Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott’s…unbelievable!

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May 18, 2009 by billie789

 

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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.”

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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.

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 (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?

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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.

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33 thoughts on “Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott’s…unbelievable!

  1. Randy Spiker says:

    Sounds great! I love Jeff and some of his ballads are timeless. Guitar Shop is still #1…… uh wait, There and Back, no……Wired. They’re all great. I’ve been lucky to say that I’ve seen Jeff just about everytime he tours going all the way back to Beck Bogert Appice at Winterland. I even saw him with Stevie Ray Vaughn and that was special to say the least. The Wired tour was probably my favorite but who’s to say.

    I could spend all day reminiscing but back to work I go. Thanks Bill, I’ll have to check that out as I do get Palladia too. In fact, I can’t believe I missed it as we’re always tuning into that channel.

    BTW; that Blind Faith cover was banned at some point, wasn’t it?

  2. bill says:

    Yeah. That’s why a wrote “…girl on the banned cover of Blind Faith’s first album.”

    Just teasing you. But seriously, this was a show that has old time fans and critics raving about what a clean, pure show it was. I’m an unabashed Beck fan who’s bought nearly everything he’s turned out since 1970 and I join the people who have commented on line about the Ronnie Scott shows being some of the best Beck has ever done.

    I can’t get over his virtuosity. Thirty years ago, Jimmy Page said,”When he’s on, Jeff is the best there is.”

    What’s just fascinating to me is that he never gets boring or predictable and seems to actually be getting better with age.

    Randy, here’s a 4:16 link to the jazz fusion sound from that show.

  3. Randy Spiker says:

    Yeah Bill! That was one of my favorites from There and Back. In fact (reminiscing again) when my late Guitar buddy and I saw that tour at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, that song still stands out in my mind. It was one of those fall evenings with the air thick and cool with moisture from the bay. Jeff and company had been laying down some serious smoke all evening but when this song came on it turned magical. The drummer whose name escapes me right now was just spot on with the double bass thing and in the middle of the song went ballistic with a drum solo that ranks right up there with the best. The “magic” was the combination of the air and his hot sweat, he really started to put off steam….. literally! Best damned smoke machine I’ve ever seen! And it was au naturale!

    Thanks for posting this stuff. You really made my day! ;>)

  4. Randy Spiker says:

    Yeah. That’s why a wrote “…girl on the banned cover of Blind Faith’s first album.”

    “She does bare an uncanny resemblence to the girl on the banned cover of Blind Faith’s first album, though. Flashback, Eric?”

    Yup…… there it is! I guess I should read the whole post before commenting but sometimes time constraints hamper my desires.

    Oh well! Dopey me!!! :>)

  5. Joanie says:

    I was given both the CD and the DVD. Oddly, it was brought to my attention later that the cover photo came from a different concert, taken by someone I know. Imagine that.

    Anyhow, the CD and the DVD go very well together and it’s a great way to immerse yourself into another time and headspace for a while. It’s music that follows you after, too.

  6. Stu says:

    I’m now looking forward to picking up this DVD, thanks for the heads-up! BTW your drive-by didn’t go unnoticed. You get far too much enjoyment out of that!

  7. Jane says:

    Personally I don’t think the cover looks like Tal other than her hair but anyway….
    You might enjoy youtubing up some of the recent footage of the 4 hand bass solos.

    “one critic who attended…” wonder who that might have been

  8. bill says:

    Jane, this one’s for you. Author and his first paragraph of his review.

    “submitted by: James Connelly

    “I saw the Jeff Beck gig at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London on Thursday night (29 November 2007). In the audience were Brian May, Tony Iommi, Jon Bon Jovi and Jimmy Page.”

  9. bill says:

    Stu, I knew there was going to be some kind of misplaced sympathetic reaction, but the reference by the writer was about Clapton and Beck playing those specific tunes back at the Policeman’s Other Ball or whatever it was called in 1981.

    Sorry, you guys. Didn’t mean to make your Bonamassa swell up.

  10. Stu says:

    Being certain of some kind of sympathetic reaction, is that why the details surrounding the reference were withheld in the original post – so they could be referred to in a follow up comment? I admire your style, brother. You’re very, very good at what you do!!

    ps: nothing was swollen :-)

  11. bill says:

    Why should I have to detail every reference in a comment made by another party? My review wasn’t about this guy’s opinions. Yes, I knew that the reference would cause a rash in some people. Thoughtless on my part and I apologize profusley to the priests of The Temple of Rockadivamassa.

    I saw the show and had the same reaction. It was really great that they didn’t fall back on some boring, familiar standard just so they didn’t have to rehearse. They really did something special and one of the reviewers I read stated his relief that they didn’t fall back on boring, standard stuff like they did in 1981. One tune, Little Brown Bird or something like that, was really cool. Never heard it before and these two went about it like a couple of well-seasoned journymen. And they are.

    If I put Michelangleo and Da Vinci in the same art studio and I come back a week later and they fingerpainted something stupid and left, my reaction would be the same. If I put Michlealngelo and an art student in the same room and came back a week later and they had fingerpainted something stupid, it would be a lot more understandable and not nearly as disappointing.

  12. bill says:

    However, if I put Jimi Hendrix and Aldous Huxley in the same…aw, nevermind! Just try to enjoy the show, ladies and gentlemen.

  13. esarsea says:

    Just yanking your chain a little. I can’t put my finger on the exact post(s) or discussions from the past, but I always remember how you’ve had this uncanny ability to pull out some very relevant piece of info after the fact that wasn’t part of your original comment or argument – that left me feeling like a batter who was badly fooled by a nasty curve ball; swinging at air and looking terribly ackward at the plate when I tried to challenge something you’d presented.

    I’ve admired it as a debating skill, seriously.

  14. Jane says:

    Thanks for the reference Bill.

  15. bill says:

    I don’t know if I’m flattered or insulted. Perhaps that’s your uncanny ability ;-)

  16. Stu says:

    LOL God knows I’ve managed to do both before!!!

  17. Randy Spiker says:

    Jeff at Ronnie’s is playing again today at 14:00 (2pm) PDT on Palladia. I’ve got the DVR set and I think y’all know what I’ll be doin after work this evening.

  18. bill says:

    Palladia HD Channel Schedule. All Times are Eastern Std Time.

    Wednesday, May 20 5:00 PM Jeff Beck: Live at Ronnie Scott’s
    Sunday, May 24 1:00 PM Jeff Beck: Live at Ronnie Scott’s
    Monday, May 25 6:00 AM Jeff Beck: Live at Ronnie Scott’s
    Thursday, May 28 7:00 PM Jeff Beck: Live at Ronnie Scott’s
    Friday, June 12 9:30 PM Jeff Beck: Live at Ronnie Scott’s

  19. Randy Spiker says:

    I’ve returned from a 4 hour Jeff Beck marathon (watched it twice) and all I can say is…….. YEAH BABY!!!

    There were so many highlights that I can’t list them all but here are just a few…… Tal has one of the cutest, infectious smiles I’ve ever seen on a bass player or female musician for that matter. When Jeff and Eric were up on stage all I could think of was how awesome it must have been to be 23 years old and on the stage with two Guitar Icons. Could have died and gone to heaven if it was me. Her bass solo early in the show was great and as Bill mentioned, Jeff was in awe. There seemed to be a good chemistry between Jeff and Tal with many smiles of adoration going back and forth.

    Jeff is just phenomenol. He looks more relaxed and at ease than I’ve ever seen him and I think it reflects in his playing at this show. Many memorable tunes but the Beatles copy and his ballads were highlights for me. I think I may make a compilation CD of all Jeffs ballads going back to Blow By Blow. They have been known to get a welling of tears on occasion for me anyway, especially the ones on Guitar Shop.

    If you haven’t yet seen this show, GET IT! I see this one in constant rotation for some time to come.

    Thanks again Bill for the “heads up”.

  20. Bill says:

    Nice. It’s just a different feeling for a live show. Friendly, intimate and the musicianship is beyond…it’s “out there” somewhere!

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  23. torqdog says:

    I just received a long awaited package from Amazon today and in it was the Blu-ray version of the Ronnie Scott show. I just finished watching it and it is absolutely THE best rock Blu-ray I’ve heard. I don’t know if you guys have taken the Blu-ray plunge yet and if you haven’t, lemme just say that the crystal clear video aspect is nice but where Blu-ray excels is in the lossless audio. There’s no compression codecs so it comes across crystal clear and this Blu-ray is exceptional. Imogene Heap’s vocals on Blanket are so realistic, you think you are there at the show. This show was mixed quite well and Jeff’s guitar sounds simply awesome. You can hear every nuance of his incredible picking style.

    One thing nice about this Blu-ray is there is some bonus material that is quite worthy. There’s about a 20 minute interview with Jeff and he comes across as quite a humble person, almost seems to not realize how good he is or just how popular he is with his fans. There is also a set with the Big Town Playboys (not included on the DVD) that is smokin. Aparently, this is the only live show Jeff has ever done with this group. I have the CD and it never really did much for me but I was really liking this live set they did.

    Again, if you have a Blu-ray player and it’s hooked up to surround sound, get this disc. You WILL be amazed.

    • Stu says:

      I haven’t taken the HD or Blu-ray plunge yet, but we’ve been talking about it.

      Part of the issue is having one of those big, heavy flat-screen Sony Trinitrons that takes 3 people to lift, and it’s sitting in one of those old-school oak entertainment centers that also damn near requires a forklift to move. Also have an dinosaur component stereo system with big old Klipsch speakers…so when we do it, we’ll need to buy all the related gear at once.

      I need to start selling pieces on Craigslist to make room, and to gain some funds. Frustrating to think I paid more for that Sony than it will cost for a narrow-cabinet HD TV that’s twice the size.

      Randy, you’ve probably been in the Peppermill there. They have artwork hanging on the walls around the casino that’s actually big TV screens or monitors that display nature scenes in motion. I assumed were on DVD; beaches, mountains, etc. The sharpness and clarity of the images is amazing. Would you guess they are Blue-ray?

    • Bill says:

      It’s one of my favorite live performances on disk. Maybe the best for nuance, atmosphere, musicianship, mood and an appreciative, mature audience that included so many rock super stars. When you see Brian May or Robert Plant or Jimmy Page staring at the stage and grinning ear-to-ear like it’s a comedy club instead of a concert club, it’s kind of a big deal. The interview with Beck is priceless because he seems so down-to-earth and plays so unearthly. No porn faces while he piles on melodies, harmonics, stuttering whammy bar runs and just paints such a thoughtful and artistic mood. And the thing that I’ve always loved about Beck is you can hear his personality coming through his licks. Similar with Hendrix. I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a new piece of music from Beck where you go,”Oh, he’s playing that standard run he always plays…”

      The tune featuring Imogene Heap gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. You want to talk about a haunting, beautiful, magical scene.

      Jeff’s playing is so perfect to accompany a singer. You’ll notice he’s very generous and careful when there’s a singer with him. He does little fills that compliment, no pyro-riffs because he knows it’s not about him ALL THE TIME and when time comes for a lead break, in the Heap tune, it’s like poetry being read while you’re enjoying a painting.

  24. Bill says:

    So you don’t have to buy the DVD to hear this tune.

    • Stu says:

      Thanks for the link. Great song.

      My ONLY issue with Jeff Beck is that sometimes I wish he’s play a more straight-up, less fancy style. Sometimes, for me, the extra little stretches and vibrato and moaning turns detracts from what would otherwise be a brilliant performance.

      I remember when Joe B went through the that stage when he was seemingly infatuated with those volume swells. They were really cool, but a little bit went a long ways with me — and it didn’t take too much before they started getting in the way of my enjoyment of the song.

      Not intending to compare Joe with Jeff, but it’s a similar dynamic for me. Sometimes less of the fancy stuff would allow me to not be so distracted by it, and more able to just meld with the song instead of being jerked around by it. I think part of the reason it’s so distracting is because it’s so unusual and so unique.

      There’s no arguing his genius though. I’m sure it’s much more difficult to play that way than not, and I do like a little bit of that extra stuff here and there…but just not quite as much as Jeff uses it.

      Maybe it’s just too sophisticated for me to appreciate at times?

  25. Bill says:

    Well, that’s why I put that link to a nice, slow, rather tender little tune. No guitar pyro or roaring or growling. Just a straightforward, 3 chord little ditty. I just like the mood they set.

    • Stu says:

      It is really, really good. Plus watching Imogen Heap sing is worth the price of admission alone…let alone hearing her sing! :-)

  26. Johnny C says:

    I once read a quote from Jimmy Page from around 1968, he said that Jeff Beck was the “best guitarist” on the planet. A master technician that every new artist back then was trying to get to join their band. I discovered Beck when I was 25 years old and bought “There and Back” as a CD, I was blown away. I just now finished watching the gig at Ronnie Scott’s (’07’) for the 3rd time over the course of the past 2 years and had to find a place to express my thoughts on what has been one of the best sounding performances I’ve heard live. It was if they were in studio only with the lights down low and a bunch of people (some musicians) witnessing perfect sound and technical genius. The Beatles (Lennon’s) “A Day in the Life” was done with feeling and reverance you could tell Jeff was paying homage to John and I’m sure the audience felt that also. Tal Wilkenfeld, what can you say? She’s a beauty and a beast on that bass. Keith Moon will always have the #1 drummer tag with me because of his larger than life persona and his alien style that made other drummers want to take up crochet’ but Mr. Vinnie Colaiuta opened my eyes (in this one session) with his Tight, controled chaos, it’s like trying to describing a pinpoint of nuetron/electron fusion energy being released into 2 hours of art, he was simply amazing. And Jeff Beck, Well he is the Master amongst apprentices of the guitar world.

    • Bill says:

      Those are great reminisces, Johnny. I just stuck a toe into my 6th decade on the planet and Beck began killing me 40 years ago. I heard “Truth” and realized he was just different in a really powerful and creative way. And through the years he’s never settled into a style or repetitious sound that marks so many players.

      Get his unauthorized biography if you can. It is full of stories that only point to what an unusual rock icon and influence he’s been. He’s the guy who called Jimmie Page after they’d both left The Yardbirds and suggested they form a ‘super group’ and Beck’s wish list was Page on bass and Keith Moon on drums. Moon had to sneak to the jam’s location fearing The Who would find out. He also asked what the name of this new arrangement might be as he thought, after a brief jam, that their music would go over with Who fans like a lead zepplin. . .changed after Moon backed out and Beck went into another of his infamous funks and wandered off…to Led Zepplin because they thought Lead Zepplin would be pronounced “Leed” as in guitar.

      But that original line up? Can you even imagine the sound they would have made together?

      Although he has none, his guitar player peers say things about him that are reserved for heroes and mentors. Ritchie Blackmore told Guitar Player magazine in the mid-70’s, at the height of his sometimes-arrogant powers that Beck was probably the best rock guitar player in the world at any given time.

      Look at the guys you can recognize in Ronnie Scott’s DVD. They are British rock and roll royalty sitting there chuckling and shaking their heads at what he can do with a Strat in his hands. A great comparison in that DVD is Clapton’s playing and Beck’s playing in the tune they do together.

      • Johnny C says:

        Hey Bill, Is there any released recordings of Jeff, Jimmy and Keith Moon together? Moon was just amazing! I try to get any material I can w/Keith. I’m sure he could have made his living as an actor if he wasn’t a musician but then again, the music world would have missed out on his incredible style. Well, you take care …sry it took so long to get back

  27. Bill says:

    There was this one jam session on a whim and don’t know if it was taped or who would have rights or where it might be. Good googling project ;-)

    If you’re a Moon fan like me, you’ll get a laugh in this Beck bio about how he began beating his kit with such ferocity in this session, he actually broke the microphone hanging over his head with his sticks and didn’t even know it until they finished.

    He was such a monster drummer! It’s so much fun just watching old Keith go insane back there in old video clips!

    Or just driving a Lincoln Towne Car into a motel swimming pool to see if it would float.

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