Beck: Mass MoCA was where it was at


NORTH ADAMS -- Beck rocks.

The context here is not in the vein of "You rock because you're cool," or "I rock because I'm cool," or "eating Cocoa Puffs with milk rocks because it tastes so good."

No. Beck Hansen and his band took the stage at Mass MoCA on Tuesday night and absolutely crushed it. Fortunate indeed was the decision to hold this soiree outside, because otherwise, Beck and his boys might have blown the roof off one of those old Sprague Electric hulks.

Beck submitted a 24-song, 118-minute set that showcased the rich array of albums and musical genres he has presented over his 20-year career.

Show of the year in Berkshire County? No argument from this corner.

Tuesday's set list was slightly longer than his usual show, by a couple of songs, including a three-song encore, instead of the usual two numbers. According to Beck, there was a fairly obvious explanation.

"We're going to play a little longer tonight," he told the audience. "Because we just don't get out here too often."

But let's talk about rock and roll.

The California native came out of the blocks like a racehorse on Tuesday, opening with a percussive "Devils' Haircut," followed by "Black Tambourine," "Gamma Ray" (featuring Beck on a sharp blues harmonica), "Modern Guilt" and "Novacane/One Foot in the Grave."


The band ratcheted the energy down a notch at that point, with Beck's lovely rendition of "I Think I'm In Love," from 2006's album, "The Information." In addition, he tacked onto that number a few verses from Donna Summer's 1977 summer hit, "I Feel Love."

If there was any room for complaint, it was that Beck played only four songs from his latest album, Morning Phase": "Blackbird Chain," "Heart Is A Drum," "Say Goodbye" and "Waking Light."

But had he played more, then we may not have heard a guitar-heavy version of "Loser," or a rousing "Hell Yes," one of the great rap songs in music today.

Other highlights: A sharp, smart "Girl," and the great "E-Pro," which topped the charts in 2005.

The encore was the raucous "Sexx Laws," followed by a deliberately cheesy "Debra" and his usual show-ender "Where It's At."

Where it was at Tuesday was Mass MoCA.

A quick word about opening act "Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger," also known, somewhat inaccurately, as "Sean Lennon's Band" (Lennon collaborates with co-writer Charlotte Kemp Muhl.)

They're really good: Heavy guitar work coupled with sweet harmonies and abrupt signature changes. Yes, there is a John Lennon-esque influence to be heard in there somewhere. Is that a surprise?

The highlight of their short set was the band's version of former Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett's "Long Gone." Nice. Your call as to whom that song might refer. I have my own ideas.

To reach Derek Gentile:,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile


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