Beck at Trinity College, Dublin, on Sunday, July 3rd 2022
Terms like “pioneer” and “innovator” are thrown around like confetti in the music press but across an all-singing, all-dancing 32-song set from the 51-year-old songwriter, it was hard not to notice how much of today’s pop music sounds like records Beck was producing in the 90s.
Irish shooting star CMAT warmed up the crowd with an impressive set of country-tinged pop bangers. Her throwback sound owes as much to the Manic Street Preachers in their 90s pomp as it does to such greats as Roy Orbison.
Ex-Strypes man and Paul Weller guitarist Josh McClorey adds some juicy licks to proceedings as CMAT whips the crowd into gear with her infectious personality and even more infectious melodies, with songs such as Every Bottle (is My Boyfriend), No More Virgos and Nashville highlighting why CMAT is one of the most exciting acts in Ireland today.
By the time final track I Wanna Be A Cowboy, Baby! rolled around, it was obvious that CMAT was born to appear on such stages. She will no doubt be appearing as the headline act in Ireland and elsewhere in the very near future.
Following the country stylings of CMAT, it was appropriate that Beck arrived on stage with just an acoustic guitar for a four-song solo set that included covers of Daniel Johnson and The Korgis’ Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometimes. This acted as the perfect interval before the band joined Beck on the two-level stage.
What followed was a tour de force performance complete with costume changes from one of music’s great showmen. Beck eschewed the temptation to fill the set with tracks from his latest album ‘Hyperspace’. Instead, half the set was drawn from three albums: ‘Odelay’, ‘Colors’ and ‘Guero’, with the latter surprisingly featuring most throughout the set.
The stunning opening salvo of Mixed Bizness and Devil’s Haircut set the pace for the final night of Beck’s European tour. It appears to be as much a party for the man himself and the band as anyone else in attendance as he shimmies across both levels of the stage, doing his best to make Sunday night feel like a Friday.
Dreams and Colors have extra oomph in a live setting and will no doubt have fans revisiting Beck’s 2017 release. Classic tracks such as New Pollution, Loser and Where It’s At invoke the expected collective delirium while Beck’s collaboration with Gorrilaz, The Valley of The Pagans, is an unexpected highlight.
It speaks volumes about the quality of Beck’s back catalogue that even when the deepest cuts arrive, there is little if any dip in quality. Perhaps Beck is the most underrated big act in the world. On tonight’s evidence it would be hard to disagree. This was truly exceptional.