There may be a few people on this earth who can play the guitar as well as Jeff Beck but there are none better. He can make the instrument sing, weep, and soar. Beck allows the guitar to be his voice.
Beck will turn 65 this year. He has had a storied career and next month will be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second time. The first occurred in 1992 as a member of the legendary Yardbirds, and now he will enter as a solo artist. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him at number 14 on their list of The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time and in my opinion that was too low.
2007 found him returning to the intimate setting of Ronnie Scott’s for a series performances that would form the basis of this 21 track DVD titled Performing This Week…Live At Ronnie Scott’s. Supporting him are keyboardist Jason Rebello, legendary jazz drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and the stunning 23 year old Australian bassist Tal Wilkenfeld. Colaiuta is one of the few musicians who talent wise can meet Beck as an equal. His jazz influenced drumming and the ability to follow Beck’s leads are extraordinary. Wilkenfeld, who looks sixteen, is on the fast track to becoming one of music’s great bass players.
“Beck’s Bolero” quickly establishes the fact that he has lost none of his virtuosity. He remains not only a technical master but his passion is transmitted to the audience. “Eternity’s Breath” and “Stratus,” written by John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham respectively, are the kind of jazz/rock fusion songs at which he excels.
There are two stunning performances that should be required watching and listening for anyone who appreciates the guitar as an instrument. His take on the Lennon/McCartney tune, “A Day In The Life,” is mesmerizing as each note is presented with a stunning clarity in this innovative interpretation. Stevie Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” features Beck and Wilkenfeld trading solo’s that have the same structure and melody but played on lead guitar and bass.
Eric Clapton appears for two old blues numbers. While he provides the vocals on Muddy Waters “Little Brown Bird” and Willie Dixon’s “You Need Me,” it is the trading of solos and the intertwining of their guitars that is superb. Clapton is often a little too laid back for my taste but here he cuts loose a little.
Performing This Week…Live At Ronnie Scot’s presents Jeff Beck at his best. My only regret is that the Blu-ray edition contains an additional seven song rockabilly set which I will need to track down. Someone once said; “God plays the guitar using Jeff Beck’s hands.” Amen Brother!