JEFF BECK – Performing This Week… Live At Ronnie Scott’s

JEFF BECK - Performing This Week... Live At Ronnie Scott's
  • 10/10
    JEFF BECK - Performing This Week... Live At Ronnie Scott's - 10/10


Eagle Records
Release date: November 25, 2008

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

How many 64 year old guitarists can bring it like Jeff Beck can still to this day? Not many, that is a certainty. What is it with Surrey, England that produces some of the finest 6-string players to this day? Take Beck, Clapton, Page…all hail from that region. What makes a Jeff Beck performance so appealing? During Beck’s 6-set, 5-night appearance at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho, London, late 2007, the night of November 29 to be exact, there you found Brian May, Tony Iommi, Jon Bon Jovi and Jimmy Page in the audience. Who else would or could for that matter command such a turnout. Do you think these four would be found together at some other venue on the same night? You probably have a better chance of getting hit by lightning!

Is it shocking to anyone that Beck still has the ferocity and tenaciousness that others cannot reproduce? He is a freak of nature by all standards. What makes him so special? Not only does he create sounds that others fail to replicate, he does it with such panache, flair, and showmanship, it’s special to witness if you get the chance. Another interesting fact is that he doesn’t use a guitar pick… only his fingers, the guitar’s tremolo, “whammy,” or vibrato bar, a slide (bottleneck) for his finger and an occasional wah-wah pedal for some electronic effects. Other than that you will have trouble finding anything else.

Beck’s career is nothing short of spectacular. There is too much to tell and not enough space here to do it in. Some independent research and Googling will do the trick if one is interested enough to learn more. For now we have Jeff’s latest masterpiece, a live recording of one of the most talked about performances by anyone in a long time. The only recent event of this caliber would be the December 10, 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion at London’s 02 Arena. Anyone fortunate enough to be at one of the six performances at Ronnie Scott’s came away in shocking awe and amazement.

Supporting Beck on stage were the same musicians that accompanied him at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival in 2007. Brit’s own jazz pianist/keyboardist Jason Rebello, legendary Jazz drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and stunning 23 year old Australian bassist Tal Wilkenfeld. Tal is an up and coming bassist, who because of her playing abilities has Jeff bowing to her on stage (done quite often during Tal’s solo on “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”) occasionally in amazement himself. She looks so young but don’t let that fool you-she is on track to becoming one of the great bass players out there today.

Before going further, it must be noted that the CD and complementing DVD do not match. There are 16 tracks with 78 plus minutes of music on the CD while there are 21 entries on the DVD. Joss Stone and Imogen Heap sing on three other tracks found on the DVD (and not the CD), while Eric Clapton joins Beck on stage for two more during the encore (again not on the CD). That is the only difference between the two. Also on the DVD you will find 90 minutes of bonus material, the first half hour of which is an interview with Mr. Beck. The total runtime comes in at around 191 minutes (a little over 3 hours for those who prefer not to perform the math in their head). From what has been said so far, the Blu-ray version of the DVD is supposed to be well worth the price. However, for those who don’t have the appropriate screen to watch it on, the normal DVD version should suffice.

Beck covers a wide array of material and for someone who was once voted as the 14th “Greatest Guitarist Of All Time” by Rolling Stone magazine, his playing is nothing short of spectacular. From his opening tune “Beck’s Bolero,” Beck quickly proves that he hasn’t lost any of that virtuosity he is known to have. You can feel the strings bend as he prolongs certain notes.

Next is “Eternity’s Breath,” a quick 75 second blast and heavily Blues influenced tune from the John McLaughlin catalog-so electric and heavy, sounding like Cream was on stage instead. The drumming of Vinnie Colaiuta blows you away on this one… what a pounding machine. “Stratus,” a definite highlight, follows with Tal laying down a heavy, solid bass line while Jeff explores his fretboard some more. This is a great bass and drum track. One can’t forget about the keys on this one either. Jason Rebello is perfect in his timing with short spurts at just the right places while the rest of the band is busy doing their thing.

Beck states during an interview (found on the DVD) that some of the tunes have evolved over the years-he used what he felt to be the very best arrangement for each tune performed at this particular venue. There are two stunning performances on the CD and two more on the DVD that cannot be overlooked. First, on the album you will find “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” and “A Day In the Life.” On “…Lovers” you will find Beck and Wilkenfeld exchanging solos that leave you speechless. Tal’s solo is absolutely brilliant and will leave you speechless. With Lennon and McCartney’s “A Day In the Life” you find Beck at his best recreating the sound and feeling the song intended to have when written by one of the best writing duos out there. Second, on the DVD you will find two more Blues numbers written by Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters. These are “You Need Me” and “Little Brown Bird” respectively. Who else but Eric Clapton joins Beck on stage during the encore to provide vocals for both while adding some more 6-string to the mix? This is another surprise (more of a treat) that can’t be overlooked and should have been included on the CD in all honesty.

The heavier Blues influenced tunes on the CD are “Eternity’s Breath” (see above), “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Brush With the Blues” where the second part of that title kind of gives it away, and “Big Block” which is a bit more electric at times but the strong bass line keeps it in its place. The Rock/Jazz Fusion numbers are “Stratus” (see above), “Blast From the East,” “Scatterbrain” which is more of a Battle Royale of lightning quick sound, and “Space Boogie” which really utilizes the keyboard. Some of the mellower material but at the same time has Beck playing them with such incredible feeling are “Nadia,” “Angel (Footsteps)” and “Where Were You.” In “Angel” the keys are absolutely stunning and really make the song. They are so subtle in the background yet have an effect that is so powerful, especially in this song.

For those who are bass fans and will become, or are already, Tal Wilkenfeld fans will love the sound of “You Never Know.” During this track she utilizes a thumb-slapping technique. The sound is very different and distinguishable-as soon as you hear it you know what it is. The last remaining tunes not mentioned yet are “Behind the Veil” and “Led Boots.” Both well known by most Jeff Beck fans around the world.

Issues that came to mind during the entire reviewing process were touched upon already so it is moot at this point to rehash. What made this Live recording turn out the way it did was the fact that it was done in a club setting or atmosphere conducive to an intimacy between the artist and his fans. In all honesty however, it doesn’t even have to be Jeff Beck fans. Any fan of good music would be incredibly thankful for the opportunity to witness firsthand what occurred during those six shows in five evenings. Just thank the music Gods that the event was fully covered in both audio and video for future entertainment of generations to come. This is more than just a must buy-it is something that can be labeled as “you have no idea how lucky you are to be able to listen to or to watch this legendary performance by Jeff Beck.”


  • George Fustos

    George was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He has engineering degrees in Chemical and Electrical Engineering. He favors Metal, Rock, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Blues, and even some Jazz and Motown (depending on the tune). He used to dabble with the bass quite some time ago. His most influential bassists are Jaco, Billy Sheehan, Stu Hamm, Geddy Lee, and John Entwistle (RIP Ox). Band-wise he's really into Rush, Tool, early Metallica, Pink Floyd (including Waters and Gilmour as solo artists), The Who, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Halford, Joe Satriani, certain Judas Priest, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins (Blues guitarist), Motörhead, and a German band called Skew Siskin that Lemmy says in an interview as being "the best band out there today."

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