage to sing “Satan Gave Me A Taco” during the acoustic set.

5. August 2002 - solo Sea Change tour with Smokey. Out of these 20 shows, I think 18 have circulating bootlegs, and this is one that never turned up. It was a smaller venue than normal for this tour, 550 people.

6. November 2002 - Sea Change tour with Flaming Lips.

That’s it, Beck skipped SLC on the Guero, Info and MoGu tours; tonight is his first return in 12 years.

If anyone was at any of these shows (esp the early ones!) please share memories! computergirls [at]

"There’s no relief, no salt in the sea"
"Stole my genome from the salt of the earth" 
"Landladies turn to pillars of salt"
"Salt in the wound making me blue"
"All your hopes can be derailed / no salt in the seas you’ve sailed"
"All I’ve got left is the taste of salt in my mouth"
"Salt on the wound of what has gone too far"

Pink Noise #3: July 21, 1996 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

My main reason for doing this little series was to force me back through my Beck bootlegs again, many of which I haven’t heard in a long while, and give them another listen with a more critical ear and more historical perspective.  So of course, the next show I randomly pulled was what could very easily be considered the face-meltingest, blazing-hottest Beck concert of all time.

July 21, 1996 - Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands [Hijacked Flavors]


Odelay was released in June 1996.  After a few warm-up/promo type shows, Beck went over to Europe in July, kicking off a tour that would last more or less for 15 straight months.  This long tour was legendary, popular, exciting in every way.  Most of all, along with the album of course, it made Beck a huge star.  This Amsterdam show, though, was early days, just their twelfth show on the tour, smaller and rawer.

"We have lowered the anchor in the musty sewage of this raw town. We have dropped our anchor and placed our faith in the heathen loins and the salty air. We have dropped our load on a passage of mystery! On a road of phantoms and moans! Presently, we will settle in for awhile."

That’s what Beck says as he walks on stage.  (He keeps up the amusing talk between songs, as we’ll see and I’ll transcribe.) The band starts with a trippy version of “Fuckin With My Head,” a great opener, in which Beck’s harmonica almost (but not quite) turns into “One Foot In The Grave.”

"Devils Haircut" comes next, and paired with "Head," it just sets the show on fire right of the bat. The guitars are noisy, drumming incrediby tight, energy unmatched. In 2014, this song can still slay, but everything you hear in "DH" on stage today was born right here, in July 1996. And listening to this 18-year-old version is still as exciting as ever.

"We woke up in Antwerp, in the refuse of Antwerp, basking in the glow with the hollow teeth and our toothless mothers. O you brutes! We’d like to tame you yet!"

"Novacane" continues the intensity.  The bootleg, I should add, has been around awhile, since back when bootleggers sold shows with art and gave them names (this was was entitled Electric Music For The Kool People).  I believe it is a soundboard recording, and it sounds great.  Disgustingly thick bass, clear drums, swirling guitars—if anything sometimes the band drowns out Beck on some of the noisier songs.

A full band “Pay No Mind” follows, calmer perhaps, but still tough, rugged, and electrifying. Beck continues the evening’s sailor theme, by giving the finger to the “ship captain as he pulls up the main sail,” as the band builds and builds, bringing a huge wall of sound to the song. It is easy to focus on the brand-new Odelay songs on this recording, but the older songs tonight (“Pay No Mind,” “Beercan,” “Rowboat”, etc.) have not ever sounded better.  

"Cast off your weary tongues! Embark now with us, once again, and put your faith in the same song we have plucked from the loins of the sea man. From the great sea loin that hangs stifled among the icebergs of the Bering Strait!"

"Loser" comes out roaring too. In fact, that’s my favorite thing about this show—it roars with a rage, a small 5-man garage band of the best musicians, heading out with something to prove. Conquer the world! Later in the tour, they would perfect, adding more brilliant sounds and subtlety, but these early shows were still pure determination and fire. "Minus" naturally comes next.

Beck then calms everything down for the short acoustic set: “Truckdrivin Neighbors,” “No Money No Honey,” and, after someone shouts for it, “Puttin It Down”. (Remember these songs? They feel so old right now.”) The acoustic set is only 3 songs in 5 minutes, but that’s fine in a show like this.  Get back to the band, as quickly as possible. Which Beck does by introducing them:

"This is Showboat right over here on the bass.  Over here, we’ve got Hound Dog Mondel, Mr. Teen Beat himself. Up here, holding the reins on this train of mangey ponies, we’ve got the one and only, no minus or plus, no in-between or outside, the, the only Stagecoach playing the sticks! And over here, the one who plays the electrified stick like no-one else, we’ve got Smokestack Jackson!"

To clarify: the band was Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Showboat) on bass, Theo Mondel (Hound Dog) on keys, Joey Waronker (Stagecoach) on drums, and Smokey Hormel (Smokestack Jackson) on guitar.

The intros lead into a sweet full-band “Rowboat,” which needs to make a comeback in a big way now, in 2014, with the Morning Phase band, which includes JMJ, Joey and Smokey.  But I digress…

"Where’s It’s At" comes next, an interesting song to hear in retrospect.  The song would shortly become an epic showstopper: long, dynamic, wild, crazy fun.  But at this point, it’s played almost straight, a basic, tame 5-minute version in the middle of the set.  The song had definitely not made it’s mark yet (on the audience, Beck himself, the band, or pop culture even).

Beck makes up for this tameness immediately, with JMJ asking if everyone is “ready to go mental!”  Beck explains that they picked up a “virus, a seaborne disease-not really scabies but something close-called TECHNO.”  ”We’re now trying to purge ourselves of this foul substance,” he adds. The band then plays a crazy ’90s techno jam in which Beck chants “she fucked me up the ass” repeatedly. (That’s right.)

There’s no other way to go from that, but to end this show spectacularly.

"New Pollution" and "Jack-ass" start off the ending, and make a great combination.  A hyper "NP" feels better formed for the stage at this point, but the rawer "Jack-ass" is my favorite Odelay track of the night.

"The deck of the ship needs swabbing! Needs some new shellac on it! Thanks mate! We’ve had a great time, we’re gonna leave you with a song called ‘Beercan’. Pardon my speechifying between songs.  It’s a little hot up here."

"Beercan" starts out pretty typical, but becomes a quite lengthy jam. The ending sounds to me like they weren’t sure how to end it, they’re still working on that, but that’s the fun of it.  That leads into one of the earliest full-band versions of "Debra" out there in bootleg land.  There are a couple of older weird solo ones, but this is how the band started with the song. It feels faster, maybe slightly less seductive and skanky, but still a full-on slow jam in every sense.  The song would grow a lot before ending up on Vultures in a few years.  But it was bootlegs like this one that helped make the song so popular, which probably even led to the whole Vultures album itself.

"High 5" makes a hot pair with "Debra," the song coming a little harder and more wicked than expected.  Always enjoy hearing full versions of the song on bootleg.  I get the sense that they initially thought "High 5" would be a showpiece, but "Where It’s At" became popular and epic, and that song took over.  The heaviness continues as the band closes by breaking everyone’s face on the sweet sunshine of "Mutherfuker," ending one of the most memorable Beck bootlegs ever.

I’ve been to the Paradiso in Amsterdam, actually, it’s such a cool small venue. (I didn’t see Beck there.)  I haven’t been able to find out much about many of these older non-US shows; like was there an opening act? Reviews in local papers? Write in if you have any info computergirls [at]

'Til next time

Pink Noise #2: August 28, 2002 - San Francisco, CA

First, a note: I decided to call this series “Pink Noise” instead of “The Beck Bootleg Pile” to be a little more elegant. But the result is still the same—me reaching into my pile of bootlegs and sharing what I find.

August 28, 2002 - Palace Of Fine Arts Theatre, San Francisco CA [whiskeyclone page]

After touring most all of 2000 behind Midnite Vultures, Beck more or less took 2001 off.  He did six weeks of festivals in Europe in 2001, but by the time we get to August 2002, Beck had not really hit the States in almost two years.  Sea Change was finished, but was not to be released for a couple of months.  This tour, then, was seemingly to get re-acquainted with the audience, get back out there, have some fun.  

Beck played 20 shows that August, in a giant loop road trip around the United States.  There was no band, though Smokey Hormel went with him to help out.  As a whole, the tour was kind of awesome; but on a micro level, the individual shows themselves could be somewhat bizarre, and this night exemplifies that.

August 28 was the first of two nights in San Francisco, and the second night was filmed and 30 minutes (I believe) were aired on MTV.  This night though, we have a nicely clear bootleg recording from the audience.  (And check out the great artwork above by our friend Adze.)

"It’s gonna get heavy.  Just… stifling.  Then we’re gonna get naked."

So basically, this show starts out nuts.  Beck chats for a few minutes, starts “Cold Brains” for five seconds, chats for a few more minutes, makes up a lengthy (but hilarious!) musical talk about how poignant he’s going to be, flirts with someone in the audience, drinks a tasty blue beverage.  He finally gets to “Cold Brains” sixteen minutes (16!) after he stepped on stage.  

The whole first hour of this show was like this, quite unfocused: Beck follows songs with five minutes of storytelling, some songs fall apart (“Bottle Of Blues” for example), he jokes with Smokey and the crowd, etc.  Your level of tolerance for this may vary.

But then something shifts.  Beck suddenly focuses down, and the rest of the show borders on stunning.  Beck finds a better balance of serious songs with his stories.  He starts by ripping off a crazy good run of two new songs, “Lost Cause” and “Lonesome Tears,” followed by 3 terrific blues performances of “Nobody’s Fault” (on the harmonium), “Kangaroo” and a jaw-dropping “Devil Got My Woman.”

And then following all that, Beck moves over to the keyboards and he & Smokey follow it up with a 2-man rendition of “Nicotine & Gravy”.  I mean, come on!  I would not expect that song to work so stripped down.  But it so does.  Smokey plays a groovy bass, Beck is all over the place on keyboards, and the drum machine is going.  The whole things flows so easy, seductively.  This minimal nature brings out the bluesiness buried in its groove.

From there the show winds up through four more new Sea Change songs (“I wanted to make a record that puts people to sleep,” Beck tells the crowd) and a couple more covers.  A majestic “Round The Bend” and an impressive “Sunday Sun” come off the best.

The Beck Bootleg Pile #1: June 26, 2001 - Brixton Academy, London England

One thing I’ve been needing to do is to go through my pile of Beck concert tapes and cd-rs and downloads.  So whenever I do, I thought I’d try to share some of them here.


The first one I grabbed today is a bootleg from June 26, 2001 in London.  It was the second of two nights at the Brixton Academy, and an hour of the show was broadcast on the BBC.  (That hour is all I have on the bootleg.)  The sound quality is very good because of the broadcast, but I won’t pretend it’s the most exciting show ever.  But naturally, it has some things worth highlighting.  And turns out a bunch of the videos are floating around the web!  Enjoy!

Beck - Acoustic Blues 6-26-2001 Brixton by becklos

2001 was a light year for Beck, but in the summer he got most of his Midnite Vultures band back together and went out and hit a ton of the European festivals.  There were a handful of side shows and this was one of them.  Because there was no album to promote, they played a lot of different things: blues, Bowie, some random One Foot songs, stuff like that.

Beck - Diamond Dogs Brixton Academy by becklos

My favorite song here is probably this “Milk & Honey”:

Beck - Milk and Honey Brixton Academy by becklos

Beck’s band here was:

Justin Meldal-Johnsen - bass
Roger Joseph Manning Jr. - keys
Lyle Workman - guitar/banjo
Victor Indrizzo - drums
Jon Birdsong, David Brown, David Ralicke - The Brass Menagerie
Johari Funches-Perry, Glenys Rogers - backup vocals

Nikka Costa opened the show (who would later marry Justin Stanley, Beck’s guitarist in 2005-2006).

Full band “Nobody’s Fault”s are always a joy to hear, and I wish they happened more often, especially when they were as dreamy as this:

Beck - Nobody’s Fault Brixton Academy by becklos

The BBC broadcast/bootleg was “Farewell Ride” / “Novacane” / “The New Pollution” / ‘Diamond Dogs” / “Loser” / “Milk & Honey” / “Nicotine & Gravy” / “Beautiful Way” / “Nobody’s Fault” / “Where It’s At” / “Minus” / “Sexx Laws” / “Devils Haircut”

Song Reader album

So I know I’m late on this, but first, hi!

Second, Beck is releasing an album of Song Reader songs by various famous musicians.  It will be available on iTunes tomorrow (or today in Europe), and the CD comes out tomorrow.  Vinyl comes out in a couple of months.  Buy it here.

Third, basically what happened here was last November, I went to Beck’s Song Reader concert in LA with the orchestra.  It was awesome!  But it felt like a good end point for me, after a full year of blogging all the Song Reader covers I could find.  :)  And also, Morning Phase/Beck’s tour came out afterwards and that took my attention.  

But I’m glad that Song Reader is still in Beck’s mind with this album; though I’m CERTAIN that none of the covers will be as great as what you all did.  (Even Beck’s track.)  You all are the spirit of Song Reader, not Jack White and Norah Jones.

Fourth, I may turn this tumblr into a bit more of a repository of stuff/info/things that I don’t have a place for on  I’ll try to use it more often though, for sure.

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