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Arts and Entertainment

Beck @ Club Nokia, 11/9

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Sunday night Beck opened in the brand spanking new Club Nokia. Before I launch into the review of Mr. Hansen, I would like to say a few words to the owners of this new club. Firstly I would like to congratulate you on your design. You make a rather large club (housing 2,300 people) feel small and intimate. There is not a bad seat in the house. Also the sound quality is amazingly good. But in order to make the club a bastion of Los Angeles rock music you should do the following. (Club and show review continues below photo gallery)

First and foremost dump the VIP section. It is ludicrous at a rock club. The billowy curtains hiding private cabanas, the vividly patterned wallpaper, the mediocre techno in the background, and most especially the waiters out canapes and smoked salmon. Smoked salmon has no business in a rock club unless it is worn as a garment on stage. For example, a smoked salmon vest or smoked salmon panties would be allowed.

But I digress, tear down the VIP section and instead open it up to the kids who actually want to see the show. Not the suits who are there to be seen and their wafer thin dates, who talk throughout ENTIRE show about their "projects." Get rid of the decor and the canapes and put in an ordinary black bar and pool tables. Maybe a foosball table and a smoking section. Then you'd have a club. A club that would rival others in its class like the Fonda or the Wiltern.

Secondly, dump the TV screens. With such a lovely concert hall you do yourselves an injustice by having the flat screens on the walls. We did not come all the way here to watch the concert on TV. And while I'm in fantasyland, let's scrap the name too. Lets call it the Fig (as in Figueroa). Forget Club Nokia. There is nothing remotely exciting or exotic about that title. Or if you want to get dirty, let's call it The Fig Leaf.

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On this virginal stage, Beck decided that the first song of the evening would be Loser. The crowd went bananas singing, "Soy un perdedor! I'm a loser baby, so why dont you kill me? " at the top of their inebriated lungs. Beck as usual could do no wrong launching from hit to hit to hit in rapid succession. He played every song well, but with almost a mechanically quality that seemed to indicate that he wasn't having much fun. There were no greetings or thanks at the beginning of the song. There was no witty banter of any kind, actually. Beck looked like a man who would be much much happier in the studio with out all the bright lights and hundreds of eyes staring at him in adoration.

To their credit, his band totally shook the house and made up for some of the lack of energy. Most of the energy came from the crowd, who were thrilled to bits at seeing their native son play his greatest hits. The roof nearly came off when the show culminating in the closer Where It's At. But the joy seemed to be lost on the man of the hour. Or he hid his enthusiasm really, really well.

For the encore Beck brought his friend, Ryan, to the stage. I think everyone assumed that this young man in a green jumpsuit and avaitors would be playing an instrument of some kind. But no, he was just there to get down. Ryan danced like a wild man for the remaining three songs of the night. It was as if Beck couldn't bear the attention anymore and handed it off to his buddy for the rest of the night. It worked too. That dude could dance. But why would we need such a distraction? It was almost as if Beck needs to hire a frontman, so he doesn't have to be one. He can quietly return to his studio and write brilliant music, while Ryan distracts us with his leg kicks.