Monday, May 16, 2011

Jeff Beck shares a day in the life at Ruth Eckerd Hall

By Ray Shasho

Jeff Beck captivated a packed Ruth Eckerd Hall on Friday night with his accustom array of impressive guitar licks and melodious intelligence. The Friday show was added by popular demand to appease the fans that couldn’t get tickets for Saturday’s sold out show.
It’s a thrill to be able to witness a genuine guitar hero before the hands of time converts him to folklore. There are very few guitarists that remain in the spotlight with a resume like Jeff Beck's.

At 66, Beck has already been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice. He was first inducted as a member of the British Invasion/Blues/ Rock Innovators - The Yardbirds. (“Heart Full of Soul,” “I’m A Man,” “Shapes of Things,” “Over Under Sideways Down”) The Yardbirds were also known for employing three of the greatest guitarist in the universe- Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.

Jeff Beck was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall again as a solo performer in 2009. (Jimmy Page inducted Beck at the ceremony)

After Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck was asked to join the band. (Members of Floyd were extremely nervous about asking him and barely found the nerve) Beck declined and David Gilmour became Floyd’s guitar virtuoso and lead vocalist.

The first edition of the Jeff Beck Group included Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood.
In 1972, he formed the hard driving Beck, Bogert & Appice.
By 1975, Beck’s masterpiece Blow by Blow was recorded fueling Beck’s Jazz-fusion exploits. The album was produced by Sir George Martin. (The Beatles)

Beck’s experimentations with eccentric guitar harmonies have both stimulated and fascinated his audiences over the years.
Jeff Beck has collaborated with rocks elite, including Jan Hammer, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger and Robert Plant’s Honeydrippers.

His latest albums are Jeff Beck Rock ‘N’ Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul) and Emotion & Commotion - Which was recently awarded two Grammy Awards for - Best Rock Instrumental Performance on “Hammerhead” and Best Pop Instrumental Performance for his arrangement of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.” Beck has won a total of eight Grammy’s in his lifetime.

Jeff Beck’s performance on Friday night was prodigious. Beck launched his set with “Plan B” from the album Jeff, an exciting futuristic space jam. Then Beck demonstrated his jazz/ rock  grooves with a Billy Cobham cover called “Stratus.”
Beck jolted into “Led Boots” from his 1976 critically acclaimed album called Wired.
The mellifluous “Corpus Christi Carol” from the Emotion & Commotion album was Jeff’s next selection. Then Beck played his Grammy winning tune “Hammerhead” from the same album. The song’s Hendrix-like intro erupted into Beck's signature- orchestrated rock fusion- extravaganza, a brilliant measure.

“Mna na h-Eireann” an Irish tune (Considered as Irish rebel music) composed by Sean O’Riada, and a Chieftains cover song was played next. Rhonda Smith’s bass performance was prominent during the song.
“People Get Ready” a 1965 classic by Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions was rendered.  Beck’s version is noted for his collaborations with Rod Stewart.
More electrified rock/jazz/funk amalgamation was executed with “You Never Know” form the 1980- There and Back album. 
Then Jeff Beck transformed his audience back to a period perhaps when American blues were first created with his own rendition of “Rollin and Tumblin” a Muddy Waters cover tune.
“Big Block” from the 1989 album Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop was featured next on the bill.
“Over the Rainbow” the Judy Garland cover ballad from The Wizard of Oz was Beck’s melancholy guitar wizardry entry that rained tears upon the Ruth Eckerd audience.
A reluctant Beck didn’t want to perform the next selection but was convinced to do so by his drummer who also sang the vocals. The song "Little Wing" is a Jimi Hendrix composition from the Axis: Bold as Love album. It was great to hear a Hendrix classic played by Beck, another axe-master.  

Then Beck played “Blue Wind,” from the Wired album. The tune is a convoluted piece of fusion that one could almost swear spoke to you in a human voice rather than musical tone.
Beck’s following selection was “Dirty Mind” from the 2001 release- You Had It Coming. A tune composed with Robin Trower-like guitar riffs. A space-aged version of the blues followed next with “Brush with the Blues.”

Jeff Beck's final song before the encore was the Lennon/McCartney penned classic “A Day in the Life.” A remarkable interpretation beautifully composed and overwhelming the Ruth Eckerd audience to its feet.

Beck returned for an encore and played the Alfred Drake cover tune “How High The Moon” from the album Jeff Beck Rock ‘N’ Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul) followed by Sly & The Family Stone’s, “I Want To Take You Higher.” Beck concluded the evening with his Grammy winning and surreal rendition of “Nessun Dorma” from the album Emotion & Commotion.

Although my personal favorites, "I'm Going Down," "Beck's Bolero," "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" and "Thelonius" were not featured tonight, I was still thoroughly inspired by the performance of guitar legend Jeff Beck.  

Beck has been and continues to be one of the greatest guitarists on the planet. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if someone had said, “I just saw Jeff Beck climb into a spaceship to perform at another universe.”

I'd like to thank photographer Mark Weaver and the entire staff at Ruth Eckerd Hall.


Order my new book Check the Gs- The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business. You can get your copy here.    Available for Kindle.










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