Live Review: Beck @ Palais Theatre, Melbourne

4 April 2023 | 1:19 pm | Claire Dunton

“I’ll see you all back here in 2043 for a full AI show. I can’t even predict what’s going to happen.”

Photo Credit: Brett Schewitz

Photo Credit: Brett Schewitz

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Last night Beck played a sold-out show at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre in St Kilda, where the audience was treated to a career-spanning two hours of music from his extensive collection. Paying homage to his acoustic roots, Beck played guitar and piano, with the minimalist stage lighting enhancing the artist's solo performance and the intimacy of this highly anticipated tour. Gena Rose Bruce opened the show in Melbourne, and Robert Forster will open the Sydney show later this week.

The Melbourne show kicked off the short Australian tour, with only one more to come for Sydney on April 6, followed by Bluesfest on April 7, where Beck will play on day two of the five-day Byron Bay festival. The intimacy of the acoustic show and the exclusivity of this short tour is reminiscent of where the Los Angeles-born and raised musician is in his career, with 14 studio records behind him and 30 years since his hit Loser which catapulted him into fame and solidified him in 90s folklore forever. A standout track from the show was Debra off Beck’s Midnite Vultures album, where he teased the song's introduction before launching into the track, ad-libbing many of the lyrics to have a St Kilda flair and a ‘20s lens to the 1999 cult classic.

Photo Credit: Brett Schewitz

Beck’s most recent album Hyperspace was released in 2019 and set a different course for the artist, dabbling in psychedelic tunes and soundscapes. The track Saw Lightening was one of the standouts, and Beck admits that one of the drivers for creating the album was the desire to collaborate with Pharrell. Beck told NME in 2019 that he turned on the radio, heard The Neptunes, and said, “I want to work with them”. He also notes that he hopes to work with Pharrel again and collaborate more on vocals rather than have Pharrel in a producer position. Despite exploring new genres, Beck’s 2023 tour is well and truly a toast to his extensive discography and the music that earned him lifelong fans. 

Beck was and will always be an artist that needs no introduction, with the 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominee and eight-time Grammy-winning artist synonymous with 90s culture, grunge and, of course, his smash hit Loser. Released 30 years ago this month, Loser catapulted Beck into fame and solidified his place as alternative music royalty. Loser is one of those songs that is as much a feeling and place in time as it was a song, particularly with 90s nostalgia seen so predominantly in fashion and new wave music. Gen Zeders born just outside of the Beck bubble would be forgiven for thinking the Loser video clip is an earnest attempt at a 90s-style clip rather than the defining benchmark that artists of all ages still emulate. 

Photo Credit: Brett Schewitz

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As if precipitating any question that some may have over how relevant Beck is, the artist delighted fans with an AI-written song that he performed, which poked fun at his songs' style and the hollow depth of ChatGPT. Beck encouraged the audience to sing lines from the AI-generated song, which included an outro lyric, “I’m a fighter, I’m a survivor, I’m a Beck”. He also joked to the audience, “I’ll see you all back here in 2043 for a full AI show. I can’t even predict what’s going to happen.” With a future untold, it’s clear Beck has an open invitation to Australia in any show format of his choosing.