Los Angeles El Rey Theatre

Good enough for Beck...

“Hey Vicki, how about ‘Animal Wild’”, comes the call from the dark of the El Rey Theatre. With only 150 spectators on hand, fans feel emboldened enough to call out requests at will. And as Victoria Williams points out, she can’t help but at least listen to the catcalls for wanted songs, a trait she somewhat jokingly says that bandmate and husband Mark Olson doesn’t always share. Among those slunk low in the red chairs laid out for the devoted few is America’s favourite genre-hopper Beck, on hand to watch Williams and her six-piece backing band – The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers – segue seamlessly through a series of styles including waltzes, folk, rock and jazz.

Drawing heavily from her new album ‘Water To Drink’, Williams flaps her arms as she sings and beams out at the faithful. In between songs Williams regales the crowd with stories of the tour that this is the last night of, rejoicing at seeing the changing leaves and recent snowfall in Canada and lamenting the direction the upcoming presidential election is headed.

Trumpet, pedal steel, guitars, bass and drums all wrap easily around Williams laidback phrasing on new tunes such as ‘You Can Be’, ‘Until The Real Thing Comes Along’, ‘Lagniappe’ and ‘Claude’. Digging deep into her back catalogue, Williams and crew dust off versions of “My Ally and ‘Crazy Mary’ that gleam like new nearly 10 years after the fact. Williams’ stint on stage goes for the better part of two hours, and she and the band insist on playing one more song ([I]”Just one little old thing”[/I])

even after the crabby venue manager demands from the wings of the stage that they call it a day. Good enough for Beck and good enough to have deserved the couple hundred more butts in seats that would have made this a capacity crowd.

Colin Devenish