Thursday, October 6, 2005

A dazzling light show. Gyrating musicians. Adoring fans. The circus otherwise known as Beck screeched through town Wednesday night at the Patriot Center at George Mason University with a show that would give Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey a run for its money.

At the center was ringmaster Beck Hansen, the 35-year-old alt-rock deity with thick, shaggy locks, who modeled a black and yellow T-shirt, ink-hued blazer, red shoes and power vocals with a range to rival Mariah Carey’s.

Amid an ever-changing light show, he delivered crowd-pleasers such as “Girl,” “Beercan” and “Devil’s Haircut” with the polish of a seasoned pro. Electric and acoustic guitars, a tambourine and an instrument resembling an organ grinder were no match for Beck’s nimble fingers. He also had two turntables, a microphone and a whole lot more.

The real showstoppers, though, were the rest of Beck’s onstage crew — all six of them. They shimmied and they shook while Beck coolly orchestrated the concert. One band mate, the white-suit-clad Ryan Faulkner, quickly emerged as a star of the show during the opener, “Black Tambourine.” Brandishing a tambourine in the glow of a single spotlight, he careened from one side of the stage to the other and threw air punches a la Mike Tyson.

Not to be outdone, Beck’s lead guitarist, Justin Stanley, often danced along and on more than one occasion slid to the floor with his instrument for added effect. Beck’s DJ, Bunzo Ono, was the only subdued member of the band as he casually spun songs on a raised platform while nodding his head along with the beat.

For “Clap Hands,” the group abandoned instruments for a wooden table and played water glasses, a bowl, spoons and sundry dinnerware while the crowd cheered. Beck strummed a guitar nearby and sang during the spectacle. Beck? Who was that again?

Beck seemed to ignore the sideshow around him for most of the night, but he still managed to casually lead the pageantry and bring the focus back to himself at key moments, lest there be any doubt who was running the show.

After a rousing encore of “E-Pro,” Beck took center stage — with his band in the background — and said simply, “Good night. Thank you very much.” Just like a good ringmaster would.

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