Beck and Phoenix gave the soon-to-be-over summer concert season a proper sendoff when the two major alternative rock acts performed at New York City’s Madison Square Garden Saturday as part of their Summer Odyssey tour. It was a lively occasion for the New Yorkers who packed the arena to soak in some final feel-good summer vibes before the transition to fall in about two weeks.
Also featuring Weyes Blood, the Summer Odyssey tour was a dream bill of two veteran modern rock titans who are still at the top of their game. Beck closed the event lasting a total of nearly four hours with what amounted to be a satisfactory overview of his adventurous yet consistent musical output. With his charismatic stage moves that recalled James Brown and Prince, Beck ran through his popular material beginning with “Devils Haircut” from his 1996 masterpiece Odelay. The rest of the set was a dizzying journey of genres that he has explored over the decades including indie rock, experimental music, blues, hip-hop, R&B, electropop and country folk—as noted by spirited and at times heartfelt performances of such songs as “Nicotine and Gravy,” “Qué Onda Guero,” “Debra,” “The Golden Age,” “The New Pollution,” “One Foot in the Grave,” “Where It’s At,” and of course “Loser,” his debut hit from 30 years ago.
Some special moments that occurred during Beck’s set included a duet of “Lost Cause” with Weyes Blood, and “Odyssey,” the song he recorded with Phoenix to commemorate their tour; both Phoenix and Weyes Blood joined him on stage for that rendition. Plus, Beck acknowledged to the crowd his connection to New York as he has family based in the Big Apple even though he is from California. He also gave a shout-out to the Beastie Boys who were honored with a street sign in downtown New York earlier in the day.
Prior to Beck closing down the night, Phoenix blasted through with an equally mesmerizing turn, performing familiar favorites from their catalog, including cuts from 2009’s popular Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix album, as well as their most recent album Alpha Zulu; the musical vibe from their one-hour performance bordered on danceable electronic-dominated rock tinged with psychedelia. And like Beck, Phoenix frequently gave the New York audience some love—to the point where frontman Thomas Mars walked off the stage and went into the crowd in different parts of the arena, and then bodysurfed his way back to the stage as the band finished their set with “1901” and “Identical.”
Weyes Blood, the moniker of singer-songwriter Natalie Mering, kicked off the extravaganza with some of her exquisite and dreamy psychedelic indie folk-pop; if you can imagine an amalgam of Stevie Nicks, Enya and Kate Bush, that might describe Weyes Blood in terms of her music and presentation. Her brief but divine set included tracks from Titanic Rising and her most recent album And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow. A highlight from the set was a moving performance of “God Turned Me Into a Flower,” which was accompanied a powerful video montage of archival clips, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s, by filmmaker Adam Curtis.
The New Pollution
Qué Onda Guero
Nicotine & Gravy
Soul of a Man
The Golden Age
Lost Cause (with Weyes Blood)
Odyssey (with Weyes Blood and Phoenix)
One Foot in the Grave
Where It’s At
Too Young / Girlfriend
Love Like a Sunset Part I
Love Like a Sunset Part II
If I Ever Feel Better / Funky Squaredance
Trying to Be Cool / Drakkar Noir
After Midnight (with Clairo)
In Holy Flux
God Turn Me Into a Flower