Jeff Beck Manchester Bridgewater Hall 19th May 2014
Went to see Jeff Beck in Manchester last night in the beautiful Bridgewater Hall. After an uneventful drive down the A1 and across a surprising unjammed M62, I arrived just in time to catch support act Mike Sanchez who opened the show with a fine set of boogie woogie piano which made him some new friends.
Jeff Beck came on stage at 8.30pm dressed in a black jacket, waistcoat and trousers, and a white t-shirt, emerging from the wings playing a bright white Telecaster. The Telecaster was soon swapped for a white strat which remained his instrument for the remainder of the evening. For this tour Jeff Beck’s band are: Rhonda Smith bass; Jonathan Joseph drums and Nicolas Meier guitar. They are individually and collectively excellent, provided an accompaniment which blended jazz and classic rock. This time around Beck’s set drew from across his back catalogue, with over-all a heavier rock feel than on previous occasions I have seen him. I am becoming more and more of the opinion that Beck is the greatest living guitarist; he truly understands his instrument and can switch in an instant from the heaviest and raunchiest of rock riffs to the sweetest, most gentle tunes. The set had similar changes of style, from thundering rock reminding of his 70s days with Beck, Bogert and Appice, to Hawaian style, and to his treatment of ballads, such as Danny Boy, where he makes incredible use of tone and moving the volume control up and down. You can hear the influences, Hendrix of course, Santo and Johnny, Les Paul, John McLaughlin; all there somewhere in Beck’s playing, and yet he is also very much his own man with his own way of playing. The set was almost totally instrumental with bass player Rhonda Smith taking vocals on a couple of songs. But he held the attention of the crowd throughout. He hardly said a word all night, he comes over as a quiet guy who concentrates on his music, and is aware of his own stature and place in the history of rock. The guy is simply amazing and a genius. The crowd gave him a standing ovation at the end of the show.
The setlist consisted of some of (although not in this order, and I can’t pretend to know all of Beck’s material so have probably got some of this wrong): Loaded; Nine; Little Wing; You Know You Know; Hammerhead; Angel (Footsteps); Stratus; Yemin; Where Were You; Egyptian; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; Brush with the Blues; You Never Know; Danny Boy; Why Give It Away ; Rollin’ and Tumblin’ ; Choral; Big Block; Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers; Declan ; A Day in the Life.
Jeff Beck finished at 10.10pm. I was home around 12.45am. I decided to come up the A19, as the signs above me on the motorway threatened a diversion on the A1, but that didn’t really help as the A19 was closed up at Peterlee, and I had to make a detour through Shotton Colliery; the joys of driving late at night.
While driving back I was creating my dream Jeff Beck setlist. Imagine if he put together a set that included (with a guest singer or two): Shape of Things, Morning Dew, Beck’s Boogie, Beck’s Bolero, Greensleeves. Love is Blue, Hi Ho Silver Lining, Keep Me Hanging On, A Day in the Life, Moon River, Jerusalem or Danny Boy, Little Wing, Over Under Sideways Down, You Shook Me. Not that would be something. Ain’t ever going to happen I guess, Jeff Beck is very much his own man, and plays what he feels is right. And that’s, I guess, how it should be.
Archive for the ‘Jeff Beck’ Category
Jeff Beck Manchester Bridgewater Hall 19th May 2014
The Rolling Stones O2 Arena London 25 November 2012
I am sitting on the 06.15 train out of London, returning home after an amazing concert.
Well they pulled it off. Last night the Rolling Stones gave me and 20,000 other fans a night that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I should never have doubted how incredible they would be.
I travelled down to London on Sunday afternoon, arriving in time to meet my son David for a chat and a pizza. I travelled across London and arrived at the O2 around 7pm, to make sure I was there on time, as we had all been told that The Stones would be on stage at 8pm sharp. I bought a programme, and took my cheap (£250 ouch!) seat in the upper tier. A lot has been said and written about the expensive prices of ticket for these 50th anniversary gigs, with most floor and lower tier seats costing £400 and upwards, and I wondered if there would be a lot of empty seats, but on the night the O2 arena was packed. The stage was modelled on the Stones’ trademark lips and tongue, with a standing area in the centre of the tongue where lucky fans could get close up to our heroes. Actually, I had a pretty good view up there; I was seated in the fourth row of the balcony, directly opposite the stage and could see everything that was happening.
The proceedings started slightly later than advertised, at approx. 8.20pm with a video of stars giving their views on The Stones in their 50th year, including Elton John, Iggy Pop, Johnny Depp, Pete Townshend, The Black Keys and Angus Young. Iggy told us “hearing Keith Richards’ guitar is like being hit in the face by a wet mackerel”! Next a troop of 100 or so drummers in Grrr Gorilla suits paraded around the floor area, filling the arena with sound and rhythm. Then the lights went down and Jagger and co took to the stage. First song was “I Wanna Be Your Man”, with Mick wearing a black and white jacket and matching trilby. We were back in the 60s, and the sound and playing was superb. From where I sat I could hear every word clearly, and it was crisp and quite loud. A screen at either side of the stage and at the back, in the heart of the mouth, showed images of the band in their youth. Next was “Get Off My Cloud”, followed by “All Over Now”. Mick was in a playful mood asking “How is it up in the cheap seats?” and adding “Oh they aren’t really cheap are they?”, and joking about how the band missed out on the Queen’s jubilee and the Olympics ceremonies, but just made it “under the wire” for these gigs. He took off his jacket, all dressed in black for an amazing version of “Paint It Black” and the whole arena sang along; Ronnie and Keith sharing guitar parts, with Ronnie on an electric sitar. Ronnie Wood really shone in those first few numbers, taking on most of the lead parts. However, Keith came more to the fore as the show went on. “Gimme Shelter” saw the band welcome their first guest of the night, who was Mary J Blige, taking the vocals alongside Mick Jagger: “It’s Just a Shot Away”; great. The tone and the pace were then lowered a little for a beautiful version of “Wild Horses”. “All Down the Line” was accompanied by a video of the Stones’ influences and heroes: John Lee Hooker, James Brown, Howling Wolf, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, and a host of others appeared on the screen. The next guest to appear was “one of our contempories” Jeff Beck who led the band through “Going Down”, playing some amazing guitar; very flashy, loud, and for a few minutes outshining the band who were clearly loving it. The next song was “Out of Control” from Bridges to Babylon, which was less familiar to me. Mick then introduced the two new songs “One More Shot” and “Doom and Gloom”. I must say that these two new tracks are not my favourite Stones’ songs, but they sounded pretty good last night.
Original bass guitarist Bill Wyman joined the guys for the next two songs: spot on versions of “It’s Only Rock n Roll” and “Honky Tonk Women”. The band, and the crowd seemed genuinely pleased to see Bill, who looked well, and had a smile right across his face, obviously enjoying being back with his old mates. Jagger introduced the band members before the next song, including Bobby Keyes on brass, who has been with the band since I first saw them in 1971.
Keith took front of stage for the next couple of numbers: “Before They Make Me Run” and “Happy”, singing and playing well, and giving Mick a well-deserved breather. Jagger returned with Mick Taylor for an unbelievable version of “Midnight Rambler” which took me back to shows in the 70s, and seemed just as dark and moody as it did in those days. Many say that Taylor was the best guitarist The Stones ever had, and last night his bluesy playing was exactly what was needed. We were on the home stretch now, and next up were “Start Me Up”, “Tumbling Dice”, and “Brown Sugar”, all crowd pleasers, keeping up the pace. The last song was a classic version of “Sympathy for the Devil”, Mick looking the part in a long black furry cloak. Jagger, Wood, and Richards were running around the edge of the tongue, playing to the crowd. Mick in particular has so much and energy and seems so fit, he really was performing just as he did in the 70s. The band left the stage to a tremendous reception; they had delivered 100%, the last two hours had just flown over, and everyone in the arena cheered for more. They were quickly back, accompanied by a choir for a sweet version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, followed by closer “Jumping Jack Flash”, with the voices of the crowd almost drowning the band. They left the stage for the last time at 11pm, the crowd clapping and shouting for more; then the tongue logo appeared with the words “Thanks for coming; have a safe journey home” and we knew that it was finally over. Apparently the set list had also included “Satisfaction” as the last song, but the strict curfew prevented them from playing it. So that was it. You have to give it to them; they showed all their critics that they could still deliver, and at a level that I haven’t seen for a long, long time. This was one of the best times I have seen The Rolling Stones; much, much better than the last time I saw them at the O2 in 2007. I can honestly say that I can’t think of any band to match last night in terms of performance, energy and the rich back catalogue that they have to draw from. And yes Mick’s voice held out, Keith can still play (and well too), Ronnie was great, and I mustn’t forget to mention Charlie, who sits quietly at the back, keeping the beat. And you could tell that they were all enjoying it. The self-styled Greatest Rock n Roll Band in the World retains its crown for a while yet.
I caught a packed tube back to my Travelodge, which I reached at around midnight, and was up at 05.15 to catch this train. Wish I was going again on Thursday. Those of you who are, enjoy it. You won’t be disappointed.
Jeff Beck in Newcastle 1974, 1981 and 2004
Writing my post about the Grangemouth Festival, where Jeff Beck headlined, made me think about the other times that I’ve seen Beck. The most recent was at the O2 a couple of years ago, when he co-headlined and dueted with Clapton. It was a great gig, with an astounding performance from Beck. I’ve seen him three other times, making five in total. After Grangemouth I was keen to see Beck again, so when Beck, Bogert and Appice came to Newcastle City Hall in January 1974 I made sure that I was there. The set was similar to that he played at Grangemouth the year before. This was classic rock, but there were hints of the more experimental guitar technique that Beck was to move into in the future. The setlist for their Live in Japan 1973 DVD is: Superstition; Lose Myself With You; Jeff’s Boogie; Going Down; Boogie; Morning Dew; Sweet Sweet Surrender; Livin’ Alone; I’m So Proud; Lady; Black Cat Moan; Why Should I Care; Plynth/Shotgun. I would guess that the set that night will have been similar. By 1981 Beck was more into jazz-rock, and his 1981 show at the City Hall reflected this. As I recall, Ian and I went to this gig, and the set was all instrumental. Beck no doubt gave us some great guitar playing, but I found it a bit too much, and I was bored by the end. He’d released the Wired and There and Back albums in 1975 and 1980, and the set mainly comprised tracks from those lps, with no old songs, and definitely no Hi Ho Silver Lining. Looking at published setlists, around that time the set was something like: Star Cycle; El Becko; Too Much to Lose; The Pump; Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers; Space Boogie; Led Boots; Freeway Jam; Diamond Dust; Scatterbrain/Drum Solo; Blue Wind; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/You Never Know; Going Down. It was over 20 years until I saw Jeff Beck again. By 2004, when Will and I last saw him in Newcastle, he was still playing mostly instrumental, with a singer for a few of the songs. By now he’d moved into a more experimental mode, using techniques which blend rock, jazz and sounds from the 50s and 60s; shades of The Shadows, surf guitar, Duane Eddy, Dick Dale and Santo and Johnny. He was awesome that night, and I realised again just what a craftsman he is. My programme for the 2004 gig is to the left. His instrumental version of The Beatles Day In The Life is a revelation. His set from The Albert Hall concert a few days later was: Resolution; Star Cycle; Freeway Jam; Roy’s Toy; Big Block; Cry Me a River; Stratus; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; Angel; Even Odds; Brush with the Blues; Nadia; Nothing but Love; Loose Cannon; Blancet; Rollin’ and Tumblin’; Blue Wind; Voyage Home; Rice Pudding; Cissy Strut; Led Boots; A Day in the Life; Where Were You; You Never Know; Encore: People Get Ready. Still no Hi Ho Silver Lining. I’d resigned myself to never seeing him play the 60s classic. However, that was to come as a surprise at the gig with Clapton (see my earlier blog).
The Grangemouth Pop Festival
Line up: Beck Bogert Appice; Status Quo; Steeleye Span; Lindisfarne; The Everley Brothers; Beggars Opera; Average White Band; Sunshine; Billy Connolly; The Chris McClure Section; MC: John Peel. All for £1.50!
I’m going to see Billy Connolly at Newcastle City Hall on Thursday night. I’m looking forward to the gig, and it made me think about the couple of times I’ve seen Billy Connolly in the past. The first time I saw him was at The Grangemouth Pop Festival in Scotland in 1972 (see ticket right). At the time he was unknown outside Scotland and, as he delighted in telling us, he was scared shitless about this gig, as it was his biggest to date. The festival was organised by Great Western Festivals, who had also run the excellent Lincoln Festival which I attended earlier in 1972, and was billed as Scotland’s first pop festival. My friend Nicky and I went by train to the gig. Grangemouth is north west of Edinburgh. The festival took place on Saturday 23 September 1972 and was part of the Grangemouth centenary celebrations. It was held in a sports stadium, which was in an industrial area, next to a gasworks, which spewed smoke over us at various times during the day. It wasn’t that well attended as I recall, with quite a heavy atmosphere, drunkenness, and some fights as the day went on. The promised line up was good, however a few of the bands who were billed did not play; a not uncommon occurrence in those days. Billy Connolly (see left from the programme of the festival) delivered a set pretty early during the day which was a mix of comedy and folk songs, and was one of the hits of the day for me. He’d just had a success at the Edinburgh festival and was just starting to make a name for himself.Other highlights of the day were Beggars Opera who were also local heroes with great swirling Hammond organ, The Everley Brothers who sang all those timeless hits, and Steeleye Span, who were still playing quite traditionally-based elecric folk at that time, before the days of All Around My Hat. Status Quo were at the top of their game in the early 70s, and were great favourites of Peel, who was DJ/MC for the day. Marsh Hunt was to seen wandering around the crowd. The extract to the right, which is taken from the newspaper programme (also see below) shows the line up and timings. Chris Mclure, who was another local hero, also played. Unfortunately, neither Uriah Heep or The Electric Light Orchestra played. Beck, Bogert and Appice were the main reason we went along, and Beck was a revelation. His guitar playing eclipses Clapton in my view, and I was in awe of him that night. I remember him playing Superstition and am pretty sure that he used a mouth-tube, which was the first time I’d seen suc a strange contraption, and was a few years before Peter Frampton used one on Show Me The Way. I can’t remember much of the set, but I’m pretty sure it contained Morning Dew, a new song called Black Cat Moan, Going Down, and an epic version of Keep Me Hanging On, which Bogert and Appice will have brought with them from Vanilla Fudge. After the gig we got the train back to Edinburgh, where we spent the night trying, and failing, to sleep on some pretty hard and uncomfortable benches, until it was time for the first train back to Newcastle on the Sunday morning.
Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck The O2 Arena London Sat Feb 13th 2010
I couldn’t resist going to see this double bill. Not sure I would make the trip to London to see either separately in concert (although they are both great); but seeing them together was just too tempting.
I’ve seen Clapton many times over the years. He never fails to impress, but there have been times when I’ve felt he was just going through the motions. However, the last few times I’ve seen him (at Newcastle and Sheffield Arenas and at the Cream reunion in the Albert Hall) he seemed to me to be enjoying being up there again. His blues were back and he was playing guitar in a way that I hadn’t seen for many years.
Beck to me is something else. I first saw him at the Grangemouth festival in the early 70s when he was leading Beck, Bogart and Appice and I’ve seen him in Newcastle a few times since. He never disappoints; and (to me) he stands alone. He manages to produce sounds from his Strat that no other guitarist can; his use of tone and dynamics are outstanding.
So Clapton and Beck together in London at the O2 on a Saturday night. Should be great!
I take the train to London on Saturday afternoon and check into my hotel opposite Kings Cross Station. Have taken my laptop so I do some work, type some emails and then it’s off to the show. I get the tube to Greenwich and arrive at the O2 at around 7.30pm.
I buy a programme and take my cheap (£75 ouch!) seat in the upper tier (couldn’t justify paying £125 to be downstairs). The view is OK actually. Just after 8pm Jeff Beck and his band take the stage. He is accompanied by a full string section sitting to the left of the stage.
I can’t say that I am familiar with much of Beck’s material. It’s mainly instrumental and very jazzy, but mixes styles throughout. One minute we get rock, Hendrix, and then he becomes Hank Marvin, Les Paul and Santo and Johnny. Except its unfair to compare his music with any of those; Beck has his own style and sound. I much prefer the slower ballads. His instrumental version of The Beatles Day in the Life has to be heard to be believed. Joss Stone comes on and sings for a couple of songs and we also have an appearance by one of the Corrs who plays violin. The sound is surprisingly clear given the size of the arena. The mix of Jeff’s guitar, his band (who are great; particularly the lady on bass) and the strings fills the hall with great music. They leave the stage just after 9am and there is a short interval.
At around 9.20 Clapton and his band take the stage. The first few songs see Clapton seated with an acoustic guitar, singing the blues, accompanied by piano. After a few songs the rest of his band join, and we get I Shot the Sheriff, Cocaine, Wonderful Tonight and Crossroads. All played great, no surprises, with some pretty good solos from Eric. At around 10.20pm Eric and his band leave the stage for a few minutes.
They soon return, accompanied by Jeff Beck; and the two legends launch into some great blues and pretty tasty guitar work. They play a selection of old blues standards including Shake Your Money Maker, I Need Love, trading licks off each other. For me, Beck’s playing is much more interesting, and he steals the show. My highlight of the night is a great version of the old standard Moon River. It starts with some restrained and careful lead from Beck, and as the song develops Clapton takes the vocals. Eric always did have a soft spot for singing standards. It reminds me of when I saw him at Hammersmith Odeon in the mid 70s and he started the show with Charlie Chaplin’s Smile. I was surprised that a rock star would sing a ballad like that but it was also a high point of that show. They finish with Sly Stone’s Take You Higher and leave the stage around 11pm. Quite a few people leave to catch trains at this point. I make my way downstairs to catch a better view of any encore.
And what a surprise we get for the encore. I’ve never seen Beck play Hi Ho Silver Lining and never dreamed I would. The thought of him playing it tonight hadn’t even crossed my mind; I assumed it was almost a no-go area for him. But as I enter the lower tier I hear the familiar start to that tune. Clapton takes most of the vocal duties, with Beck taking a verse later on. 20,000 people sing along at the top of our voices. People are up and dancing all over the arena. Beck plays the solo as on the record; it sounds awesome. A perfect end; couldn’t be better.
So a great night, worth the trip for Day in the Life, Crossroads, Moon River and Hi Ho Silver Lining. I climb on a packed tube back to my little hotel room in Kings Cross.
Can’t wait for Clapton and Winwood at Wembley.
Jeff Beck set included: People Get Ready; A Day in the Life; I Put a Spell on You (with Joss Stone)
Eric Clapton set included: Driftin’ Blues; Layla (unplugged); Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out; Tell the Truth; Key To the Highway; Wonderful Tonight; I Shot the Sherriff; Cocaine; Crossroads
Jeff Beck & Eric Clapton together set included: Shake your money maker; Moon River; Outside Woman Blues; Little Brown Bird; You Need Love; I Want to Take You Higher
Encore: Hi Ho Silver Lining