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Concert review: Beck wows Columbus crowd

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Alternative-music mastermind Beck had no trouble entertaining the large crowd at Express Live Tuesday night.

CRX opened the show with a 30-minute set of garage rock. Lead singer and guitarist Nick Valensi, who is known for playing guitar in The Strokes, came on stage looking like Joey Ramone. He is tall and lanky with shaggy hair covering his face, but that is where the comparisons end.

Valensi’s voice was smooth and powerful. A hybrid sound of Robert Plant and Billy Squier, it perfectly complemented the music being played.

CRX takes influences from post-punk rock and early ’80s new wave bands like The Cars to create a sound all its own.

Drummer Ralph Alexander was phenomenal throughout the band’s time on stage, pounding the drums with such intensity I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.

During their too-short set, I was so enthralled with the songs being played that I forgot I was there to see Beck. I have to say that may be a first for me. Usually openers are just that: openers. Sure, they’re usually entertaining and rarely terrible, but why you’re actually there is never far from your mind.

The band’s debut album is set to be released next month, and hopefully CRX will return to headline their own show in Columbus in support of it.

From the moment Beck hit the stage in his hipster meets “Children Of The Corn” outfit while his band began playing “Devil’s Haircut,” it was obvious this was going to be a good time.

Plain and simple: Beck is a rock star. And he is the best kind of rock star because he actually cares about his music and he cares about his audience.

For one hour and 45 minutes, Beck held the crowd in the palm of his hand. Whether he was asking them to just clap their hands or charming them with his slinky-sexy dance moves, they were all captivated.

Beck and his band played upbeat hits like “Loser,” “Black Tambourine” and “The New Pollution,” before launching into the melancholy material from his heavy-hearted albums “Sea Change” and “Morning Phase.” While those songs didn’t bring the same electrifying energy, Beck played them beautifully and held the crowd’s attention.

With a quick “Strawberry Fields” interlude it was back to business with “Where It’s At,” and the audience quickly responded. I was a bit nervous as some concertgoers around me seemed in need of immediate medical attention, but it turned out they were merely dancing.

Stopping midway through the song to introduce his band members, it seemed as if the energy was about to get sucked out completely, but the moment was quickly revived. As each person was introduced, the band played a different song. As a result we were treated to a medley of sorts with snippets of Prince, David Bowie and Chic. The party was in full-swing.

Finishing “Where It’s At,” the band departed before hitting the stage once again for a tremendous encore which included, “Girl,”“Dreams,” “Sexx Laws” and his new single “Wow.”

Beck is a showman. An undeniable rock star who puts on a fantastic live show to not only feed his own appetite for the stage, but to also feed the audience’s need for a good time. And what a good time it was.

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