Concert review: Beck Song Reader
- Credit: Archant
Not only did Beck Hanson enlist the King of Cool, Jarvis Cocker, to perform his never-heard-before so-called “album”, he also drafted in Serge Gainsbourg’s daughter Charlotte, up and coming soul stylist Michael Kiwanuka and De Beauvoir’s finest folk singer Beth Orton.
The giddy line-up was enough to entice me along to the Barbican to hear what the cultural centre billed as Beck’s “unique publishing project”, Song Reader.
I really love how the Barbican beefs things up in a really intellectual way, calling this an “experiment in what an album might look like in the digital age”, an album “never before released or recorded” – in other words, a book of sheet music which happens to have been written by a pop star.
But with other musicians including American folk singer Sam Amidon, indie band The Guillemots, beautiful harmonies from The Staves and even comedy troupe The Mighty Boosh, I sat back in my super-comfy large armchair and let their back-to-back interpretations of Beck’s penned songs wash over me.
Joan As Police Woman kicked off the show with her strong voice belting out “Eyes That Say I Love You”, and it was clear we were in for a treat, even more so when Conor J O’Brien gave his gentle dreamy version of “Old Shanghai”
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It was interesting to hear Saint Dude performed twice, once by Franz Ferdinand in more of a rock-style, whereas the slow Hawaiian-influenced version - which I preferred by far - came from the Guillemots.
Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker was the star of the show for me, proving just how far body language and charisma can take you, with his droll dance moves and melodramatic style pulling off “Why Did You Make Me Care”.
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Music was interspersed with poetry and spoken word performances from Kate Tempest, Luke Wright and Simon Armitage, whose beautifully mesmerising “Zodiac T-Shirt” was accompanied by a photographic slide show.
The Mighty Boosh had the audience in stitches with their take on “We All Wear Cloaks”, as Noel Fielding told them the glockenspiel is “the most sexual of all the instruments”.
It’s just a pity the album is theoretical as I’d have loved to buy a copy of what was conjured up on the night.