BECK at the Sony Centre, Friday, June 27. Rating: NNN
In the six years since Beck's last Toronto performance, bone-rattling dance music has swept into the mainstream. Meanwhile, the alt-pop star is touring behind his moody, psychedelic folk 12th album, Morning Phase and, as he told the sold-out crowd at the Sony Centre, he knows some critics find his latest musical direction "boring."
"You shouldn't be afraid of the quiet things," he insisted. "It shouldn't be an arms race to fill up every sonic square inch of space."
Not that Beck has ever had a problem doing that. He and his six-piece band (the studio musicians who worked on Morning Phase) opened with a barrage of his biggest and funkiest hits - including Devil's Haircut, Black Tambourine and Loser - and proceeded briskly through his back catalogue with an enviable arsenal of kooky synth sounds and samples before getting to the material off his latest release.
Low-key songs such as Waking Light and Say Goodbye sounded as big and energetic as everything else thanks to four acoustic guitars, a banjo, plus electric bass and drums. It's clear age is catching up with him: he refrained from showing off his falsetto but nonetheless tackled a cover of Donna Summer's I Feel Love and attempted a few moonwalk-y moves despite a recent injury.
Even when he wants to be quiet, Beck can't help but sound loud.