Washington, DC (April 26, 2018) – Tonight Beck kicks off the U.S. portion of his Colours album tour live at The Anthem. Located on Washington, DD.C. ’s beautiful national Harbor, space will also host Grammy award-winning show opener, New Zealand’s Kimbra playing hits from her brand new album Primal Heart that was released last week.
Walking into The Anthem you are greeted by a large, well-organized security team who come across more friendly and informative than most I have encountered over the years. Before opening doors, there is a helpful explanation of where artist merchandise would be located, as well as which lines to be in to get in fastest if you did not carry a large bag with you.
The venue’s size is comparable to a football stadium. It is beautiful and huge, with three levels all equipped with multiple areas for food, drink and other amenities on both sides of the club.
A little after 6:30 p.m. the doors open for this sold-out show, and music fans begin to file into the venue.
Around 8 p.m. New Zealand electro-pop singer Kimbra set the mood for the night with a rich display of color and powerful stage presence. Having received two Grammy awards already for her work on the Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” in 2012, Kimbra released her third studio album, Primal Heart with Warner Bros, Records April 20, 2018.
The venue lights dim and the crowd erupts as the dark moody rhythms of Kimbra’s “Hi Def Distance Romance” radiate through The Anthem. The music lovers around me sway and gyrate as the “Kiwi” singer/songwriter begins to sing, “here goes another late night call …”
Blue and red stage lighting shine through transparent fabric backdrops accenting Kimbra as she navigates the stage and instrument drum machines in the center. The crafted lighting casts shadows on the band which highlights the moodiness of the music and the venue and gives the show a theatrical vibe.
Kimbra showcases her strong and soulful vocal range by introducing the heavily R&B feeling song, “The Good War”. The keyboards and guitar compliment Kimbra as she sings her powerful chorus, “I’m runnin’ on a heartbeat, I can feel it in my blood flow…” She has a voice that embeds the sound in your mind to where you find yourself humming the tunes later.
While controlling drum modules from a modest stage workstation, more colored lights wash over Kimbra, who is accompanied her bassist Spencer Zahn, and Timon Martin on guitar and vocals, as the crowd soaks in past tracks such as “Settle Down” from her 2011 debut album Vows (Warner Bros. Records).
Guitar melodies cut through the bumping chorus of her song “Like They Do on TV”, as her voice expresses intense emotion-filled lyrical talent. Next, during the song “Everybody Knows”, Kimbra walks and dances across the stage from left to right before returning so her drum machine instruments that are set up center stage.
“This is such a beautiful venue”, the artist stated; “I love coming to D.C.”, Kimbra said as she interacts with the crowd who is grateful for the local shout out.
Unlike her more upbeat 2014 release “The Golden Echo”, Kimbra continues the night’s dark mood with the tribal backing vocals and deep percussion-filled “Top of the World” from her recent Primal Heart release.
Kimbra’s dedicated display of talent and artistic control shows a well-rounded mixture of range and musical growth that only true artists can convey.
“Hi Def Distance Romance”
“The Good War”
“Like They Do on the TV”
“Top of the World”
Beck, is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist from Los Angeles, California. He has released nine studio albums: Mellow Gold (1994), Odelay (1996), Mutations (1998), Midnite Vultures (1999), Sea Change (2002), Guero (2005), The Information (2006), Modern Guilt (2008) and Morning Phase (2014).
Over his career, Beck has received five Grammy Awards and 17 Grammy nominations. The song, “Where It’s At” received the Best Rock Vocal Performance-Male award and the album, Odelay, won the award for Best Alternative Music Performance. Overall, Beck has received 12 awards from 33 nominations.
After a brief intermission, The Anthem’s house music and lights drop and the crowd erupts as Beck walks on the stage.
The venue is engulfed in a vibrant wash of red lights, inlaid with smaller synchronized pulsing white lights resembling the “Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind” movie spaceships. Beck and his accompanying band enters the room and opens with the 1996 mega-hit “Devil’s Haircut” (Geffen Records).
With tambourine slapping, guitar strumming, keyboard and drum smashing intensity, the entire stage is alive with movement. From the animated illustrated backdrops to the two-tier band member setup that the keyboardist, backing vocals and drummer are standing on.
Beck, with his black and white guitar, black fedora and paisley shirt, looked confidently out to the crowd as he sings the popular opener. The crowd sings along, “got a devils haircut in my mind!” as they all move closer to the stage in the sold-out venue.
The opening song is over and Beck asks the crowd, “how you doing tonight?” and everyone starts cheering. The full stage digital video backdrop changes to black and white illustrations of an outdoor mountain landscape. Beck 1996’s award-winning song, Loser” begins.
When the first chorus comes, I hear the ecstatic crowd voices over the volume of the band. “soy un perdedor….I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me?”, they sing.
The song ends. “It’s been a little while since we’ve been here”, Beck says, “it’s been a little too long; we’ve got some catching up to do.” And the band starts into “The New Pollution” from his Odelay album
Sharp silhouette’s of the keyboardist and backing vocalists named “The B53’s”, gyrate in front of turquoise and white geometric shapes now being projected on the digital background.
After each song, the crowd erupts in cheer. Beck gazes out over the crowd and says to the stage staff, “I’ve never played here before, can I get some lights back there so I can take a look at everyone?” He looks around the giant venue and states, “should have brought my camera, this is pretty cool.”
The song, “Wow”, from his recent album, Colours, begins. While I listened to the catchy lyrics, “wow! It’s like, right now It’s like, wow!”, animated drawings of stars, horses and blinking eyes scroll on the background screen.
With backing maracas and tambourine players, Beck, now with a shiny metallic green guitar, begins strumming the extremely bubbly song, “Mixed Business”, from his “Midnite Vultures“ album. This super funky, dance-inducing tune keeps the already energetic crowd bouncing at this sold-out event.
“I don’t know what’s happening right now, but things are getting just little bit weird”, Beck said. “Feels like anything could happen right now”. The crowd screams.
Mid-set, the first track on Beck’s 2017 album, Colours starts and a mix of vibrant colors wash over the backdrop with large black shapes cutting through the images. I can see pockets of people throughout the crowd beginning to dance around during the very energetic song. Washes of white light beam around the room, emulating the sun as the keyboard sounds make you uncontrollably bop your head.
The lights become very dim and Beck dawns his acoustic guitar. “I was thinking about something for the lovers”, he said. He strums his guitar and then stops, then starts singing the lyrics for “Debra” from Odelay, and the crowd reacts with joy! With only acoustic guitar playing, the crowd begins to sing and clap along to the rhythm of the bluesy hit.
The night is coming to a close and Beck, now in a white blazer and grey fedora, starts to play “I’m So Free” from his new album. Black, white, grey and green hexagons bounce around the backdrop screen as the song progresses.
The venue goes black, the keyboards begin to play random notes. Beck says to the crowd, “walking a long long road to Washington D.C, when my eyes came upon the lights of the capital city, I gazed up…” The beginning of the 1996 hit “Where It’s At” begins to play. The crowd is shouting lyrics back towards the stage. “Where it’s at!, I got two turntables and a microphone”.
“How you guys doing?”, Beck said, “not a rock show, how are you doing, I really wanna know how you are doing”. He continues, “someone stole my pants last night,… but that’s life you know? One day you are wearing your pants and then the next someone else is wearing them”.
The night is ending with band introductions and a medley of cover song intros: Dwayne Moore (bass) plays “Good Times” (Chic), Jason Falkner (guitar), plays “Miss You” (Rolling Stones), Roger Manning (keyboards) plays “Cars” (Gary Numan), The B53’s (backing vocals) sang “Once in a Lifetime” (Talking Heads), Chris Coleman (drums) plays “In the Air Tonight” (Phil Collins), then a drum solo starting “One Foot in the Grave” and back into “Where It’s At”.
Many throughout The Anthem are dancing to this well-known classic, bringing a solid ending to this night full of eye-catching and body-moving entertainment. From the stage and lighting production to the artists choice of songs on the setlist, they ended with a feeling of satisfaction.
“The New Pollution”
“Que Onda Guero”
“Think I’m In Love”
“Go it Alone”
“Heart is a Drum”
“Debra” “Raspberry Beret” (Prince cover) / “Lovely Lady” (Kool Keith cover)
“Up All Night”
“I’m So Free”
“Good Times” (Chic) / “Miss You” (Rolling Stones) / “Cars” (Gary Numan) / “Once In a Lifetime” (Talking Heads) / “In the Air Tonight” (Phil Collins) medley that included band intros; ended with a drum solo
“One Foot in the Grave”
“Where It’s At”
Photojournalist: Ken Penn