Where It's At: Beck with the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl

Like Danny and Sandy recount in their iconic Grease ballad, there’s something exceptionally magical about summer nights. This especially rings true in Los Angeles, when the Hollywood Hills become draped in the warm hue of our extra-special sunsets, and the day’s desert heat vanishes with the cool 8 o’clock breeze. On a particularly picturesque evening this July 6th, Beck performed at the Hollywood Bowl accompanied by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It was a feat of L.A. pride: the native Angeleno had returned to his hometown, joined on-stage by some of our city’s most talented instrumentalists at one of the most renowned venues around.

Beck at the Hollywood Bowl – By Farah Sosa on behalf of the LA Phil

Jessica Pratt rang in the night, whisking the audience away with her folky bossa beats. Performing mostly songs from her newest record, Here in the Pitch, the L.A. based artist wowed with the unique and ethereal nature of her songwriting.

From older couples to full-on families, the sea of fans nestled into their seats, and once the shades of the fleeting day had given way to the night, it was time to start the show. Phil members in matching white tuxedos approached from either side of the stage. Instruments were tuned, and with a tap of his baton, conductor Steven Reineke welcomed concertgoers with the progressive build of “Cycle,” which seamlessly transformed into the swells of “The Golden Age” as Beck crossed the stage with his acoustic guitar.

Beck with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl – By Farah Sosa on behalf of the LA Phil

The cohort enveloped the crowd with each sweeping melody, in a breathtaking moment of surreal sonic purity that made you wonder if this is how music was always meant to be listened to. Beck reflected on this sentiment in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Daily News.

“You know, we’re kind of in a reductive time (in music)… this time of DJs and electronic-backed music, whether it’s even a band anymore. So this kind of feels like this luxurious indulgence, just having a huge amount of people in this effort to make a sound.”

With each track on the docket, we were immediately drawn in, welcomed into a lush landscape of Beck’s own creation. After touring with Phoenix last year, Beck is departing, temporarily, from the guitar-heavy alt-rock and bass-driven grooves he’s better known for. This summer, he’s traded them in for the winding compositions found on albums like Sea Change and Morning Phase. Originally arranged by Beck’s father, David Campbell, tracks like “Lonesome Tears,” “Wave,” and “Paper Tiger” truly came to life with the symphony of the philharmonic, unfolding before the audience layer by layer.

The setlist spanned a majority of Beck’s discography, ranging from Françoise Hardy inspired Mutations deep cuts to movie soundtrack specials like “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime” from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Roma’s “Tarantula.” Backed by the LA Phil, Beck is one of the only artists I know that can cover Scott Walker and completely capture his essence, perfectly performing “Its Raining Today” and “Montague Terrace (in Blue)” as if possessed by the spirit of the musician himself.

Beck was in his element, wiggling about the stage as he charismatically cracked jokes in between rock-you-to-your-core compositions, sprinkling in some lighthearted fun with tracks like “Tropicalia” and “The New Pollution.” Before the Philharmonic’s 90-minute cap timed out, Beck proved that Los Angeles was really “Where It’s At,” leading the audience through a groovy call and response as they took to their feet, echoed his words and clapped their hands along with the beat.

Once the Philharmonic had dispersed, Beck was left on stage to his own devices. With a harmonica in hand, Beck weaved through the Phil’s empty seats, dishing out a solo rendition of “One Foot In The Grave.” Accompanied by Jason Falkner, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Joey Waronker and Justin Meldal-Johnson —the band that played on albums like Sea Change, Morning Phase and Mutations—Beck ended the night with hard-hitting fan favorites “Devil’s Haircut” and “Loser.” The concert’s final moments saw the thousands in attendance erupt in celebratory enthusiasm, passionately singing the closing lines to “Loser,” like a scene ripped straight out of a movie.

Performed with the Philharmonic, Beck’s ornate symphonies had the opportunity to fully take shape, flourishing in undulating harmonic purls that expanded through every inch of available space at the Hollywood Bowl. Beck is set to continues his orchestral tour throughout the summer, performing with some of the country’s finest like The Philadelphia Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra, wrapping at the end of July with two performances at Carnegie Hall accompanied by the Orchestra of St. Lukes.

Beck Tour Dates

07/10 - Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre with Berkeley Symphony

07/23 - Lenox, MA @ Tanglewood with The Boston Pops Orchestra

07/25 - Philadelphia, PA @ The Mann Center - TD Pavilion with The Philadelphia Orchestra

07/27 - Vienna, CA @ Wolf Trap with National Symphony Orchestra

07/29 - New York, NY @ Carnegie Hall with Orchestra of St. Lukes

07/30 - New York, NY @ Carnegie Hall with Orchestra of St. Lukes

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Last updated: 23 Jul 2024, 10:56 Etc/UTC