Beck loses the 'Loser' label in Atlanta

Live review: Beck with The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, July 22

Who could have predicted that Beck’s “Loser,” released 20 years ago, would be the launching pad for one of today’s most respected artists? Not many. That is, as you’re aware, exactly what has happened. Touring in support of his latest critical success Morning Phase, Beck has won the adoration of fans and critics alike.

So it was with great astonishment that he opened the show with – not a selection from the new release, as fans expected – but a fierce and fiery version of “Devil’s Haircut,” from 1996’s Odelay. The fans, now in an immediate frenzy, were ready for more. Beck obliged with “Black Tambourine” and “The New Pollution,” two big rocking tunes.

Beck is a smooth operator and was enjoying this night as much as the biggest fans in the audience (if not more). His fluid, sometimes jerky moves would be explained if he were, in fact, the love child of Mick Jagger and the Blues Brothers. His dancing and fist pumping were infectious. This is a fun guy and – with apologies to Nick Lowe – may be the new Jesus of Cool.

Decked out in black jeans, a striped shirt, black leather jacket and hat, Beck has not changed much from that 24-year-old we met in 1994. When he finally got around to playing new stuff, the crowd was invested. Knocking out several new tracks, the night unfolded into a realization of the tale of two Becks. Morning Phase is so different from his earlier work, but so excellent. Not better, just different. It’s a mature sound that was really not expected. These new songs translate well in a live setting, mainly due to Beck’s incredible confidence and stage presence. Just about every track off Phase is a thing of beauty.

During his classic “Think I’m in Love,” Beck segued into Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” as if it were his song to begin with. As the set came to a close, band members got into a for-fun brawl onstage and were falling over each other. Beck strung police tape across the front of the stage and exited with laughing bandmates. Upon their return, Beck tore down the tape and broke into “Sexx Laws.” Next, what sounded like a classic R&B tune with Beck pushing the falsetto was, in fact, “Debra” off his Midnight Vultures from 1999. The encore ended two songs later with an extended jam of “Where It’s At” (“I got two turntables and a microphone”). Every fan with a heartbeat inside the Fox was singing this chorus. This show is evidence that Beck has only just begun to be a creative force in the world of music.

Opening the show was The GOASTT (The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger), Sean Lennon’s project with girlfriend (and Atlanta native) Charlotte Kemp Muhl. Lennon repeatedly told the crowd how psyched they were to be playing the Fox. Lennon no doubt suffers comparisons to his father (The BeatlesJohn Lennon), but he appears to be more of an amalgam of his father and his mother (Yoko Ono), in looks and in sound. Fresh off the release of their “first real album” Midnight Sun, Lennon and Kemp Muhl, joined by a full band, have created a fascinating set of songs, harkening back to the psychedelic era of rock music in the late sixties and early seventies. Some songs sound reminiscent of The Beatles, but there’s also a Pink Floyd vibe going, especially with the set closer and Syd Barrett cover “Long Gone.”

After performing a new tune, Lennon told the crowd, “That was from our new album that came out this year. Check it out if you're into this stuff.” Any music lover – especially a lover of avant-garde and/or psychedelic pop – should check out Midnight Sun. Lennon showed off some top-notch guitar slinging and a beautiful voice. The harmonies with Kemp Muhl were perfection. For those Atlantans sauntering into the Fox after The GOASTT left the stage: Your loss.

For full set lists, visit