The other week I was lucky enough to get tickets to see Beck in his Station to Station gig at the Barbican. And by lucky, I mean front row, center. Near enough to reach out and touch his fine cowboy boots. Not that I did, tempting though it was.
An over-arching cowboy and train theme was present from the very start, where Beck and three actors dressed as cowboys crouched round a faux fire – with the London Chamber Orchestra sitting in the background. The backdrop visuals, provided by Station to Station mastermind Doug Aitken, evoked the dry mid-west of America and the trains that slowly cross its wide expanse. Beck then stood to deliver the first of his solo songs to a rapt crowd, an older number on acoustic guitar.
From this gentle beginning we were given many more beautiful moments to enjoy. From poets reading their pieces on the subject of travel, in many styles – from sedate to near rap. To ethereal chamber music as the cowboys pointed slowly out across the audience. Followed by Thurston Moore, ex Sonic Youth, melting the stage and our ears with classic guitar feedback. Across all of this were scattered more Beck songs, ending with the ethereal Wave.
The show may have been pretty short, just over an hour and a quarter, and it certainly couldn’t be classed as a gig – more of a happening – yet most everyone in the audience left with smiles on their faces and the glow of seeing something different and special. This was one of those moments that make you glad to be in London, a city of many delights that are never easily attained but well worth the effort. Yee haw!