A Updated

Beck filled many musical holes with his deft singular guitar technique

London: The Royal Albert Hall May 31st 2022.

To watch, listen, and wonder how Jeff Beck plays guitar with an indefatigable balletic grace, poise and nuclear danger is to ask why birds fly, fish swim, tigers burn bright in the night, elephants never forget, cells divide and multiply, and air is breathed: it happens naturally from years of well-practised evolution that, in Beck’s case, is as masterfully crafted yet as mysterious as the Mona Lisa’s smile. What lies beneath Beck’s relaxed and confident stage presence can be traced back to his pre-Yardbirds fame as an assiduous youthful bedroom guitar practitioner and a subsequent long and ongoing career as a unique headline artist.

To begin tonight’s programme, he ambled onto the stage and with a casual wave to the audience and with an adjustment of his designer shades, the band fired up the familiar intro to ‘Star Cycle’ from his seminal ‘There And Back’ album. His superb band of three female musicians; Rhonda Smith (bass), Annika Nilles (drums), Vanessa Freebairn-Smith (cello) plus Robert Adam Stevenson (keys), impressively gelled and backed up Beck’s faultless set that included live staples such as Jazz fusion classics of Mahavishnu Orchestra’s ‘You Know You Know’, Billy Cobham’s ‘Stratus’, a reverberating ‘Rumble’ by Link Wray, plus his own mighty ‘Big Block’ from his Grammy award winning ‘Guitar Shop’ album, that shook the mushroom shaped sound dampeners dangling from the domed roof of this historical hall.

Having announced a forthcoming July release of a joint album, what ensued was an unusual and distracting cameo set by Johnny Depp, on the eve of his US court victory, as he joined Beck to mumble through new song ‘Hedy Lamarr’ and an odd mix of covers including Lennon’s ‘Isolation’, Dennis Wilson’s ‘Time’, Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’, Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing’ and, bizarrely, Killing Joke’s ‘The Death And Resurrection Show’ to excitable screams from female fans that distracted from the main reason most were attending, which was to witness a maestro at play. Nonetheless, normal service resumed as this noted guitarist’s guitarist delivered a beautiful take on ‘Cause We Ended As Lovers’ and Benjamin Britten’s ‘Corpus Christi Carol’. Throughout tonight’s performance, including an encore of ‘Brush With The Blues’ followed by the return of Depp on ‘A Day In A Life’, Beck filled many musical holes with his deft singular guitar technique. In fact, there were no musical holes to be found on Beck’s part prior to and during this famous song checked hall tonight.

Paul Davies

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