Written by Jim Bille
Apr 24, 2010 at 08:00 PM
ImageThe Verizon Wireless Theater hosted one of the most iconic and influential guitarists in the world Saturday night. Jeff Beck performed highlights of his musical trek that covered at least at 3 of his 4 decades as a musician. There were songs featured from Beck’s catalog for every fan from 16 to 60. From his early work to brand new material Beck laid it all out for the sold out crowds consumption.

Jeff Beck has really never held onto one particular musical style for too long. Early on, way back in the 60’s, Jeff Beck replaced a young Eric Clapton as guitarist for the future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, The Yardbirds. After a short while he departed and formed the Jeff Beck Group. This band featured a relatively unknown vocalist named Rod Stewart and then bass player Ron Wood. The band recorded two ground breaking albums before dissolving.  Shortly thereafter, Beck re-invented the band featuring Max Middleton, Cozy Powell, Clive Chaman and Bob Tench. The band’s first of only two albums, ‘Rough and Ready’ was reminiscent of a full speed locomotive that only slowed down on every other song or so. This album is a must have Jeff Beck piece of rock music history. In a way, it was unfortunate that Beck’s show Saturday night didn’t feature any of the really early efforts just mentioned, but there just isn’t enough time to cover it all in one night.

Touring in support of his first CD release in over 7 years, ‘Emotion and Commotion’, the recent R&R Hall of Fame inductee opened the show with a couple of jazz fusion classics.  The first number, ‘Eternity’s Breath’, a semi obscure song by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, was transformed into his own and performed with that unmistakable Jeff Beck sound. Billy Cobham’s 1973 fusion classic ‘Stratus’ was brilliantly featured as a second helping of fair game as Beck bagged this standard as well.

Beck hit the crowd between the eyes with ‘Led Boots’ from the 1975 album ‘Wired’. Beck’s drummer on this tour, Grammy-winning producer/songwriter Narada Michael Walden was featured on this album so he was drumming on familiar ground. The balance of JB’s new hot rod touring band is rounded out by Rhonda Smith on bass and Jason Rebello on keyboards.

As mentioned, Beck’s newest release ‘Emotion and Commotion’ was featured throughout the evening. Corpus Christi Carol, a Jeff Buckley penned number was the first new song of the night. Beck’s guitar work on this was nothing short of spiritual.

The next new song,’ Hammerhead’ is sure to get you a speeding ticket if listened to while driving. Its rhythmic sound is classic no nonsense Jeff Beck and may cause spontaneous acceleration when behind the wheel. The song should come with a warning, “caution, for open road listening only”.

Rhonda Smith was set loose at one point with an incredible bass solo that started out innocent enough but quickly escalated into an all out bass guitar assault. JB sweetened her effort with his distorted Stratocaster touch as the two ended up in a guitar swap meet.

Down shifting into the next song, Beck performed his ever popular version of ‘People Get Ready’. Rebello’s keyboard accompaniment on this number was impeccable, and was naturally accompanied by Rod Stewart’s vocals in my head.

From the album, ‘You had it Comin’; Beck picked two of the best to perform. His version of the blues classic ‘Rollin and Tumblin’ was featured as a frantic shuffle that was able to hold true to its authentic origins. ‘Dirty Mind’, won Beck the ‘Best Rock Instrumental Performance’ Grammy in 2001, its snaky and seductive sound was augmented by Rhonda Smith’s oozy heavy breathing throughout the number.

Other songs from Becks new release featured this night included ‘Never Alone’, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and ‘Nessum Dorma’.

Sly Stone’s ‘Higher’ was the surprise number of the evening. Beck’s rave-up of this classic was incredible as was his Grammy award winning version of the Beatles ‘A Day in the Life”.

ImageLong time Boston area rocker Gary Hoey opened up for Jeff Beck on Saturday. With more than 16 albums to his credit, it’s unfortunate that Hoey might be one of those best guitar players you never have heard of. I must admit I wasn’t familiar with Hoey until this show but I have done some homework since then. This guy is quite the journeyman, Along with his string of albums; Hoey has had a number of Billboard top 20 hits. One of his songs ‘Hocus Pocus’ helped launch his career back in 1993.

Usually a full tilt Fender player with his band, Hoey and bass player Erik Kondz are opening for Jeff Beck’s North American tour unplugged and on acoustics. Even unplugged, Hoey’s stage presence and performance is fantastic. It’s too bad his set was so short.

Hoey is a must see if he makes it back to Houston, especially if he plugs in. For now you can check him out on YouTube, the site is loaded up with some unbelievable material. Or visit his website www.garyhoey.com.
It’s all great stuff.