Bluesfest Review: Beck and Sturgill Simpson on a partying Friday night

Beck on the City Stage because the RBC Ottawa Bluesfest continued on the grounds of the Canadian War Museum at LeBreton Flats on Friday night. Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia

Wayne Cuddington / Postmedia

RBC Ottawa Bluesfest
Beck / Sturgill Simpson

Beck got here to get together Friday night, the L.A. troubadour delivering a dynamic efficiency touching on each section of his eclectic profession as a horde of followers turned Bluesfest’s sun-baked garden into a big dance get together.

His crack eight-piece band placing a pose alongside the laser-lit stage, with the flashing neon grid backdrop wanting as if it was lifted from Tron, Beck stood centre-stage together with his guitar held aloft because the thunderous opening riff of Devil’s Haircut got here crashing down round him.

“How ya doing Ottawa?” Beck shouted over the teeming spectators, all elevating their arms to the heavens because the unmistakable slide guitar hook of Loser washed over them.

The catchy refrain, ultra-funky beat and stream-of-consciousness lyrics by some means nonetheless sounded as contemporary and distinct within the flesh Friday because it did when it first soared throughout the radio waves again in 1994.

“Thank you so much for welcoming us and embracing us,” the just-turned 48-year-old Beck instructed the boisterous crowd on his Ottawa debut.

“I’m in the mood for something soulful, a little bit moving. Something to take it a little bit higher.”

When the band didn’t play it scorching sufficient for his liking, Beck took it upon himself to rev up the tempo with Mixed Bizness, the disco-infused hit single from his hard-partying Midnite Vultures album.

He instructed the group to “Giddy up” on the throbbing Wow, from his newest Colors, then busted out the dancey title observe, which he (pretty precisely) described as “psychedelic Michael Jackson,” whereas pulling out his greatest MJ dance strikes.

Always eclectic, Beck confirmed he had been equally adept at maintaining together with his contemporaries with slickly-produced robotic beats, synth sounds and digital bleeps and blips colouring new tunes I’m So Free, Wow and the livid Up All Night, its club-worthy pumping beat with shades of Timberlake.

He took trip to showcase the various different sides of Beck, although, gathering his band alongside the entrance of the stage for some acoustic samplings of the perfect of his again catalogue: the attractive Lost Cause, rendered much more spare than the album model on Sea Change, the haunting Blue Moon, from his Grammy-winning Morning Phase, and the hilariously tacky Debra, with Beck inserting an ad-lib vocal about driving round Ottawa listening to his favorite music on the radio and teasing a tidbit of that tune, Prince’s Raspberry Beret.

By the encore, a roaring model of Odelay smash Where It’s At, Beck had already worn every one in all his influences loudly on his sleeve.

Still, in case anybody missed the clues, he cued all of them up in sequence with riffs on The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever, The Stones’ Miss You, a verse of Once in a Lifetime by the Talking Heads and a rip-snorting take on the Delta blues of One Foot within the Grave from his earliest days as an anti-folk hero.


Sturgill Simpson and his band carry out on the City Stage at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest on Friday night. Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia

Wayne Cuddington /


Making a advantageous instance of Bluesfest’s new pageant format pitting two headliner-worthy acts on the principle stage, early-arriving followers had been handled to a scorching night set from Sturgill Simpson.

The self-professed purveyor of Metamodern Sounds in Country Music — the title of his 2014 breakthrough album — Simpson and his band blazed by means of one other genre-bending set, equally comfy with the earnest ballads, soul-infused heavy blues, heartland rockers and outlaw nation boogie that make Simpson so tough to outline.

Opening with It Ain’t All Flowers, Simpson let free his gritty growl and searing Telecaster licks as his lean, imply four-piece churned up a deep groove seeped in soulful Hammond organ.

The band barely took a breath slicing into The Promise, a cowl of the ’80s new wave hit given the twangy Nashville remedy. Simpson stated solely a fast hiya earlier than that tune broke into the thick funk intro of Some Days from his self-funded, self-released 2013 debut High Top Mountain, with Simpson exhibiting off his scorching electrical guitar licks and carrying influences of Highwaymen Waylon and Willie on his sleeve.

The band — drummer Miles Miller, bassist Chuck Bartels and Bobby Emmett on keys — had barely damaged a sweat by the point they shifted seamlessly into Turtles All the Way Down, the thick blues riffage and chunky beat of Keep It Between the Lines, and the rippling waves of Breakers Roar, from his Grammy-winning 2016 album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.

His cowl of ’60s Stax soul hit You Don’t Miss Your Water, later featured on The Byrds’ important Sweetheart of the Rodeo album, was additional proof each of Simpson’s cross-genre enchantment and his defiance of any handy class the music trade might attempt to apply.

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