Beck : London Royal Albert Hall

Oh, you should have been there...

Oh, you should have been there. Who else but Beck could tackle a two hour solo set at the Albert Hall incorporating covers of Blind Willie McTell, Big Star, The Zombies and Nelly – on four different instruments – and still leave the crowd baying for more?

It starts slowly. Beck lopes on to a dimly lit stage littered only with a Wurlitzer piano, an antique upright piano and a small army of acoustic guitars and strums the intro to ‘Guess I’m Doing Fine’. The solemn spell cast by last years’ epic ‘Sea Change’ clearly still holds him in a vice-like grip.

Satisfied with the sombre mood, he sets to work dismantling any doubts as to

quite how sickeningly gifted he really is.

‘Nicotine & Gravy’ is dispensed with using only a staccato organ riff and an out of control drum machine; The Flaming Lips ‘Do You Realize??’ gets an acoustic upgrade and ‘Where It’s At’ turns into a harmonica-led stomp during which he tries to get the crowd to clap along in time and, sensing disaster, is sent scrambling toward the drum machine. Hey, we’re only human.

“I’ve heard there’s a blues revival on right now, so I thought I’d cash in on it” he growls, before a lacerating bottle-neck stomp through ‘Loser’ to give Jack White nightmares. If that wasn’t enough, he rounds off by bashing out the chorus of Nelly‘s ‘Hot In Herre’ on the piano.

When the undisputed King of Mutant Pop is in this sort of mood, the only thing to do is stare in wonder.

Paul Moody