BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, a disheveled kid from Los Angeles unleashed a radio anomaly – a hip-hop-folk-blues mélange called “Loser” that reflected the psyches of the Generation X-ers who helped send the song to the top of the alt-rock charts.
Now 47 and still a charmingly rumpled waif, Beck is supporting his 13th studio album, “Colors,” which turns his kaleidoscopic universe down its poppiest road yet.
Taking the stage around 9:30 p.m. Monday for the first of two shows at the Tabernacle (this one was stuffed to capacity; a smattering of tickets are available for Tuesday’s gig), Beck and his rich, seven-piece band toured his musical career for nearly two hours.
From the opening “Devil’s Haircut” to “Hollywood Freaks” (which we think Beck said the band debuted the previous night in Charlotte – it was impossible to decipher his conversation from the back of the venue floor) to the new “Dear Life,” with its coda of Beatles-esque harmonies, Beck provided a healthy range of his sonic palette.
His stage show is magnificent – especially for a club – filled with risers for his band members and spiffy lighting that morphed into geometric shapes during “The New Pollution” and turned into rolling planks of Gatorade green for “Go It Alone.”
Because the rumbling bass obscured most of Beck’s vocals, particularly during “Mixed Bizness” and the percolating title track of his new album, it wasn’t until his mid-set solo, acoustic session that fans could truly hear the honey-wheat tones of his voice.
Beck strummed and whistled through Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues,” before returning to his late-‘90s favorite, “Debra,” which received a boost into the spotlight on last year’s “Baby Driver” soundtrack.
The singer-multi-instrumentalist also shared his affection for Prince with a sprightly cover of “Raspberry Beret,” which turned into a massive crowd singalong.
As he demonstrated during a lively headlining set at Music Midtown in 2016, Beck isn’t going to denounce his hits, even if his creativity lies elsewhere these days. So fans were given the chance to play air guitar to and shout along with “Loser” and “Where It’s At” in between album cuts and the live unveiling of fresh material.
For most of the next five months, Beck and his musical troupe will crisscross the world – allowing others the opportunity to see his constant innovation at work.