Updated: May 20
By Aidan Orison and Will Yannacoulias
This past Saturday night Jam Street Shared Arts Space hosted their highly anticipated first live in front of an audience show of 2021 with a limited attendance, socially distanced performance by the enigmatic synth-electronica songwriter Bëker.
Bëker has been producing music in Prince Albert since the early 2000’s. 2013’s Binary Drama was the first of eleven releases, all on Ruf Noiz Recordings; Saturday’s show was a complete performance of 2020’s Auntie Punk and Addendum EPs, along with a couple gems from the back catalog, a brand new unreleased song, and a few choice covers; The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights”, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” and a rousing encore of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”.
Bëker’s one-man performance was resourceful, unique and creative. With deft skill and masterful planning, he unleashed his effects-laden vocals while piloting three keyboards, a sequencer, a sampler and a light show. “The show itself is quite old school” Bëker explained, “I use an old sequencer to run most of the lights and drums. There are a few samples I play manually off my phone. There are a few extra keyboard parts, but I play live as much as I can.”
The songs themselves were a stylistic nod to the synth-pop revolution of the early 1980’s, layered with a modern music sensibility. Bëker is quick to cite his influences and heroes in the genre. “This started out as a synthpop project, using a lot of 80s synthpop music as a foundation, such as the Human League, Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones. Kraftwerk was a HUGE influence as were other 70s synth bands such as Tangerine Dream and JR Jarre. My 3 favorite keyboard players are Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Tony Banks. Never be as good as they are! Another huge influence is Laurie Anderson’s work from the 80s.”
Safety, of course, was first and foremost on everyone’s mind. Masks were mandatory, seating was socially distanced between parties, and in accordance with regulations from the province Jam Street limited ticket sales to 25% capacity; the show was sold out a week in advance. “When they told me that I had to wear a mask to sing I didn't think it was possible” Bëker said. “I ended up testing it, and it actually wasn't too bad. The only difficulty was trying to breathe in between phrases. Where there are only short periods to grab breath, it can be difficult wearing the mask. Aside from that it was fine.”
Almost a year to the day after the world ground to a halt with pandemic restrictions, the welcome performance was loudly cheered by the audience; Bëker crafted a spectacle that captured everything music lovers have been truly missing.
*pictures by Deanna Roos of Contingent Colours Photography