May 18, 2009 by billie789
So, I was cruising through the satellite dial Saturday night around 10 pm and a channel I’ve never given much thought to, Palladium HD, listed “Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.”
Oh, boy, I thought! I’ve heard and read that this was one of those defining shows for a true Strato Master Maestro and it didn’t disappoint. I was treated to two hours of one of the most amazing live shows that I’ve ever witnessed. And I’ve had the privilege of seeing one of Jeff’s live shows in an intimate setting, so I don’t say that lightly.
Ronnie Scott’s is a relatively small jazz club with even smaller tables. Very intimate with little candle cups and tiny lamps on each table for two or three, low ceiling, etc.
(From Jeff’s New Blog. This is one talented, diverse, interesting and artistic human being!)
“My new project is to build myself a Corvette C2 ‘63-‘67. Although someone is ahead of me in the innovation with regard to the innovative chassis I intend to upgrade the suspension and the driveline. This way will have the best looking car Chevrolet ever built and it will have all the features of a top end sports car instead of the turkey it was back in 1963.”)
Oh, and he forgot to mention that he started his blog a few days after being inducted in to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second time in 17 years. Busy guy.
Back to Ronnie Scott’s.
This show was recorded over 5-nights in late 2007 and although there were no flubs, according to critics, Jeff worked over the material to produce the best out of five performances for each cut. He dressed the same and used the same white Strats so the only way you can tell it’s a different evening is by audience celebrities. One tune, you’ll see shots of Robert Plant smiling in the corner, then Brian May giggling like a schoolgirl at Beck’s fretboard antics and the silver-haired and pony-tailed Jimmy Page laughing out loud as Jeff works his guitar over like a mechanic with a hot rod.
The set list is too long to list, but it was sprinkled by guest artists. Joss Stone came out bare foot and did her best Janis Joplin impersonation to a great blues tune. Later, Imogene Heap came on and worked her way through a very spooky, ethereal tune and Beck played very quietly, restrained and almost inaudibly. It was great!
Finally, when the show neared the end and encores began, Beck walked out and announced that an old friend had stopped by. It was Clapton and they ran through two really nice, hardly known tunes together. A real treat in musicians and song selection. One critic who attended said that he was relieved they didn’t fall into the “lazy, predictable habit” of doing Further On Up The Road or Crossroads. Clapton was parked over near Tal Wilkenfeld, Beck’s bass player, and kept looking at her in amazement as they played. She does bare an uncanny resemblence to the girl on the banned cover of Blind Faith’s first album, though. Flashback, Eric?
A word on the band: The drummer,Vinnie Colaiuta has won 18 “Drummer of the Year” awards from Modern Drummer Magazine‘s annual reader polls. And the dude was am-mazing! He sat there, calm as could be, and the sounds coming from his kit were unbelievable! Thunderous bass drum punches under the snap-crackle and pop of his snares. It sounded like there were two or three drummers and a freight train back there! Wow!
Beck’s bass player, if you haevn’t heard or seen her is a 23-year old Aussie named Tal Wilkenfeld. Angelic face, fountain of strawberry blonde curls flowing down over her shoulders. The kid looks all of 13 years old. But that’s where the “kid” thing stops. She worked that bass guitar over like Jack Bruce in his better days. It was breathtaking to hear what she was doing and doing it so effortlessly. No “porn” face, no excruciating facial contortion, just sweetly smiling and pounding out a huge sound like she was born with that thing in her hands. All through the show, Beck just gazed at her while he playing. Then, they would break into smiles and then just laughter.
She tore into a bass solo early in the show and ran away with everyone’s attention so quickly, Jeff just started laughing, standing respectfully in the background. He walked out from the shadow and began pointing at Wilkenfeld and looking at the audience and mouthing the words, “See? Can you believe that?” At another point in the solo, he got on his knees and waved his hands around his head and kept pointing at her like,”Now you know why she’s here!”
The keyboardist was Jason Robello, who was very, very good at mimicing Jan Hammer from Beck’s earlier days with him. At one point in his solos, he began playing so fast that the notes became nearly indistinguishable, a ripping, fluid stream of white-hot frequencies.
Seriously, this is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen on DVD or in person. Beck gives guitar lessons to everyone with eyes. Even though you can clearly see, thanks to the great multi-camera shooting at every opportunity, each note being played, you have no concept how he produces the sounds he gets.
And here’s the real kicker and sign of a true maestro: Dude’s in his mid-sixties, doesn’t use a pick, and as you can plainly see, he’s working the whammy bar, pick-up switch and volume control at the same frickin’ time! And the sound is off on its independent own, like you’d never believe all the work he’s doing to create it.
The band all looks to each other for fun, smiling, even laughing at points all through the show. Real relaxed, pleasant communication. Beck is the star but he’s so generous with the other band mates that you’d never know it. He smiles and nods to audience members, teases others and genuinely seems to having a ball. Not a lot of physical gyrations or porn face, just the greatest all-around guitar player on the planet! If you want to borrow my copy of the dvd when it arrives this week, let me know.