THE buzz has been rapidly building about 19-year-old musical prodigy Sahara Beck for a number of years.
There has been several quality EPs, one acclaimed Bluesfest performance at Easter and then last month one hell of a sophomore album called Panacea dropped.
After walking out of Beck’s show at Lizotte’s last Saturday night I can safely scream her name from the rafters. This girl is good. Damn good.
For someone so young her ability to skip between musical genres is impressive. Like a musical magpie she seems to borrow a sound there, a rhythm here, to create something truly stunning. Jazz, blues, folk and rock all melded together in a concoction that doesn’t forget pop sensibility.
But its the voice that truly sets Beck apart. And there was no fear at testing its boundaries from the very beginning. Beck obviously loves theatrics. She developed her initial love of singing from watching Mary Poppins after all. Lizotte’s theatre provided the ideal opportunity for the curly-haired Queenslander dressed in wide-legged trousers to perform.
When simply speaking into the microphone Beck seemed shy, especially given the majority of the audience was twice her age. “This is our first headline tour,” she said. “Thanks for coming, I was afraid nobody would turn up.” Yet when she stepped up to sing, she exuded confidence.
Beck and her band, The Po Boys, opened with the unreleased Oh Little Boy, which was recorded at Tighes Hill’s Sawtooth Studios last year when she was in town supporting Ben Lee at Lizotte’s.
There were renditions of her older songs Pretender and Brother Sister, which are terrific tunes, but they sounded inferior next to her new material from Panacea.
Lead single Here It Comes grew a sensual groove live. Some members of the audience were tricked by it’s false ending and clapped before the Po Boys and Beck launched into its freak-out outro. Vocally, the performance didn’t reach the heights of studio recording, but it’s still one serious rock tune.
Beck then set about showcasing the diversity of Panacea with the Jeff Buckley-influenced Mother Mother, the folky Don’t Hold Your Breath and the night’s highlight – the ragtime Crack Bang Bang - which she described as a “big f—k you to an ex-boyfriend.”
The evening then suddenly took a left turn. Beck told the Herald recently her dream job would be writing songs for Disney. She displayed that affection for children’s songs by ripping out a cover of I Wan'na Be like You (The Monkey Song) from the 1967’s The Jungle Book. The original jazz number sung by fictional orangutan royalty King Louie was re-imagined as rockabilly to the delight of the audience.
Beck then followed with covers of Elvis Presley’s That’s Alright Mama and David Bowie’s All You Pretty Things to further emphasis her love of the classics.
The whole time she proved she was a seasoned professional in a teenager’s skin. Her only missteps were endearing. For instance when changing from acoustic to electric guitar Beck almost began strumming without switching on her amplifier, before being reminded by her older bandmates.
After belting out a 16-song set, Beck announced it was the end of the show and she hadn’t prepared anything for the encore. Following a quick discussion with the Po Boys, they served up another left-field cover, a rockabilly version of Rage Against The Machine’s angry anthem, Killing In The Name Of. Beck certainly sung the sweetest “f—k you, I won’t do what you tell me,” ever heard.
The dinner tables were full, but unfortunately there was only a handful of punters upstairs. Safe to bet the theatre will be full next time. The word is out about Beck.