And now on a take off of 'The Prisoner' (which Bill and I are also major fans), and their '#6'....
The sendoff to Cozy Powell, "Another Place", is 'definately maybe' a 2 box Kleenex experience as is the reworked and renamed Euro and SA tour masterpiece "La Veranesse" now called "Angels Strut". The tempo is slow and deliberate and Jeff mixes different finger, hand and slide techniques soaring off into the heavens with ecstacy. Not to go soft on you, Jeff is heavy handed with such things as the Jan Hammer penned "Even Odds" and the single from the Lp "What Mama Said". A funkier and more deliberate "Even Odds" on the Lp is exact and to the point yet allows Jeff to roam subtlety and over the top at points and the melody line from the bridge is most memorable. It should be noted that Jeff was stressing that this time around there had to be a lot of melodic content and that he didn't want just another shred groove without redemption. That's why he chose to start from scratch and basically ditch the fun stuff he did with Steve Luthaker last year. The single, "What Mama Said" is basically the Euro/SA tour "New Tech". Inserted for fun, airplay and uniqueness, a dialogue bit from the old sixties comedy movie "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" in which Dick Shawn asks about 'What Mama Said'.
"Brush With Blues" gets it's own paragraph. First of all it is a first. Jeff has never put a live track before on a planned (contract fulfilling, hah!) studio release of new material. (Anyone emailing about "Blues Deluxe" from 'Truth' please take two steps to the rear. Also, BBA Live In Japan, w/Jan Hammer and Beckology don't count.) Secondly, if there is a live blues track out there that is more genuine and heartfelt than this one I've yet to find it. Remember part of the beauty of this number is that is is not classic twelve bar but an interesting art-deco-club-jazzy blues with a twist...and a roar. Final bonus is that it is from one of the last three German gigs, so it is a different version than the German video we all have (or should).
Before we launch the new JB record into outer space, I pay homage to my personal favorite on the Lp, "Space For The Papa". Hints of 'Guitar Shop' and 'Stand On It' aside, I didn't think from the live shows that it would be my first choice but as in many cases, going back to read the book after you've seen the movie can be very rewarding. While some of the previous live versions provided much room for experimentation after Jennifer Batten counted down and launched the spaceship Jeff, it's obvious that in this version, recorded during a soundcheck at one of the last three German dates last summer, that Jeff spent a good deal of care with the fingerings and slides and bends on this particular tune. Each phrasing rings out in it's own bold and unique style. Perfecto.
No master is complete without his support. No one is adept as at writing offbeat time signatures that can blend into rock n' roll as Tony Hymas. He's the big brother part that keeps challenging Jeff to come out with daring cutting edge stuff that makes a who else rather that a who cares! Since Jennifer Batten has been on the Beck scene, unheard of things are happening in Jeff's career. He finally came out with a record. He's behaving himself with the other half of the odd couple (Sony). He's playing better than ever before. He's doing extended touring. Who knows, maybe he'll even consider getting Rod to come onstage at one of his show's for an encore. (Rod will be in Toronto on a day off when Jeff plays there we have learned.)
This first three comes courtesy of Michael Einhaus. Michael says both of the Fillmore posters are available in the U.S. at Artrock in San Francisco or Psychedelic Solution in New York City. Thanks again!
If the name Beck now conjures a young, Southern California slacker-rocker and not the legendary English guitarist, Jeff Beck has only himself to blame. It's been more than five years since his last release and a lot longer than that since he had anything resembling a hit.
``It's really embarrassing,'' the guitar star Beck says. ``When I look back and see how little I've done, I almost feel I'm not really a professional. But I feel it's better not to play unless you're 100 percent sure you want to.''
Now Beck, 54, is back with a new release, ``Who Else!,'' an ironic title considering that most under-35 music fans think of Someone Else when they hear his name. He's also on a tour that lands Saturday at The Orpheum, his first since performing on a twin bill with fellow guitar star Carlos Santana four years ago.
Speaking from a London rehearsal hall, Beck makes the process of recording and touring 1999-style sound like a major inconvenience. ``First you've got to get the damn record done,'' he says sounding both amused and cranky. ``That's the biggest stumbling block, having a record you're reasonably pleased with and you're gung-ho to play. You have to put the tour together, which is a major operation. You've got to plan it a year ahead of time. I won't bore you with the details. But it took a concerted effort by me.'' He laughs. ``I hope you all appreciate it.''
Certainly his fans do. Beck has earned his place in history several times over. First, he made his mark as the most adventurous of the Yardbirds' triumvirate of guitar gods, which includes Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. Next, he formed his own Jeff Beck Group, which launched the careers of singer Rod Stewart and current Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood and, more significantly, forged a style that countless hard rock and heavy-metal bands have fed off since. Then, in the mid-'70s, he unleashed his own influential take on jazz/rock withalbums such as the landmark ``Blow By Blow.'' But starting in the '80s, Beck's live and recorded appearances became increasingly sporadic. In an uncharacteristic burst of productivity, he put out two offbeat albums in 1983: ``Frankie's House,'' the soundtrack to a cable TV miniseries about the Vietnam War, and ``Crazy Legs,'' a tribute to Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps and underappreciated guitarist Cliff Gallup, in particular. After that, nothing.
``I've been extremely down,'' Beck says. ``Depressed, I suppose. And nobody wants to hear anyone playing depressed. Relationship stuff happened. I wanted to learn to be a pilot. The instructor was a woman. I almost had my license when things went very wrong. Enough said.
``Then I started to restore this big old ancient house. Let me tell you, you need to be a multimillionaire to restore ancient houses. ``It seemed all this stuff was going on at once sucking great chunks of my life away,'' he says. ``I needed a push musically, somebody to encourage me to make a move.'' That somebody was Tony Hymas, Beck's longtime keyboardist. Hymas had written a bunch of tunes, many of which ended up on ``Who Else!,'' mixing unusual time signatures, offbeat rhythms, jazz and world beat flavors with rock. In turn, Beck introduced Hymas to a new style he wanted to explore: electronic dance music.
``I layed some Chemical Brothers and Prodigy on Tony and said, `Look, these people are massive. We can't go on dreaming about jazz-rock forever.' I shoved Tony in this direction and, presto, he comes up with some really wild stuff.'' ``Who Else!'' kicks off with two tracks that sound like Beck and his guitar turned loose in a techno-fueled dance club where electronic drum beats rule.
``That's almost exactly what happened,'' Beck says. ``I would go to these clubs and think, `Listen to that groove. If only I could put some guitar on top of it.' You can't get away from the excitement and energy (techno) generates, but there's precious little else. It's just drums, bass and silly noises. I'm thinking, `I belong on there.' '' Beck offsets the heavy beat tracks on ``Who Else!'' with more thoughtful tracks on which he demonstrates his distinctive touch and tone as well as an original, invigorating approach to such often-static forms as the blues and Celtic music. With its drastic shifts of style, not to mention its lack of vocals, ``Who Else!'' is exceptionally idiosyncratic - and most likely an exceptionally tough sell. You get the feeling Beck wouldn't have it any other way.
``I could get a stereotypical rock 'n' roll singer and then maybe we'd have a hit record,'' he says. ``But then I'd be just like everybody else. I wouldn't feel the slightest bit special. I just try to justify my walking out onstage with my guitar. If nothing else, I know you're not going to be able to go up the road and hear stuff like I play.''
Jeff Beck performs Saturday night at The Orpheum, Boston. The show is sold out.
In this era of studio-ized electronica, boy bands and videogenic singers, it's rare to find a six-string, cream-colored electric guitar monopolizing the spotlight at a rock 'n' roll show. But put it in the hands of guitar legend Jeff Beck and it's a solid reminder why the guitar has been ``youth culture's weapon of choice during the last 50 years,'' as Rolling Stone said recently in an issue devoted to Guitar Gods. It's been ages since Beck headlined his own show here so the sell-out guy-fest of 2,700 at Massey Hall was stoked. In fact, if the NATO forces had missed their overseas targets and nailed the storied building at Shuter and Victoria a large chunk of the city's musical community might have disappeared. Beck didn't disappoint.
Lean and energetic, the 54-year-old British axeman confirmed his consummate musicianship with dazzling, heart-racing licks and blistering runs that most guitarists only dream of during the explosive two-hour instrumental performance. Backed by his new band, Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson's former guitarist), bassist Randy Hope and drummer Steve Alexander, Beck focused much of the show on songs from Who Else!, his first album of original material in 10 years. The cuts included the moody, Celtic-flavored ``Declan'' and concert-opener ``What Mama Said,'' updated with rave-club rhythms and computer voices. But none of the newfangled effects detracted from Beck's precise and passionate playing, particularly on crowd-pleasing covers of the Beatles' ``A Day In The Life'' and Stevie Wonder's ``Cause We've Ended As Lovers,'' from 1975's classic Blow By Blow. At one point Beck, a man of few words, grabbed the microphone as if to say something to the crowd. Instead, he pushed it back wordlessly and laughed. His whammy-bar crescendos, sweetly plucked notes and molten-riffing said all that was needed to be said.
A car accident later that year sidelined Beck for 18 months. Beck thrived during the mid-'70s, when the double album Blow by Blow set a new standard for instrumental rock recordings. From 1977 to 1980, however, Beck dropped out of the public eye. Beck re-teamed with Stewart in 1985, when their version of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" became a radio hit. Alas, a tour hastily derailed when the two stars couldn't get along. During the 14 subsequent years, Beck released three albums of new material -- one in 1989 and two in 1993. But as the century closes, 54-year-old Beck has found inspiration in ambient, electronic and techo styles that have dominated the music scene of his native England during recent years.
His forward-looking instrumental album Who Else! was released on March 16, and he brings his live at to the Murat Theatre on Tuesday. "I'm looking for some reassurance that I'm not wasting my time," Beck said during a recent telephone interview. "Obviously, through being so little onstage and so unprolific in the recording studio, it would help if this tour was a mild success. Just some mild interest would be enough for me." There's an easy-to-detect urgency in Beck's voice when he talks about opportunities that lie ahead. And he's quick to dispel the suggestion that he has deliberately missed opportunities of the past."Not willingly. ... Continuing problems crop up," he said. "I suppose I got what I've deserved and it's only me to blame for all the good or the bad."
When Beck does tackle a new project, he has a history of trying something new. He's immersed himself in blues, jazz-rock fusion, rockabilly, Asian and now electronic genres. "Whatever goes, goes," Beck said. "I'm never going to stand on one island and stick a pole in it and say, 'This is me forever.' " Electronic leanings... Frankie's House and Crazy Legs, two albums released in 1993, illustrated the divergent ground Beck is willing to explore. Frankie's House, the soundtrack for a cable-TV miniseries set during the Vietnam War, featured Beck's interpretations of traditional Asian koto music. On Crazy Legs, Beck re-created 17 songs from the catalog of rock 'n' roll pioneer Gene Vincent. "If I'm accused of musical promiscuity or whatever, then so be it," Beck said. "But it's a legal deal. The guy who's allowed to make mistakes in the name of experimentation -- that's really what my job is."
For the most part, Who Else! is a fast-paced ride that showcases aggressive playing by Beck. "Right back from the Yardbirds, I've kind of had an eye for adventurous music," Beck said. "Being born during the latter part of (World War II), I suppose I've suffered some kind of bomb damage that I've tried to use to effect. It's a sort of post-war disturbance, I guess." The album opens with a pair of withering, futuristic rave-ups, "What Mama Said" and "Psycho Sam." Beck then pays tribute to his roots with "Brush with the Blues," an emotive track recorded live during a 1998 tour of Germany. "I thought about the Blues a lot, because I didn't want it to sound like an add-on," Beck said. "After two barrage-of-tech numbers, a dramatic drop of energy level could have the best effect." In concert, Beck said he plans to incorporate Who Else! songs with material from throughout his career. "(Who Else! is) about half the package," Beck said. "The rest of it is just charged rock 'n' roll. We've got the most kick-ass stuff we could get our hands juxtaposed with some nice ballads. It should be pretty good." The shapes of things Beck's membership in the Yardbirds earned him a spot in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. One of the band's defining moments was a memorable cameo appearance in director Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up. "Four days of my entire life back in 1966 -- and they come back to haunt me," Beck jokingly said of his part in the influential art film. "But it was great, there was no doubt about it." While the Yardbirds' performance of instrumental number "Stroll On" earned rave reviews, Beck said his Blow Up experience was slightly tainted. "I guessed, in my little kind of cunning way, that we were the second choice," Beck said. "When I was asked to smash the guitar, I knew straightaway that the director or producer wanted Pete Townshend (and The Who). But we weren't in a financial situation to turn that down." Historically, the Yardbirds will be remembered as the group that can count guitar gods Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Beck among its alumni. Beck replaced Clapton in the band's lineup, and Page joined the group shortly before Beck's exit. During the Beck era, the Yardbirds gave rock 'n' roll a new edge with hits such as "Heart Full of Soul," "Over Under Sideways Down" and "Shapes of Things." Page later assembled Led Zeppelin from the ashes of the Yardbirds, who often are credited for "inventing" heavy metal. "I don't really think the youth of today give two hoots about it," Beck said of any role he had in metal's evolution. "If it's not important to them, I wouldn't go on about it. I certainly won't be standing up, beating my chest to say I invented this, that or the other."
Jeff Beck did have much use for the microphone onstage at Roseland on Friday night. After two approaches, he told the sold-out crowd he had forgotten what he was going to say, later, he named the band members and offered thank yous. But his guitar was his true voice, and still every bit as brazen and subtle, wayward and exalted as it has been since he sliced through British blues in the 1960's.
Since the mid-1970's Mr. Beck has been leading instrumental bands, re-emerging with an album every three to six years. His pieces, many of them composed by his longtime collaborator Tony Hymas, are built on blues forms or tape loops, hard-rock stomps or hovering melodies, off-meter vamps or Middle Eastern scales. Mostly they provide open space where his guitar can wrangle or snarl or peal.
His solos are the sound of supreme confidence: not aggressive or necessarily flashy, but casually assured that every impulse will pay off. He's an iconoclast by reflex, using his guitar to make a tune persuasive, then attack it without mercy. He states a melody and claws it apart, bending and distorting notes or breaking into high, swerving tangents; he fights the beat, runs circles around it, then flies above it with siren cries. He doesn't flaunt the speed that's in his fingers. Instead he keeps listeners hanging on every phrase, awaiting the next pause or streak or curve. Every so often, as in "Angel" from his new album, "Who Else!" (Epic), he allows a melody to sing, proving he's not a thoughtless vandal.
Mr. Beck has updated his music technologically. The band was occasionally supplemented by a programmed beat or a repeating sample, though Randy Hope-Taylor on base and Steve Alexander on drums also pounded out hefty boogie riffs. Jennifer Batten, on second guitar, sometimes transformed her tone to sound like keyboard parts.
Mr. Beck's own approach hasn't changed much more than his shag haircut. While he has added the speedy fretboard-tapping technique of Allan Holdsworth and Eddie Van Halen to his tactics, he is still steeped in the blues, with its slides and jabs, its rough boogie chords and its insouciant filigrees. His set had only a few lapses; an overly reverent run-through of "A Day in the Life" and some clichéd guitar-synthesizer tones - breathy chords, pseudo-Celtic pipes- from Ms. Batten. But for the most part, Mr. Beck was living proof that at least one guitar hero is too ornery to be obsolete.
DETROIT _ If Jeff Beck wasn't the original guitar god, he was certainly in the pantheon of deities. From 1964-66, when rock's first guitar-godhead myths were being written, Beck was one of the three axe-wielding poobahs in the Yardbirds who pushed rock guitar to new, more turbulent levels of expression _ the others being Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. (Remember, this was pre-Hendrix: Are You Experienced? didn't erupt until '67.)
Not surprisingly, Beck _ who will perform tonight at the Fox Theatre, only the second time in 10 years that he's played Detroit _ is one of the deities being worshiped in Rolling Stone's current "Guitar Gods" issue.
Indeed, Beck's breathtaking guitar heroics _ like his otherworldly feedback and distortion, and the high drama of his swooping, air-raid siren solos _ have rarely been matched in the ensuing 35 years of rock-guitar history. (Except, of course, by Hendrix, Clapton and Page.) But his newly released Who Else! adds to the luster of Beck's eccentric legend. Who Else! is an all-instrumental album that's directly hot-wired into the ambitious, funky-jazz-rock vibe of Blow by Blow and Wired, his seminal mid-'70s fusion discs. And on a few tunes, he comes up with a trendier, electro-torqued brand of fusion by lashing his dive-bomb guitar theatrics to throbbing techno-house beats.
On tracks like "What Mama Said" and "Psycho Man," Beck transcends the generic techno-thump grooves with his signature, note-shredding crescendos. And on the live "Brush With the Blues," "Angel" and the traditional Irish tune "Declan," Beck's luscious guitar tone and eloquent phrasing speak with the emotional immediacy of a human voice.
Tonight's show will be mostly devoted to the new songs, although Beck has promised some high-wire rearrangements of tunes from his deep catalogue _ reaching as far back as those groundbreaking, mid-'60s days with the Yardbirds. " `Beck's Bolero': We're gonna kick a_ on that one," he boasts in the bio material with the new disc. "It'll bring the house down." Bet your own house on it.
There was a time when the mere mention of his last name identified him to rock fans worldwide. But those times have passed. "I got this e-mail from a girl who asked me how it could be that she was my biggest fan but hadn't heard about my new album," says Beck -- Jeff Beck, that is, the Beck who first changed rock history with his guitar playing for the Yardbirds in the mid-1960s.
Jeff Beck is fully aware that, these days, his last name is more likely to conjure the Beck of "Odelay" and "Mellow Gold" renown than his own. As part of a tour to promote his new album, "Beck: Who Else?" Jeff Beck will play the Rave at 8 tonight.
"I hope that girl and anyone else confusing the two of us doesn't come to any of the shows," added the elder Beck. "If they do, they'll be disappointed." During a recent phone interview from his estate outside of London, Beck, 54, spoke of how his new record was influenced by, of all things, the English techno band, the Prodigy; how his long-designated status as a "guitar god" is both a vice and a blessing; and what a 30-plus-year veteran of the music industry has to do to keep himself in the game -- and sane while doing so. "Why am I still doing it," he says, "still out there competing with all the youngsters? Well, here it is 1999, and I've hardly played or recorded that much in the last decade. And despite my being famous for talking of how often I have to get away from the music business (Beck is known for spending as much time tinkering under the hoods of his vintage car collection as he is with his guitar collection) I still love playing music."
The new album sets Beck's familiar blues-wiz leads atop throbbing, rave-like dance beats -- part of his plan to revamp his guitar-god image, from his signature Stratocaster to his English mod hairdo. But fret not, guitar buffs: both the new techno-fied Beck, as well as the vintage, classic-era Beck will be showcased during tonight's show. "We'll be doing revamped versions of stuff from 'Wired' and 'Blow by Blow,' " says Beck, referring to the groundbreaking albums he released in 1975 and '76. Also included, he says, will be material from his days in the Yardbirds and the Jeff Beck Group (which featured Rod Stewart for a spell) along with more recent, explorative guitar compositions that marked '80s and '90s Beck albums such as "Flash," "There and Back" and "Crazy Legs."
Regarding current genres and artists, Beck says, "me and rap don't get along too well" -- yet his voice seems to warm to the mention of rapper Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, who did a remake of "Kashmir" for the "Armageddon"soundtrack with one of Beck's contemporaries, former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. Beck is one of the few guitarists whose name, back in those guitar-obsessive days, as much as merited mention within the same breath as Jimi Hendrix's. Beck's feelings about Hendrix range from respect for his talent to amazement over his lingering myth and legacy. "The fact that Jimi was cut down so early, to have that suddenly ripped away is such a downer. It was such a jolt, an instant hole his death created. He wound up becoming canonized, and now he's sort of the presiding spirit and leader of the guitar-god image. "I remember jamming with him at the old Scene Club in New York. He whispered so much when he spoke and talked in code a lot of time. But we didn't have any problems communicating musically. He was a jam fanatic and I wasn't, but he'd get me up for it whenever we shared the stage." On the ultimate guitar-nut stoner hypothetical: Hendrix vs. Eric Clapton: "Hendrix was more of a Buddy Guy type, more of a blues player, and then just when he convinced you he was a bluesman, he'd rip out incredible power riffs. I think Eric's more of a riff king, while Hendrix took more outrageous risks, which Page, myself and Eric didn't tend to do. You're talking about a black blues genius compared to a bunch of white heavy rockers. "The white players of that era have a tribute-like, almost reverent tone to their sound. There's an attention to detail, an overly clean sound, that usually distinguishes them. Even by Cream, I was hearing a very controlled quality in Eric's playing."
One of the reasons Beck never achieved the renown of contemporaries like Page and Clapton is because he rarely sang or aligned himself with groups featuring strong vocalists. But don't expect to hear his pipes any time soon. "Look, I'm 54, so I'm not going to take singing up at this point. I don't like the sound of my voice in a room, let alone over a 10,000 watt P.A. system. "And besides," he adds, "I sort of like to think I have a knack for singing and speaking with my hands."
If there existed a rock guitarist's bible, its "genesis" chapter might read: "In the beginning was the Beck. And Beck looked upon the face of rock and saw that it was dull. So Beck madeth the fuzz-tone, and it was good. Then Beck molded distortion from the darkness and separated feedback from the howling sustained note and was pleased. On the seventh day Beck rested and restored vintage cars." Guitarist Jeff Beck didn't singlehandedly invent the sound of the modern rock guitar, but during his short stint with the Yardbirds, he unleashed so many innovative sounds - miasmic clouds of distortion, sitar-like fuzz satoris, wildly warped sustain tones - that he's regarded as a guitar god. Throughout his episodic career, Beck's virtuosity has sometimes been more impressive than the music it adorns, and that's true of his new LP "Who Else!," a mixed bag of electronica, blues and schmaltz.
But the encyclopedic fretwork is phenomenal. -Rick Reger Apr. 3: 8 pm (SOLD OUT)
As a bunch of air guitar-playing, middle-aged men with '80s haircuts descended upon the Chicago Theatre, some might have wondered which Beck. But only the most myopic musical iconography would place the sold-out crowd there for the alt-rocker. Saturday night, the stage belonged to inventive guitar legend Jeff Beck.
Beck's visit in support of his latest CD, ``Who Else!,'' found the 54-year-old genius in a playful mood. Lean and black-clad, looking pretty much as he did in the 1970s--complete with the hair--Beck captained a musical celebration. During Beck's 90-minute set, classical pianist Andre Watts came to mind. Both men are about the same age, living legends renowned for dazzling technique. And both control their instruments with economical, direct gestures that make you wonder where all that sound, all those notes are coming from. Beck's playing always flowed with songlike expressiveness. You expected astounding guitar pyrotechnics, but his musicality was scintillating. Opening with the techno-rush of ``What Mama Said,'' Beck started slowly, reveling in the song's melodic structure and rhythm rather than spraying solos all over the place, the temptation of lesser guitar deities.
Beck elevated his droll new material through musical insight. ``Psycho Sam'' burbled menacingly, ``Space for the Papa'' included a brief snippet of the classic ``Beck's Bolero,'' and ``Brush With the Blues,'' brought an impossible series of coos, vocal shrieks and skirls from Beck's instrument. And rather than relying upon effects pedals, Beck made it all happen with fingers, imagination and magical manipulation of his cream-colored Stratocaster's vibrato bar. At one point, he even used a folding bottle opener to tickle what absolutely had to be more than the usual six strings.
A languid cover of the Beatles' ``Day in the Life'' became a noisy, distorted tour de force, while mid-'70s rippers such as ``Led Boots,'' ``Blue Wind'' and ``Because We've Ended As Lovers'' found new life through Beck's rough, contemporary boisterousness. His crunchy distortion ruled the roost.
Bandmates Jennifer Batten on guitar, an excessive Steve Alexander on drums, and the slick, steady Randy Hope-Taylor on bass were just hanging on for dear life while having the time of their lives playing with the King. At the end, a well-earned encore of ``Big Block'' found Beck literally on his back, legs in the air, guitar balanced on the bottom of his feet as Batten played it. And through the grins all around, you thought that guitar heroes come and go. But exuberance, virtuosity and pure fun never go out of style.
In the 1960s, the British blues-rock band the Yardbirds birthed the careers of three legendary guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. Of the three, Beck has had the least notoriety; he's never had a top-40 hit after embarking on a solo career in 1968, whereas Clapton has become a pop celebrity and Page a hard-rock icon. Meanwhile, Beck has had trouble keeping a band together, has had notoriously finicky relationships with vocalists and is an indifferent songwriter, frequently relying on outside material.
His post-Yardbirds albums (with "Truth" and "Blow by Blow" the notable exceptions) are strikingly erratic. The recent "Who Else!" isn't a major improvement: Full of mind-boggling moments in an arid, neo-techno setting, it presents a virtuoso talent in search of a little bit of soul and sympathy from his collaborators and producers. But Beck is an absolute monster on stage, as he proved again Saturday at the Chicago Theatre. If Clapton embraced the deep blues and Page the indelible riff, Beck commandeers pure sound. He put on a display of six-string showmanship that left everyone--including his competent band--in the exhaust fumes of his Stratocaster. And he did it without the help of effects pedals or even a pick; thumping the strings with his right thumb, tickling them with his fingers, wielding his whammy bar like a sculptor would a chisel, the 54-year-old virtuoso shaped huge blocks of sound into astounding Technicolor pretzels.
Though the band members were no slouches--bassist Randy Hope-Taylor laid down a thick, steady bottom end, drummer Steve Alexander busily sprayed shrapnel like a Tony Williams wanna-be and guitarist Jennifer Batten pulled out a package of '80s tapping techniques--they were mere window-dressing for Beck's pageant of tone colors. The trouble is, since the Yardbirds, Beck has never worked with any one particular ensemble long enough to achieve a genuine interplay. And so, as is the case with jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins, Beck simply had to zoom past his backing musicians to achieve transcendence.
Occasionally, as with "Blast from the East" or "What Mama Said," the guitarist spun variations on Batten's buzzing rhythm. And his set list favored songs built on solid riffs, such as the snake-charmer motif that propelled "Psycho Sam." But these structures only momentarily contained Beck, who didn't so much play his guitar as tame it, so extreme was the volume level. This gave even the ballads, such as Stevie Wonder's "Cause We've Ended as Lovers" and the Otis Rush tribute "Brush With the Blues" a cavernous grandeur. Without a vocalist to state the melodies, Beck struck individual notes with bell-like clarity, then corrupted them to achieve a singing poignance, or in many cases an otherworldly roar. At its best, the music trembled with unseen violence, threatening to shatter at any moment as Beck dove into "THX 138," "Big Block" and the avant-garde ascensions of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life." He spoke little and indulged the audience in a game of call and response on "Freeway Jam," but none of that was necessary. His solitary splendor was enough.
Jeff Beck is a charter member of the rock guitar-god pantheon. He first ascended in the mid- 1960s with British psychedelic blues band The Yardbirds, following Eric Clapton and preceding a pre-Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page in the group's storied line-up. Then he cut a pair of classic albums with singer Rod Stewart, and released "Blow By Blow" and "Wired," landmark mid-'70s instrumental fusion albums that cemented his reputation as one of rock's premier six-stringers, a master of controlled guitar histrionics. But Beck is a reticent guitar hero. In recent years he has recorded infrequently; the word was he'd rather restore vintage automobiles at his rural estate in England than make new music. Neither of his most recent albums, the 1993 soundtrack "Frankie's House" and the Gene Vincent tribute "Crazy Legs," contained fresh compositions. So merely by its existence, Beck's new "Who Else!" is significant. That the album smokes as it veers from pulsing electronica to sedate electric blues to an Irish folk number makes it all the better. And during a phone interview before the start of his current tour, Beck seemed more than eager to hit the road; he performs Tuesday at the House of Blues. "I'd rather be playing now," Beck said of his current focus. "The cars are always going to be there. I've learned a few skills, and I can go back to that. But the playing starts to go downhill if you don't pay attention. And we don't want that. You do not want to see me onstage being sad, not happening at all." Joining him in his road band are three players who appeared on "Who Else!": Guitarist Jennifer Batten, who spent five years backingMichael Jackson; drummer Steve Alexander, who logged two years with Duran Duran; and session bassist Randy Hope-Taylor. They'll draw from an arsenal of 22 songs, including most of "Who Else!" and Beck's best from over the years. The vintage material has been overhauled to make it more in line with his recent work. The motivation that finally pulled Beck out of the garage and into the studio did not come from within: He had to be nudged. "I've been nudged until I have bruises," Beck said, laughing. "Nobody wanted to get going more than me. If I had had all the material at my behest, I'd probably be boring the s--- out of everybody. But it just doesn't come that easy. I think it's nice to have a regular tour and have people be fond of you. But it's not really my style to overdo things. And maybe we just make the best of the long gaps by delivering something really different when I do go. I'd rather be in that position than outstaying a welcome." Beck depends on other songwriters and musical collaborators to shape his material. He attributes the long delay before "Who Else!" in part to the departure of his longtime drummer and musical foil, Terry Bozzio. It was not until Beck teamed up with guitarist Batten that he found the enthusiasm for his latest project. Still, it was not an easy process. The first batch of music written for the album was shelved. Also, Beck had intended to release a live album recorded during a German tour last year. In the end, only two live cuts, supplemented by studio overdubs, made it onto "Who Else!" "My dream was shot down when we all sat and listened to the tapes," Beck said. "There wasn't enough ambiance, not enough kick-ass live sound about it. I realized we were hopeless, that we had to start again, or take some of the great stuff and goose it up with (studio) trickery. As long as the guitar (parts) are honest and up-front, which I think it probably is, I think people will forgive any of the loops that they might find distasteful underneath." The first two cuts on "Who Else!" pulse with a techno beat, a result of Beck's interest in electronica. "I always listen to these things in clubs and watch people make idiots of themselves jiving and jumping in the air," he said. "And I think, 'What a wasted opportunity. There's a guitar waiting to be played on these tracks and no one's doing it.' You get some screaming pimple-voice on there, or some inane noises that sound like someone left a machine switched on. But there is some excitement there; there's a lot of great stuff going on out in clubland. I didn't want to miss that energy of the Chemical Brothers."
His reputation as an old-school guitar hero aside, Beck prides himself on keeping an ear tuned to current trends. "I don't sit down and listen to Jimi Hendrix reissues," he said. "People think maybe because I come from (that era), that's all I do. Wrong. I'm listening to stuff that will get me twisted enough to write something that has not been done on the Strat before. That's what my job is, really." To that end, he has embraced the latest recording technology, including the ProTools program, which allows users to snip and sample bits of music and then piece it all together. "You've got all kinds of ways to go in and chop your tune up into a million bits; all of a sudden, you've gone in with one song and come out with another," Beck said. "That suits me fine. I'm not a purist in the sense where we all learn a groove and play it. Whatever it takes will be the law according to Jeff. "I try to use the guitar as a voice, with all kinds of nonsense going on behind me. As long as the central arena is the guitar, then we're pretty much on beam."
Mr. Beck set a high standard for the season with a breathtaking series of solos that not only impressed technically, but hit the audience of more than 4,000 in exactly the right place: the heart. Touring to promote Who Else!, his first CD in six years, Mr. Beck was backed by a three-piece band that deftly supported the evening's most important element: his many guitar moods.
The music was all-instrumental, but Mr. Beck's guitar spoke as eloquently as any singer. He played notes that were rounder than balloons, dense with subtext, conveying both joy and pain. If notes wore shoes, he could dress them in stilettos, then biker boots. Stylistically, he comes across as more of a purist than fellow Yardbirds alum Eric Clapton. Where EC is a showman who plays to the crowd, Mr. Beck is a shy but generous host, is happy to let you witness him as he does what he does.
What he did was simply stunning. Elegant and versatile, he switched from heavy to delicate, even within a single song, such as the heart-rending "Brush With the Blues" from the new disc. He also performed a cover of the Beatles' "Day in the Life" that was oddly minimalist, yet appealing; it was enhanced by a light show that evoked the "evolution scene" from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Looking fit in a white T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up to reveal his lean, muscular arms, he exhibited a stage manner that was endearingly humble. When the crowd screamed and cheered, he shrugged modestly and stretched out his hand, as if to say, "What's the big deal?"
The strength of his performance was embodied by the song "Cause We've Ended as Lovers." Among his best-known works, it has a lazy sadness yet is inherently tranquil. Mr. Beck played it straight, then gave it a series of improvised twists and turns that sent the crowd groaning. As the notes eased out into the cool spring night, they got higher and lighter until they soared, like a bird in flight.
Jeff looked great and it seemed like he had a great time on stage - almost rejuvenated in a way. He was clearly enjoying the audience (packed into a small club) and the band. His playing was energetic, alternating between beautiful, long lines on the slow numbers, and total pitbull with a machine gun style on the new tunes - really fierce attacks and ultra distortion. Very fierce and totally macho! The sound system was great and no technical glitches. They played for about two hours, so I've almost had my fill of getting my brains blasted!
Anyway, I envy all of the fans with tickets to this tour - you are going to have a great time. This tour will definitely go down in JB history as one of the greats. Victor Chudowsky, Washington DC
About 2/3 of the way through the show, Jeff tossed his slide into the crowd...what a cool memento somebody got!!!...(rumours outside the show said he gave away the guitar he played on the last encore, but I didn't see it...) I got to see the show from 10th row, stage right, in a venue that holds 2500 or so when it's stuffed to the rafters...I tried to weasel my way into the "meet and greet" that he wasn't doing according to all the event people I pestered), but was politely ejected when I couldn't show my pass...lol...what fan wouldn't have tried?... I managed to locate the new disc about two hours before leaving for the show...thank god I thought to take it with me...almost two hours after the show, Jeff graciously had his van stop while leaving the Tower, so he could sign autographs for the dozen or so fans that braved the cold on just that possibility...
Something else occurred after the show that was really cool while I was waiting...while talking to some guy standing there with me, he mentioned that he had been out front of the theatre about 2 hours before the show, when Jeff popped out to see if anyone was around...(this guy told me that he was one of a couple people just hanging out)...Anyhow, he said that Jeff handed out a few handfuls of promotional picks, and then gave me one...it is inscribed: JEFF BECK "WHO ELSE" IN STORE 3/16/99 on one side, and Fender Medium on the other...(mine is blue, I also saw some red and white ones in this guy's hand)...Not only did I get to see JB in an incredibly intimate venue (on the release date of his new album), and have the stub to remember it with, I also got his autograph (simply inscribed "Jeff") on the CD cover/liner and a JB "pick" dated for the whole event...WAY COOL!!!...
I hope the "larger, more extensive tour later this year" he mentioned during the webcast swings through this part of the country...I'd go to see him again in a heartbeat! One last thing...Although it's incomplete, (as it's compiled from my illegibly scrawled notes and decidedly defective memory) I thought you might be interested in this partial setlist for those who have yet to (or won't get to) see the show...
March 16th, 1999 Tower Theatre Upper Darby, Pa 1) What Mama Said 2) Psycho Sam 3) Brush With The Blues 4) Star Cycle 5)<----this one was from Guitar Shop... 6)<----from Who Else... 7)A Day In The Life 8) Declan 9) THX 138 10) The Pump 11) Led Boots solo here...) 12) Cause We've Ended As Lovers 13) Space For The Papa 14) Angel (Footsteps) 15)<--this one threw me...I'm not sure what it was from... 16)<----from There and Back....(Probably You Never Know, BA) 17) Blue Wind Encores 1) Two Rivers (Probably Where Were You, BA) 2) Big Block 3) Savoy? <----I'm almost certain on this one....my memory REALLY sucks! (Probably Slingshot, BA)Anyway, keep up the great work with the JB sight....
PS. I am all set for the New Orleans Show. I hope you are too. PPs to PS WE ARE!
The band did a beautiful version of the Beatles' "A Day in The Life" with the guitar expressive and gentle and then a furious cacophony in to the bridge. Ms. Batten is as good as everyone has said, and it is a pleaant sight to have Jeff Beck step back and admire her soloing, given his reputation. Toward the end of the show, he played "Because We've Ended..." and on eor two others from the Blow By Blow and Wired days. He encored with a beautiful piece for just the two guitars and left to a rousing ovation. My personal favorite was the third number which was a 12 bar blues, heavily jazz oriented which exhibited a soft touch and chording which one tends to forget in the blaze of the other solos. He's at the top of his game. Thanks for the opportunity to send this and keep up the good work. Dave
What Mama Said Psycho Sam Brush With the Blues Star Cycle Savoy Blast From the East A Day In the Life; Declan THX138 The Pump Blue Wind drum solo Cause We Ended As Lovers Space For the Papa Angel Even Odds; You Never Know Led Boots Where Were You Big Block Sling Shot
What Mama Said Savoy Brush With The Blues Star Cycle Psycho Sam The Pump Blast From The East Slingshot Big Block Cause We've Ended As Lovers Led Boots Angel (Footsteps) Space For The Papa Day in the Life Blue Wind THX138 Declan Where Were You You Never KnowHe played quite a bit of slide, which I haven't heard in recent years (although his technique with the whammy bar is so amazing that sometimes it's hard to tell), and was thoroughly enjoying himself. And the new band excelled in every way. Jennifer Batten (I've heard her CD and she is amazing in her own right) takes a supportive role, but has some room to shine, and provides a unique stage rapport for Beck. Steve Alexander takes over for Terry Bozzio on the drums this time around, and as you may have guessed, is more than worthy. The JB drum chair continues to be a seat of distinction. And Randy Hope-Taylor played bass. Nothing fancy, simply a rhythmic anchor to the madness. Some high points were "A Day in the Life", "Brush With the Blues", and "Where Were You", and in the Connecticut show at the Oakdale Theatre the next day, he quoted the "Star Spangled Banner" in "Space for the Papa" (I think). Seems to have an Austin Powers fetish these days, as well...-- Johnny B
*what mama said *psycho sam *brush with the blues *star cycle *savoy *hip-notica(?) *day in the house *declan *thx138 *the pump>drums *cause we've ended as lovers *space for the papa *angel *even odds *? *blue wind *where were you encore *big block *sling shot
I caught "The Guv'nor" on two nights over the weekend in two very different venues, the smoky, venerable Roseland Ballroom in New York on March 19 and the clean, yuppified Oakdale Theatre somewhere in the middle of Nowhere, Connecticut on the 21st. For those of you who may not have noticed, Jeff does have an opening act, an acoustic-strummin' folkie named Paul Thorn whose PA volume was so low as to be practically nonexistent. Also, his style is completely incompatible with Jeff's, so why bother? A total waste of time. Jeff came out right at 9 on Friday Night with What Mama Said, but this and the next tune, Psycho Sam, were too much for Roseland's acoustics. This band is LOUD and most of Beck's nuances were lost. In fact, Jennifer Batten was higher in the mix than Jeff. Brush with The Blues was next, and the mix was very good from here on in, Jeff's guitar loud and clear. "Brush" was the first big highlight of the night, building up to a solo that was similar in feel to the one on the album but different, definitely improvised on the spot. The amount of freedom and improvisation in the Who Else? material showed a lot of confidence, as well as the fact that over half of the show was new. Nice to know that an old dog like Beck believes in his new stuff and doesn't pander to lunkheads who expect him to do Shapes of Things, Over Under Sideways Down, Hi Ho Silver Lining and Going Down every night.
Of the new songs played, only Angel (footsteps), a pale first cousin of Guitar Shop's Behind The Veil, failed to convince. Everything else was much more intense than on the album, with accentuated dynamics. The harder stuff like Blast From the East, THX 138, Space for The Papa and Even Odds, came across like techno-metal, densely packed and a hundred times heavier than Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica combined. Dynamics played a key role in the set list, the hard stuff almost always followed by something softer. But on both nights Jeff seemed to be more interested in rocking out and very much into having another guitarist to trade off with. Jennifer Batten covers a lot of ground, doubling/harmonizing with Jeff, triggering MIDI synth patches, old fashioned rhythm guitar, and a few solos. Check out the way she handles the ascending keyboard lines in Blue Wind. Amazing!
Jeff approached the microphone twice at Roseland and backed off without saying anything before finally introducing the band near the end of the show. During the last encore (which was Big Block, I think), he ripped all the strings off his Strat at the same time. He'd obviously enjoyed himself.
Sunday's show in Connecticut had a different feel. The audience was seated and from my center 17th row seat, the sound was perfect for the whole show. This time, What Mama Said and Psycho Sam could be appreciated, and every squonk, squeak, honk and divebomb of Jeff's Strat was right there. Brush With the Blues was even better than at Roseland, JB really getting into it. Jeff definitely used a pick for the main riff in Led Boots. Day In The Life is a big surprise in the set, but in Wallingford there seemed to be a slight lack of communication between Beck and drummer Steve Alexander on the "orgasmic" bits connecting the different sections of the song and at the end. It was very nice to hear a few things from There And Back. The monster funk groove and speeded up ending of You Never Know kicked truckoads of booty. Big Block was insane, with the most schizoid guitar solo I've ever heard, incorporating a bar or two of Star Spangled Banner before spinning off into aggressive, angular dissonance. Jeff's mastery of the whammy and crystal clear tone showed in Where Were You. The only complaint I have is that this beautiful tune should be extended a bit. It's too short! Blue Wind finished off the night. In one of few mistakes, Jeff flubbed the main melody badly once, but redeemed himself in the solo. Jennifer quoted the melody of Freeway Jam, but Beck waved her off. Jeff expresses his dislike for perhaps his best-known instrumental in the new issue of Guitar World, so now we know why.
Setlists: Almost identical both nights, but with a few differences. Roseland's show was longer, and Blue Wind finished off the main set (I think), then after Where Were You, Big Block and Sling Shot closed out. In Wallingford, You Never Know was the set closer, then Where Were You, Big Block and Blue Wind as encores. Sling Shot was not played in Wallingford. Also no sign of the rearranged Bolero at either show. Tech observations: Jeff has only one effect onstage, a flanger he used for Led Boots. Other than that, any delay or reverb is from the board. The better acoustics in Wallingford helped accentuate the stereo panning and slapback echo/digi delay used throughout the night. A nice touch, and very well done.
Supporting players: Randy Hope-Taylor and Steve Alexander are technically proficient and rock solid but I found Alexander's solo completely unnecessary and not particulary musical. His tom-toms sound too similar, as if they were all tuned to the same note. Jennifer Batten is a discreet, forceful presence. She never overplayed, effortlessly switched between MIDI and guitar and complemented Beck very well. It's obvious from their interaction onstage that Jeff gets off on what she does. The fans: A little bit more into it at Roseland than Connecticut. Still, Jeff received several standing ovations in Connecticut and at least three hats were thrown onstage. He donned a snap-brim hat and did a brief Gene Kelly (or was it Bob Fosse?) during one standing O.
Lastly, I know I'm preaching to the converted here, but if he's playing anywhere within 500 miles, GO!! You'll be amazed. And Jeff -- please, please, please come back soon with the Allmans, Santana, or all by yourself. Best regards, --Dave Anderson
A brief note on my seeing him,Fillmore West in San Francisco,one tour was 6 nights in a row while he was doing TRUTH,3 nights on another,can't remember how many others there.Almost saw him in Germany in the early 70's,flu stopped me.Long time between Jeff fixes,with Santana in Sacramento a couple of years ago.Having moved to the sticks,I don't always pay attention to who is playing in the outer areas. Great web page by the way,hope someone sends in the song list from the other night! - Frank Hayes,Gras Valley,Ca
We were impressed with his voice. The acoustics were primo for his set and we were curious to hear how they were going to be for Jeff and company! When the curtains opened they started with What Mama Said and it was power all the way!!! The band were into a few bars of the song when Jeff came from behind the amp backline and the crowd went nuts! The set list was pretty much the same as the rest of the tour with Big Block and Where were you as the encore. It took a couple of songs before the mix opened up and your could hear all the parts buts thats typical with rock shows. I have been to many Jeff Beck concerts over the years and I can say that Jeffs playing is the most intense thats its ever been. His drop dead harmonics and whammy use are amazing and the power is there!! A Day in The Life was stunning and when he sneaked in a little Bolero during the set it was met with mucho approval too bad it was just a taste we wanted to hear more of that!What impressed me is how much Jeff and the band were having fun and it reflected in the music. Jennifer really pushes the band and seeing her and Jeff interact was great. She is an amazing player. I have her cds but this is the first time I have seen her live.Great midi work and very dexterious with the pedals and switches! Hey what can I say about Steve Alexander he was smokin on the drums!! Jeff knows how to pick drummers and he was spending a lot of his time playing right in front of the riser getting that good drum vibe. Both Steve and Randy took a solo during the set most excellent!! Randy was setting down solid bass riffs through out the show. The band was super tight and was starting and stopping on a dime breaking up the songs at a amazing pace. The machine gun licks Jeff was pumping out were jaw droppers. He played a lot of slide through out the show and for the people up front he was giving quite a few away! Too bad he didnt toss any up to the balcony! Oh well.
One moment was interesting, during the encore Jeff was playing Where Were You and he must of not liked the Strat he was using because he started walking to the side and threw it down to the stage. Needless to say he had another Strat in hand to finish the song!! Yes the fire is burning still. Well to sum things up it was a great show, the band was having fun and it was cool to see all the fan support which put a smile on the face of Jeff!
P.S. A friend of mine saw Neal Schon in the lobby and said hello and shook his hand. Obviously hes a fan and for those who dont know, he collaborated with Jan Hammer on the Schon & Hammer session. Hmmm. I wonder who else was there? Regards, MusicWard@aol.com
What can you say about a guy who sings with a guitar? Jeff does not use guitar picks, mainly just his thumb. He played the same new white Stratocaster all night, except he did change it out for an identical Strat for a song or two. How he keeps his guitars in tune, is a mystery, because he is all over the whammy bar and slapping the thing for incredible noises. But every note is always perfectly intonated. To understand Jeff Beck, you have to watch young boys at play. They take their toy trucks and cars and make beeping and gear shifting noises. They hold their toy planes and dive bomb them through the air with vocalizations. They shoot their little pals with air machine guns. With little boys, it's all about who can make the coolest noises. That's why you'll see 90% males in the audience at a Jeff Beck show. But this evening, female guitarist Jennifer Batten was holding her own onstage with Beck. She is known for her tapping skills and has been Michael Jackson's lead guitarist. Using a midi device, she played all the keyboard parts with her guitar, and had no trouble keeping up with Jeff at all. Still, there is only one Jeff Beck. Jeff never spoke a word on the mike all evening, he let bassist Randy Hope-Taylor handle the introductions. The guitar did all of Jeff's talking. I would have made a set list, but I don't remember the names of the songs, even though I know all the guitar parts. And that's typical, I think. I'm a serious Beck fan, yet I don't remember the names of the tunes. I don't know if a non-guitarist can fully appreciate what he does, but all the songs are very hummable and every note goes somewhere or says something. It's not about notes per second, although he can do that at will. It's all about sheer jaw dropping guitar sounds. If you play guitar, you are just going to laugh your ass off all night, because how the hell did he just do that? For one song, he took a slide, held it like a pencil, and played the melody note-perfect way above the frets, up over the pickups. Then he tossed the slide out to some lucky geek in the front row. (I was in the second row!) It was truly, a Star Trek convention for guitar geeks. There was even a drum solo by Steve Alexander, who is just technically, unfathomable. We're talking a bionic Billy Cobham, and he's just a little white British dude. You would expect only the best to play with Beck, because he's a perfectionist, and doesn't really even seem like a very nice guy. I mean, he threw a couple temper tantrums during the set. But he also seems to have an incredible sense of humor. One guitar trick I've never seen before: Jeff held the guitar upside down behind his head, towards Jennifer Batten, who came over and tapped out a two-handed solo on Jeff's guitar, then she tapped on his head until he burst out laughing.
People gripe because Jeff Beck doesn't get the recognition given to Clapton or Page. Baloney! Beck is worshipped, and rightfully so. Beck makes Clapton look like a tired old pop singer these days!
(1)WHAT MAMA SAID (2)PSYCHO SAM-Jeff's playing was excellent. When I heard first two songs, I felt like driving the freeway. (3)BRUSH WITH THE BLUES (4)STAR CYCLE (5)SAVOY (6)BLAST FROM THE EAST (7)A DAY IN THE LIFE (8)DECLAN - Jennifer's MIDI guitar made beautiful sounds and Jeff's guitar tone was sweet. Steve played keybaord. (9)THX 138 -Rhythmic sound. Steve's drum play was good. (10)THE PUMP (11)LED BOOTS/DRUM SOLO (12)CAUSE WE'VE ENDED AS LOVERS (13)SPACE FOR THE PAPA (14)ANGEL(FOOTSTEPS) - Jeff threw his slide into the crowd. (15)EVEN ODDS (16)YOU NEVER KNOW/BASS SOLO (17)BLUE WIND - Audience sang second verse. Great! (18)WHERE WERE YOU - encore - They did a beautiful duet. (19)BIG BLOCKAfter the show, I went to backstage and met the members. Thanks to Dick and Jennifer. I gave Jennifer Jeff's Japanese tour programs of the '78, '80 & '86 shows. I got nervous and I can't speak English well to Jeff and Jennifer, But I spent a pleasant time. they were very nice.
(1)WHAT MAMA SAID (2)PSYCHO SAM (3)BRUSH WITH THE BLUES (4)STAR CYCLE (5)SAVOY (6)BLAST FROM THE EAST (7)A DAY IN THE LIFE (8)DECLAN (9)THX 138 (10)THE PUMP (11)LED BOOTS/DRUM SOLO (12)CAUSE WE'VE ENDED AS LOVERS (13)SPACE FOR THE PAPA (14)ANGEL(FOOTSTEPS) (15)EVEN ODDS (16)YOU NEVER KNOW/BASS SOLO (17)BLUE WIND --------------- (18)WHERE WERE YOU (19)BIG BLOCKThanks Toshi You are the best!
May 26, Aichi Koseinenkin Hall, Nagoya (1700 seats) Audience were waiting for goes up the show with clapping their hands. Their eyes were glued to Jeff's play when it start at 19:20. Jeff and Jennifer were in good form today too. Jeff's whammy bar play, tapping play, harmonics, only left hand play were excellent in BRUSH WITH THE BLUES. Their dual guitar play in BLAST FROM THE EAST imagine me the Yardbirds era with Jimmy Page. Jeff raised his arm and kindled audience in the intro of LED BOOTS. When Jeff played SPACE FOR THE PAPA, he hurt his right middle finger. He had middle finger in his mouth many times while he playing PAPA. But he played BECK'S BOLERO perfectly. Then he reached his guitar out to a audience and let him played ending of PAPA ! Jeff used a pick in EVEN ODDS, YOU NEVER KNOW and BLUE WIND. When Jeff played WHERE WERE YOU, he blew on his guitar neck and non-skid powder was blown off. In the ending of BIG BLOCK, when Jeff lift up his guitar on his shoulder, then Jennifer come up and tapped his guitar and crumpled his hair ! Audience were jubilant.
May 28, Fukuoka Shimin Hall (1800 seats), Jeff appeared chewing gum, he looked relax. He smiled and waved to audience after playing PSYCHO SAM. Tonight, Jeff used a Fender Relic Telecaster on ANGEL same as he used it on WHO ELSE!. When he played YOU NEVER KNOW, he snapped a string. But he continued to play. He didn't change his guitar, and played BLUE WIND too with 5 strings! when Jeff appeared in encore, he shook hands with an audience in the first row. I think, his finger was healed. But, he gave a lifeless guitar play in some tunes tonight.
May 29, Zepp Osaka (2200 all standing), Jeff's guitar play was extremely great tonight. Jeff raised his fist over his head and smiled sometimes. When Jennifer started the intro of BLAST FROM THE EAST, Jeff couldn't play it. Because his guitar was switched off. They started play it again. Jeff used Telecaster on ANGEL. In encore, BIG BLOCK, Jeff had a brief play of LAYLA. Then Jeff lift up his guitar on his shoulder and Jennifer tapped his guitar. It was wonderful ending.
May 30, Osaka Festival Hall (2700 seats), Tonight show was better than 5/28 and not so good as 5/29. Steve took up the Japanese traditional hand clapping rhythm in his drum solo. They finished CAUSE WE'VE ENDED AS LOVERS, Steve must made a mistake of switching, the tape of ANGEL started. Jeff was hasty took his slide. So he didn't use Telecaster tonight. And he didn't play BOLERO in next PAPA. when a string snapped in the ending of BLUE WIND, he changed his guitar properly tonight.
(1)WHAT MAMA SAID (2)PSYCHO SAM (3)BRUSH WITH THE BLUES (4)STAR CYCLE (5)SAVOY (6)BLAST FROM THE EAST (7)A DAY IN THE LIFE (8)DECLAN (9)THX 138 (10)THE PUMP (11)LED BOOTS/DRUM SOLO (12)CAUSE WE'VE ENDED AS LOVERS (13)ANGEL(FOOTSTEPS) (14)SPACE FOR THE PAPA (15)EVEN ODDS (16)YOU NEVER KNOW/BASS SOLO (17)BLUE WIND ----------------- (18)WHERE WERE YOU (19)BIG BLOCK
May 31, Tokyo International Forum (5000 seats), Jeff back to Tokyo and play three nights in this hall. The show started at 19:15, Jeff wore black T-shirt and played white strato as usual. He was in good form tonight although four days running. STAR CYCLE, SAVOY, BLAST FROM THE EAST, A DAY IN THE LIFE were so nice and DECLAN was superb tonight. He used telecaster on ANGEL, and used slide bar in his right hand in skilled play. After played BLUE WIND, Jeff gave his guitar to an audience in the first row! But a staff took it away from him immediately.
June 2, Tokyo International Forum, To my amazement, tonight' show had TV shooting ! Broadcast date is July or August. Jeff wore black shirt. And his action was showy tonight. His slide play,harmonics technique, whammy bar play were so cool. When they played LED BOOTS, Jeff had a brief play of LAYLA. After the drum solo, Jeff appeared in white T-shirt. Audience couldn't sing second verse in BLUE WIND tonight, because a string snapped in the just second verse of BLUE WIND. In the ending of BIG BLOCK, Jeff plucked strings from his guitar ! They greeted audience with a smile put their hands on their shoulder. I'm looking forward to broadcasting this show.
June 3, Tokyo International Forum, This is the last show in Japan. I went all nine shows, but this last show was the most spectacular yet ! Jeff wore sunglasses and black T-shirt tonight. Jeff's guitar play was just superb. Jennifer's play on YOU NEVER KNOW and BLUE WIND was simply fabulous. Steve's drum play was so powerful. Randy's bass solo was incredible. I found Randy played backing guitar used fender piezo-electric stratocaster on DECLAN. Jeff took off his sunglasses before playing THX 138. Jeff had a brief play of LAYLA in THE PUMP. Jeff didn't play BOLERO in PAPA, and he didn't throw his slide tonight. He blew a kiss and smiled sometimes. Jeff's play on WHERE WERE YOU was sheer perfection. Jeff got a flower bouquet which had threw by the fan. At the end of the show, they did Japanese traditional hand clapping.
Thank you very much Jeff, Jennifer, Randy and Steve for fabulous shows. I spent pleasant two weeks. I shall never forget meeting Jeff at the backstage on May 23. Thanks to Dick, Jennifer, Annette and Jeff Beck....Toshi
Hello, Jeff's Japanese tour was all done. I went to see :
May 23 at Tokyo Bay N.K.Hall, Chiba May 31 at International Forum, Tokyo June 3 at International Forum, TokyoAnd from visitors to my site, I got a lot of reports about this tour. So here they are...
Numbers and orders are the same at all concerts. Set List : 1) What Mama Said 2) Psycho Sam 3) Brushes With The Blues 4) Star Cycle 5) Savoy 6) Blast From The East 7) A Day In The Life 8) Declan 9) THX 138 10) The Pump 11) Led Boots - Drums Solo 12) 'Cause We've Ended As Lovers 13) Space For The Papa 14) Angel (Footsteps) 15) Even Odds - You Never Know 16) Blue Wind ---------- 17) Where Were You 18) Big Block* May 23th, 1999 at Tokyo Bay N.K.Hall, I visited this hall for the first time. It stands right near the Tokyo Disneyland. The hall was not so wide. The show started around 17:30. The light was turned off and in a few seconds, Jennifer Butten started playing with right-hand tapping. Right after the voice "Did you hear what mama said..." , Jeff slowly walked into the stage. Jennifer on the right, Randy Hope Taylor on the left, Steve Alexander on behind, Jeff was standing in the center of the stage. On the wall behind them, there were some lines. First I didn't know what they were. But gradually noticed that they were "The road". When they started playing "A Day In The Life", the light show had started on the wall. It meant "The sky". The show of May 23 was very loud. Jeff sometimes walked to his Marshall and turned it up. But not so loud on May 31 & June 3. Steve played drums solo on "Led Boots", Randy played bass solo on "You Never Know". Call & response on "Blue Wind" was not so good.
* May 31, 1999 at Tokyo International Forum This hall was in front of "Yurakucho" station, right near "Tokyo" station. There were too many "Unofficial ticket distributers" around the hall. Two years ago, I went to see Bob Dylan's show here. The concert started at 19:20. Arrangements and directions were all alike May 23. Only difference I found was that Jeff played Telecaster on "Angel". From May 28 to 31, they travelled whole through Japan. So maybe they were tired. Many mistakes between Jeff and rhythm section were heard. But "Brush With The Blues" was excellent.
* June 3, 1999 at Tokyo International Forum, This concert was one of the best I've seen. He played main riff for Eric Clapton's "Layra" during "The pump". On "Big Block", he held his Strato up on his head, and Jennifer scratched it. On "Where Were You", Jeff blew a smoke from his mouth when the first theme was done. After the show, they did "San-bon-jime", a series of hand clapping that Jepanese do when everything's done well.
* Others, Some people say the best was at Zepp Osaka, May 29. That hall is "All-standing room" and not so wide, I heard. While they were touring, some cheap CD-R bootlegs were already in store. Also I heard that one day Jennifer appeared in West Shinjuku, famous bootleg town in Tokyo. She bought many bootleg CDs and videos. Some people have seen a video package written "Jeff Beck" in her large bag.
At 8:50PM Jeff and band took the stage to a huge reception. Opening of course with the almost industrial beat of 'What Mama Said'. The stage configuration is somewhat different than pictures of seen of the Euro and South American tours. Randy Hope-Taylor is audience/left, next is Jeff in front of his Marshall JCM 2000DSL head and three Marshall bottoms which on a riser. Next is Steve Alexander on a two foot riser behind a massive Sonor drum kit and then at audience/right is Jennifer Batten in front of two Peavey keyboard amps which are each resting on two Peavey 4X12 bottoms. Jeff is playing one of two of the white Fender Strats that he used exclusively this night. The Strats aren't white, white but rather what Fender calls vintage white which is more of a cream color. They have Strat Plus style whammy bars and roller nuts but now Jeff is using stock Strat pickups, no longer Lace Sensors (more on this later). Behind the band is a projected graphic that looks like the wide open road. A pair of lines converging to a point on the horizon with a dotted white line running up the middle. At times on different songs the top third of the graphic changes from different patterns, some almost psychedelic when 'A Day In The Life' was played. I've seen my share of Beck shows and this is a first, animated graphics behind the band.
Anyway, the show....here's the setlist with the details I can remember.
After the show three of my closest boyhood friends and their wives and I headed down towards backstage for our first talk with Jeff since the release of 'Who Else?' and my first ever face to face meeting with Jennifer Batten. Also while waiting to be escorted to the backstage area I also got to meet two other hard core Beck fans, Mike Higgens and Bob Wiesberg, who we've written to for years but never met. Soon we were escorted from the right side of the stage, down a narrow flight of stairs to a smallish room beneath the stage. Every so often you could hear a loud 'bang' overhead as the road crew tore down the stage. First to enter was Jennifer Batten who immediately went over and talked to a group of older people. I think they were members of drummer Steve Alexander's family. After several minutes I caught Jennifer's eye by waving a 'Sharpie' pen and asked her to sign my 'Who Else?' CD. What can I say? She is just a marvelous person, very friendly and humble. I asked her how the tour was going and if she was having a good time. She said, "God! This is a dream, playing with one of my heroes." I told her a liked the Austin Power's 'Oh Behave' during 'Psycho Sam', that movie is great. She said, "Yeah, we watch it a lot on the bus!".
Next up was Steve Alexander, freshly showered and a very nice guy as well. At this point I see Al Dutton, Jeff road manager come in with a big plastic tub full of beer. "Alright Al!!" we all say, Al, always the perfect host. Soon after Jeff appears, looking fit and still very up and happy about the show. He really looks like he's having a great time on this tour. The room is all abuzz and all the usual 'Great show' and other greetings were exchanged. After a few moments since I was the only one of my friends to have spoken to Jeff for any time before, I introduced myself and them to Jeff. Again, I mentioned that we were all friends of Dick Wyzanski and Jeff replied, "Oooo, Dick Wyzanski, the guy who knows more about me than me." with a laugh and a smile. I have no idea if Jeff remembered me from the '95 tour, he probably didn't, but you would have never known it. He was very cordial and gave all the guys in my party a hearty handshake. Around a table, we all asked Jeff to sign copies of our CD's. I gave him my other 'Sharpie' (Jennifer still had my other one.) and he very graciously signed every one. At one point my friend Ed Warnock's wife Christina, who was a little starstruck by this whole thing (like who wasn't) asked Jeff if it was alright if she shaked his hand too (she hadn't before). Instead Jeff walked up and gave her a great big bear hug. I think I saw her knees buckle a little bit!
I'm trying to remember what questions I asked of Jennifer and Jeff and in what order but when you experience the thrill of just being in the same room with people like this, the afterglow makes it all a little fuzzy but here's what I recollect. First I asked Jennifer the most important question that was on my mind. "Is that bulldog that's with Jeff in the CD booklet his dog and what's it's name?" "No," Jennifer said, "that dog belongs to someone who was just on the street next to the taxi cab driver's diner where the photo on the back of the CD was shot." Later I asked Jeff, "So, that's not your dog huh?" He said, "No." "But you do have dogs if I remember." "Yeah" he said. If I remember I think he has an Alsation but I could be wrong. Don't you love how I ask all the important questions?
Next I asked Jeff what had happened to the Lace Sensor pickups he used to use on his Strats. I said, "I noticed that even 'Dick Small' (his old green Strat with Little Richard's autograph on it) no longer had them either." (This can be seen on the cover of 'Guitar' magazine. In fact this got me wondering and if you go to the pix section of this page, you can see that Dick Small is Lace Sensorless on the photo of Jeff onstage during the South American tour.) Jeff said, "Well, when that guitar was repaired whoever did the work just put those on." A point of note here, in the 'Guitar' magazine article the writer notes that the body of the guitar we know as Dick Small looked as if at some point it had been broken right through. I said to Jeff, "Oh yeah, I remember reading in a guitar mag that the body of Dick Small had been broken right through, I'm just curious, how exactly do you break the body of a Stratocaster right through?" Jeff said, "I don't know you just kind of throw it." while making a gesture of throwing his hands up in the air. OK....somewhere in here Mike Higgens asked Jeff how he liked the Marshall heads he's using. "I love them, they're great." he said. I asked Jennifer if she's had anymore broken guitars since her last airline incident. She said, "No, in fact the Washburn I'm playing now is the one that got broke. I got the headstock glued back on." I asked her about her amp setup. She told me that the Peaveys are keyboard amps (I guess for the Midi stuff). For her guitar she's using a Digitech unit.
As time went on I kept snapping photos every so often and then came a point where I was standing in front of Jeff and Jennifer. I decided to try and give my camera to a friend so I could get a shot of me with Jeff or both Jeff and Jennifer but at this point the two JB's started the following interchange and I said, forget it, I've got to get this on film!
I told them then and there these would be on the internet soon and they seemed amused. It's really obvious that they really like and repect each other. Soon it was time to leave and just at this time in comes Jeff's manager Ernest Chapman. Ernest can be kind of formidable figure because he's a very distingushed looking Brit but we broke the ice really quick since he remembered me from our meeting at the opening show of the '95 tour. He was very affable and very kind to answer a barrage of questions a group of us had for him. The scene was a little odd really, a group of us sort of surrounded Ernest with him in the middle of a circle. We asked how the tour and the CD were going. He said, "The tour is going great, the CD though has been out less than a week." We mentioned the Letterman appearance which was going to occur the following Monday. "Yeah, we're going to play one song on the show only. Jeff won't be playing with Paul and the band and we won't be doing any of that interviewing nonsense." After seeing the show we all know why that was. Jeff did sit down with Dave at the end of the show only to answer one question which showed how totally clueless Letterman is. I then asked Ernest, "So, is this CD (Who Else?) the final one that Jeff owes Epic?" Ernest replied, "No, actually I think we owe them two more. We signed in (I can't remember what year he said) for a twelve album deal, I believe that this is number ten." I've got to get Dick to figure this out, this is beyond me. Anyway, Ernest said it was time to go and we all said goodnight. And what a night it was. Everyone I was with was just buzzing as we walked down an alley on the side of the theater. Down the alley we could see Jeff's custom tour bus and waiting along the way were a couple of wayward autograph seekers, I hope they were a tenth as lucky as we were.
Wondering where I was going to see Jeff Beck on this tour, I pondered my options seeing there were no immediate southeast venues. Washington, opening night? Been there done that and besides what if a late winter storm came up? Boston or NY? Same possibility plus son's baseball scheduling conflicts. So I sent Bill up to Boston to get the old Boston Tea Party 68 -69 delegation from Marblehead together to storm Jeff at the Orpheum (yeah, about twenty of us, see above)while I plotted a strike from the rear guard in none other than a birthplace of the blues, New Orleans.
New Orleans is rich in Jeff Beckology. Wasn't it here that he did his old mate Kim Gardner that '74 Badger favour? Wasn't it the New Orleans group The Meters that wrote the funky 'Cissy Strut' that Jeff got hoodwinked into recording during the infamous "music from rippoffsville" Free Creek sessions? And lords of the house wasn't it indeed here in New Orleans in '76 on my birthday December 8th that Mr. Beck, after having falsely started 'Earth Is Still Our Only Home' that he stepped up to the mic and confessed "I've f * * k e d up the itinerary folks!"? Or - was that it was the shortest drive - about 10 hours!?
After several frantic calls to London (God Bless You Teresa), Ralph Baker phoned me on the Thursday before the show and it was 'Oh When The Saints Come Marchin' In' all the way to Vieux Carre. Being a glutton for punishment, Bill joined me as the family and I picked him up at the airport Monday night. We checked into the St. Louis Hotel, about a 5 minute stroll from the House of Blues. The only bad omen, the local French Quarter voodooers were able to whammy on us was the news that the next day (on Tuesday) there would be little or no phone service due to computer upgrades so as it turned out our planned lunch liason with Jennifer Batten never materialized, although she later told us that she did in fact leave a message. This hex however was immediately overturned by the fact that just as we turned the hotel TV on Mark McGuire hit his 1st home run of the season. Oh boy! (Yawn) We were in for a great show! About noon the next day as Bill got some much needed shut eye, (hey, I was out late....my first night in the French Quarter.)I went down to The House of Blues to reconoiter . The semi rig which was to have started unloading around 10AM, looked like it had just dumped it's payload. I walked over and shot the chalkboard HOB marquis and then inspected the freight.
Chances for stand up comedy abounded here as witnessed by an equipment box fashioned like a coffin that was marked RIP, and a roadcase marked Simon Phillips! Hah! Venturing inside the club, I introduced myself to production manager Mike M. who was very pleasant as were all the staff at HOB. We all went back around 2pm to take some photos of the stage setups. Only managing a few shots due to the hectic late nature of things, we were greeted by Ravi who is Jeff's stage production tour manager and also responsible for the rather humorous set list name changes during the summer '98 Euro tour which we published back in the 7/28/98 What's New. He told us to stop back later. I asked if they were doing a soundcheck and his reply was a shrug and an "I hope so!."
Back to the hotel (could have used a bit more sleep), a quick (by New Orleans standards) bite at TGI Fridays ( yeah, I know it's touristy but Bill did have Jumbalaya) and back to the HOB around 5ish. We sauntered back into the club to bass lines from Randy Hope Taylor and some opening bytes of 'Star Cycle'. We were greeted by tour band Mr. 'make-it-happen' Al Dutton. "Hi Dick Good to see you. Listen, Jeff isn't having ANYBODY in at the soundchecks on this tour so could you come back in a while. We of course said no problem and went down to the corner pub to sit it out for awhile amidst repeated juke box takes of 'All Along The Watchtower' as if Jimi was smiling down at Jeff from Heaven, Across the street was a midget beckoning in tourists at what turned out to be the place where Jeff and the band had gone the night before. It's owned by Levon Helm (The Band)(it's called Levon Helm's American Classic Cafe) and his band was playing there. A few more minutes and we saw Al come out of the HOB and was joined on the street by Jeff's manager Ralph Baker who I had not actually seen in person since the '89 Guitar Shop tour. After they had gone away and then came back we made our way back to the venue and asked for Ralph. Smiling and upbeat he came out of the club and chatted with us for about half an hour. Before we had a chance to begin our first conversation, an autograph pro came up and approached Ralph to which he held the line Jeff has been saying all tour. "Jeff's not signing any more guitars period! We asked how things were going and Ralph indicated the show and the audience receptions had never been better. He was bothered by the internet however " Not you guys (nodding to us) but there's too much misinformation and security leaks going on. Anybody can write anything they want and sign a name to it as if it's so. Jennifer is really upset about it." I interrupted him to say that we had already asked Epic pull some bad stuff off their message board to which Ralph responded "yeah, I'm going to have a little talk with Aaron (Epic) on Monday." Yeah, I told him we had a guest book on our page for a while and although most of the people were polite and had something intelligent to say, the few morons made the whole thing a pain. He also recounted an incident at the Dallas airport where they switched planes only to find out that fans and autograph pros had found out and were waiting for them.
We told Ralph that the Rolling Stone cybercast was owned by an outside company so the archives for it aren't available yet to which he responded "Good!" After telling him that we were feverishly trying to keep up with all the media reports on Jeff this time around Ralph responded that it was all because Jeff did what he was supposed to. At one point Ralph said, Jeff literally spent a whole week at the office fielding phone interviews from the press. Of course right afterwards he kidded us that we didn't have the days USA Today on us which had a thing on Who Else? Jeff of course. The only question of import that I can remember asking Ralph was what was happening after this tour, "We know he's going to Japan in May that perhaps some European dates in July? We heard something was already announced for Paris in July." I said. Ralph answered, "No, after Japan there are no plans for Europe but rather the possibility of more U.S. dates in the summer." "Will it be a 'shed' tour like in '95?" I asked. "No, we're going to try and book venues and places Jeff hasn't been before, we really want to attract the adult comtempory market and get some airplay and we don't think we would get it with those venues." With an everpresent professional manner he indicated that it was time for him to go to work and that although it didn't look like there was going to be time before the show to take more stage photos and chat with the guitar tech ( A new to Jeff guy who had worked with Clapton and had done Jennifer's guitars on the 98 shows by the name of Dan,Dan The Guitar Man) that we could take some quickly after the show. Ralph noticed the rather heavy bag I was carrying around ( My Beck bag full of archives as well as presents for Jeff and Jennifer) and offered to take it up to the dressing rooms for me which was very nice. (Ralph I hope it didn't drag you down on the way up the stairs! Hah!) As he was disappearing from site he did mention that they were adding two more dates in Japan and that the US again was a good possibility for July - places they missed this time around like Florida as he winked and laughed. We were told that the passes for the evening had not been made out yet so we waited a few more minutes to nail that situation down. Just then Jeff darted out of the entrance, quickly waved hi to everyone, did sign a CD or two from fans on his way to the waiting limo. A rather hurried lady walking up to me asked me if I was Dick Wyzanski and after I nodded stuck her hand out and said "Good to meet you finally after all the letters (calls) and emails. I'm Jennifer." She wanted to stay and chat but was whisked into the limo and off they went for awhile. I did get a quick hello from Jennifer too, she recognized me from Boston and I was able to give copies of the three photos of her and Jeff seen above.
At 7PM the family and I went up the stairs at the musicians entrance to the hallway lounge outside the two dressing rooms - one for Paul Thorn, the opening act, and one for Jeff and the band. This was a SMALL club and walkspace was at a premium . After securing a photo pass for the HOB which was no easy task as it took the intervention of Jeff's people to get it, Bill decided to take the ground floor while I opted to hang out upstairs as my son HAD to stay there (drinking age laws) and my wife was getting aquainted with Paul Thorn's girlfriend who was very amicable and talkative. About 8:15PM Paul went onstage and his girlfriend let us into his dressing room which was very strategic because it had a direct entrance to the balcony area and it had three swing out windows located directly over the stage. Both Bill and I were able to get a good shot of Jeff's band setup from that vantage point behind the main stage curtain. Paul Thorn is a very funny guy. He weaves awkward relationship tales and dirty ditties around some simple but effective acoustic blues and relates to his audience (and Jeff's) very well . After a 45 minute set, he was off and the crowd started to roar. I was off out Paul's door to the balcony area and climbed down via my photo pass to the VIP seating (the only seating in that club) area. A very nice local gal let me take her stool for photo positioning in trade for some photos (thanks Melanie!) No waiting. No nonsense. This wasn't Jeff Beck slithering onstage after some preplanned lenghty show intro. Bang . Jeff and the band took the stage together and within seconds were grooving heavily into 'What Mama Said'. These guys are for real. Their rythyms are as tight as the Meters ever were. Jeff's sonic blasts were mixed perfectly from the start and Thank God Showco decided to have mercy on this 1000 person at the most club. Loud enough for the groove Jeff wants but not earplug loud. Jennifer's fingertaps were as purposeful and audible as her performance on Letterman. Ditto for Randy's finger poppin and Steve Alexander's frantic and raw drums.
I kept looking down at the front row of squashed guys leaning up against the stage. You could tell they were all guitar players and were constantly smiling and shaking their heads knowingly at every move Jeff made, especially during 'Psycho Sam' as Jeff did the slide whistling technique for the first of several times that evening. No matter how many times you hear 'Brush With Blues', every true Beck fan gets that tingling down their spine and what more fitting venue to hear it in than the House Of Blues. 'Savoy' is always one of my favorites and again the mix was just right to hear the full spectrum and bite of Jeff's rockabilly chords and Jennifer's frantic Tony Hymas keyboard run done to the "T". After every number Jeff wanted to come to the mic as the ovations were tumultuous but except for once stopped just short of it. Always living on the edge, Jeff played around with some new inventive hi-lo licks on another old crowd favorite 'The Pump'. Several times during the show, Jeff showed his appreciation to the fans by letting them strum his guitar strings for a second and throw his slide to the crowd which actually had to be done several times as it kept bouncing back onstage! 'Blast from the East' and 'THX 138' have finally become dynamic showpieces instead of the jams that they were during their formative phases during the South American Tour. Especially noticable were the tinny rockabilly sounding 'Blast from the East' stacatto notes played by Jennifer. No one can milk an audience like Jeff Beck. Every pause and sustain on 'Day In the Life' was wrung out to the fullest by Jeff the master. Whether It was that or the surefire high wails of 'Syreeta', or the angelical high slides of 'Angel Footsteps', or even the nice Steve Alexander keyboard touch combined with the Jeff sustain of 'Declan', it's the slow stuff that gets me the most. His Strat speaks. He simply is Who Else. Some people have knocked 'Even Odds' as a filler track but at this show Jeff played it with a vengence reminiscent of 'Rice Pudding' or 'Plynth'. 'Even Odds' segued into 'You Never Know' and what a change of pace. Randy got into a funky groove and Jeff just started churnin out the groove . Tradeoffs were really what the tradeoffs should have been like more often when Jeff had Tim Bogert to play off of. And let's not forget Jennifer as her solos during this and 'Blue Wind' demonstrates why she belongs in the same breath with Jan, Tony, And Jeff.
And for the record, the HOB setlist:
When I first walked into the dressing room it was maybe two minutes after Dick did, I was still talking to Randy. First thing as I entered the door I noticed this buffet table to my left. Besides the usual fruit and breads and crackers were two bottles of Moet champagne. (I'm pretty sure Mimosas, orange juice and champagne, are the official drink of this tour I always see Jeff drinking one and this time Jennifer was having one as well.) First thing Jeff did as I walked in was to walk up to the two bottles of Moet and in perfect Austin Powers form said "Hello boys!" Hah! When Dick and Jeff were talking about Jennifer I mentioned that you really can't tell the difference between having Tony on keys or Jennifer doing the Midi thing. "And how she does that really fast ascending keyboard riff from 'Savoy' it's just incredible." "Yeah", Jeff said, "And the audience can see her doing it. That's a disadvantage for keyboardists, the audience never sees any of their fingerwork." "Of course unless they were playing one of those remote keyboards strung around their neck like someone you used to play with" I said. "Oh yeah, well I think he wanted to be a guitarist sometimes" he laughed. "Yeah, I know" I said. "I saw Jan once during a solo tour. He was running his synthesizer not through a keyboard amp or the PA but through a Marshall stack." I tell you though, it sounded great. Anyway so as always I ask the important questions. I already knew the answer but I wanted to hear if from the man. "So, that isn't your dog in the CD booklet?" "No, we were doing the shoot on this street and someone had that dog and the photographer said 'Hold this'". The next question I asked was, "Have you ever sold any of the cars you've built." "No", he said "I just build them to give me something to do." I realized then that maybe he thought I asked the question that if he sold the cars for the money but I said, "Oh no, I was just wondering you know, how cool it would be first to be able to own a rod like that and on top of it be able to say 'Oh and by the way Jeff Beck built this car'". Oh no", he said, "I've never sold any of the cars I've totally built, they have too much sentimental value. I have sold cars though that I've bought and maybe done a few things to. You can't keep too many cars garaged up in England...they tend to rust quickly."
Al started herding everyone out of the room and Jeff followed. A rather large gentleman reporter type shoved his recorder in front of Jeff and asked him about his blues influences besides Buddy Guy. "Earl Hooker, Earl HOOker!" Jeff said. ".. and Elmore James, and Pop White . "What about Muddy Waters?" someone asked. "Yeah, Muddy Waters!!" Jeff answered. The next question was a trivial session question about the Sgt. Pepper sessions. Jeff was asked what he played on it. He said he didn't remember and started to look towards me. I took the cue and said "Don't ask him, ask me. I said "Jeff played only a few bars on "You Only Give Me Your Money" Jeff did manage to come back at that point with I remember fainting there...( We'll research that one at another time) Al reminded the gentleman that it was relaxing time not interview time and the interview was over. Jeff started forward and greeted the rest of Levon Helms band that had attended the show. As Jeff was getting past the narrow hallway Jennifer shouted out fittingly," Hey, some space for the Papa! Hah! I bolted down the stairs to say goodbye and thanks to Ralph. Meanwhile I heard that Jeff turned to my wife and said Adios in her native tongue which was a nice gesture. Ralph assured me that the agent Mitch was seriously looking into coming back to Florida and some other US areas in July and wished me and my family a safe journey home. The House of Blues had become truly for one night a House OF Jeff Beck Joy....................................DW Had a great time too...everyone couldn't have been nicer and I've got to get back to New Orleans and stay longer!
The show starts off with "Let Me Love You". Having been on the setlist for over a year, although changed rhythmically since the recording of 'Truth' earlier in the year, Jeff's treatment of it on this reel to reel soundboard recording is given with menacing growls and a lot more action on the lower frets of his Les Paul that on previous efforts. Next, we are treated to an Elmore James classic "I Can't Hold Out" that Jeff had not done onstage since the summer of '67. Filled with generous slide runs and wails, the guitar/vocal tradeoffs......'talk to me baby'.......between Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck are priceless. B.B. King's "Sweetest Little Angel" ends with Jeff ad libbing up and down the neck with barrages that are much the same way he would for that tune at the September '68 BBC session a month later. "Jeff's Boogie" is flawless and featured a full 8 bars of silence (Hah!) and Mickey Waller's 'Jump Jivin' style swing drum accent which has become the trendy thing once more thiry years later.
Introducing the whole band one by one, Jeff calls bassist Ronnie Wood 'a really sweet chap'. Hah! "Shapes Of Things" is up next as Jeff carefully explains to the audience that it wouldn't be the same as the Yardbirds' number. Here Ron and Mickey turn up the heavy bottom and illustrate just why it was so pleasing to have had this recorded on a decent reel to reel. Experienced collectors know what Ronnie's Plush amps did to pre-Walkman desktop style cassette recorders. Although once during the performance Jeff had said to the audience, "It sounds like a library in here.", by now everyone was clapping and gave Jeff a chance to have some fun with them to end the first set. "This ain't no birthday party but this tune kind of goes along with what you're doin'" (clapping). Folks at this juncture were treated to Jeff vocals extrodinnaire! Hah! as "Hi Ho Silver Lining" parties along to a rare if not unique conclusion - Jeff reprising the chorus on his axe at the end of the tune not once but twice, first down low and then up high before the symphonic crash ending. Realize also that other than the Shrine L.A. show in September '68, that this is the only other American show that we know of on tape that even had 'Hi Ho'.
What a sight it must have been during that brief 2 month American tour for audiences to see the beginning of the 2nd set with Rod Stewart onstage furiously strumming a twelve string guitar to the opening of "Beck's Bolero"! Jeff's lines were purposeful and majestic and the ending was abrupt just like the Lp version (yes I know REAL collectors have the US flip to 'Hi Ho' with the inverted Bolero mix ending). "There's an Andy William's (60's middle of the road TV star and crooner) number for you" Rod laughs at the end of "Bolero". Albert King's "Oh Pretty Woman" is reprised again as Jeff hadn't done this one since Aynsley Dunbar left the group in '67. An intro announcement for "Mother's Old Rice Pudding" is the intro to the highlight of the whole show, the live debut of 'Rice Pudding' in it's original funky wah-wah jam form as witnessed on a more polished version on the BBC a month later. Ten minutes of spontaneity and Jeff introducing Mickey Waller as a 5 foot 6 inch powerhouse! Staying with the wah-wah theme, the band gracefully slides into "Morning Dew". The number is done to the T according to the Lp and the dynamics go from soft to loud and back and bring down the house.
"The Sun Is Shining" is as perfect here as it is on the 4 track Bill Graham FM Fillmore Broadcast. Inventive high blues licks from Jeff dot the whole number. Raising the tempo a bit towards the finish of the set, "Rock My Plimsoul" ends with classic Rod/Jeff tradeoffs and even gets a little syncopated in one-upmanship. "I Ain't Superstitious" is the show finale and gets the audience fully involved with clapping and cheering. This tape is a must for any serious Jeff Beck collector. And Jeff, since you recently said in an interview that you wanted to do a heavy remake of "Hi Ho Silver Lining", if you want this live copy to take ideas from - well, you know where to find me...Hah! DW6