Beck, Islington Academy

Beck returns with show suggesting his new album may be where it's at
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The Independent Culture

There were hot gigs all over London last night but this was the must-see show, the one that dragged all the Nathan Barleys over from Hoxton for the evening.

Some of them even looked up from their mobile phones for a few moments when Beck arrived onstage with his current band.

Discarding his black jacket and baseball cap after the opening number "Black Tambourine", Beck settled into his usual gamin T-shirted slacker style for the rest of a set that drew heavily on his splendid new album Guero . Realising that an entire show of unfamiliar material would make for a tough room, he slipped "Devil's Haircut" in early on, but from that point on, he launched bravely into a solid seven-song slab of new songs.

Beck reverts on Guero to the sample-tastic breakbeat stylings of Odelay , stirring all manner of musical flavours into the songs. There's the languid Chicano funk of "Que Onda Guero" itself, the sunny pop-timism of "Girl", the lolloping bass groove of "Go It Alone", and best of all, the gently swaying "Missing". Round about this point, someone in the crowd pleads for Beck to "Play something old!", a demand guaranteed to get short shrift from any questing artist worth their salt. So it proves. One curt put-down later, Beck launches into yet another track from the new album - I think it was "Broken Down" - before relenting and, to raucous acclaim, slipping into the cool electric piano and tambourine groove of "Where It's At".

This proved to be just a momentary let-up, however, as further new numbersIt says much for the new material, however, that the audience found little untoward about these unfamiliar songs. And in the case of "E-Pro", the big fuzzchord anthem chosen as the first single from the album, the warm response suggests Beck may have found a singalong successor to "Loser", "Where It's At" and "Devil's Haircut".

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