Live Music: Beck with MGMT, United Palace, New York City, 10/8/08

Written by Concert Reviews, Music

Beck @ United Palace Beck could have been a more engaging performer at Wednesday’s United Palace show, but what he lacked in personality on stage, he made up for in song.

The show was the opener of a three-day stand at the Washington Heights venue, and it was hard to tell whether he was tired from touring or simply playing into his persona of the moment. He kept the chatter to a minimum, and often closed his eyes or glanced down at the stage.

Beck, “Modern Guilt” (download)

His restraint somewhat echoes that of his new album, Modern Guilt, which he spent a surprisingly little amount of time showcasing, just playing six songs from it. Rounding out the laid-back feel of newer tunes like “Walls” and “Chemtrails,” he brought out poppier singles spanning his career: “Loser,” “Mixed Bizness,” “Devil’s Haircut,” “E-Pro” and “Where It’s At.”

Beck, “E-Pro” (download)

Known for his eclectic hybrid rock, the setlist boasted Beck’s many strong suits, from the bleeping, scratching synths of the electro-rap “Hell Yes,” to the acoustic lament of “Lost Cause” and the funky “Soul of a Man.”

Though his tours have boasted more elaborate set-ups, the stage lent an especially grand atmosphere, even beyond the already intricate detail of the church. Looking like a television or movie set, there was a large, colorful electronic display for a background, and vintage spotlights pointed at each band member. (The show was being filmed, so as it turns out, it was a set of some kind.)

However, it wouldn’t have taken much for anyone to put on a decent show after openers MGMT, who looked bored by their own set. With such high energy songs, it shouldn’t be a great effort to put on a reflective performance, but after seeing MGMT twice this year, apparently that’s too much to ask. By the time they finally warmed up for the last three tunes, “Electric Feel,” “Handshake” and (of course) “Kids,” they were the night’s true lost cause.

SETLIST:
Loser
Nausea
Girl
Timebomb
Minus
Soul of a Man
Mixed Bizness
Nicotine & Gravy
Que Onda Guero
Hell Yes
Black Tambourine
Devil’s Haircut
Think I’m In Love
Modern Guilt
Orphans
Walls
Missing
Chemtrails
Golden Age
Lost Cause
Lonesome Whistle (Hank Williams Cover)
Where It’s At
Encore: Gamma Ray
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob Dylan Cover)
E-Pro

For more pictures from this show, click here.