Having successfully negotiated what appeared to be an inevitable end in the misbegotten land of one-hit wonders after the surprising success of his breakout 1994 single ''Loser," Beck was anointed as a quirky genius, albeit one who was sometimes too clever for his own good.
Then again, being tagged as a weirdly funky white boy may have proved just as confining for Beck as being defined by a catchy slacker anthem. With the beautiful desolation of 2002's ''Sea Change," the Los Angeles singer-songwriter proved he was more than marrow-deep grooves, coupled with the best bad dancing since David Byrne hung up his big white suit.
At last night's sold-out show at
Beck segued into the sunny, blippy pop of ''Girl," a nice complement to an unseasonably chilly night. ''Another rainy day in Boston. The last time we played here it rained," Beck said at one point. ''I promise you sunshine next time."
Of course, no one seemed worried about the weather during a section that percolated with the hip-shaking ''Devils Haircut," the off-kilter hip-hop of ''Que Onda Guero," and ''Loser," with the audience bellowing that song's bilingual chorus.
For a while, it seemed like Beck would keep things upbeat, but then he slipped into ''Jack-Ass," and later, the funereal but lovely ''Lost Cause." They're great songs, but they also slowed the show's momentum, as did a goofy R. Kelly spoof that went on too long. Still, it was a blast watching Beck, who played guitar, harmonica, drums, and harmonium, have his way with songs that showed off such varied influences as Antonio Carlos Jobim, James Brown, and Hank Williams.
Opening the evening was -- well, what was that? It was McRorie, a literal one-man band with keyboards slung from each hip, drum sensors attached to both feet, and four drum pads on his torso. Looking like a crazy Willem Dafoe in a kilt, he played and rapped Sir Mix-a-Lot's ''Baby Got Back," as well as an AC/DC medley of ''Highway to Hell," ''Back in Black," and ''You Shook Me All Night Long." Even those who arrived early enough to witness it probably couldn't believe what they were seeing.