Jeff Beck: Classic Guitar As It Was Ment To Be

Jeff Beck
Manchester Apollo Theatre
June 18, 2004
It's quite possible that I am surrounded by the most musicians under one roof here at the Manchester Apollo theatre. The guy in front of me is in two bands and works in a record shop, the person next to me plays guitar and the people behind me are chatting about being in a band.

What they're all here for is Jeff Beck, the evergreen guitarist with his highly evolved techniques and tricks.

Beck has a certain respect amongst musicians because of his rock pedigree and the chances that he'll probably be found on too many branches of any given rock family tree. He started out about the same time as Jimmy Page and their paths have crossed numerous times. Beck has taken a very individual route though, and a difficult one, and that is as solo guitarist. He's preferred to explore various Jazz, Rock and Blues styles on his own terms without having to deal with the ego of a lead singer. He prefers not to sing himself but is backed by a band and long time collaborator keyboardist, Jan Hammer, who will now always be remembered as the guy who came up with the Miami Vice Theme tune.

Tonight's show is essentially a Beck/Hammer show with slick backing band. Hammer is perched over his keyboard, plump and middle aged while Beck takes in the spotlight, still managing to retain a youthful likeness to Nigel Tufnall from Spinal Tap.

They meander through the genres from the jazz classic Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, to jazz fusion Led Boots, the acoustic Voyage Home, a cover of soul standard People Get Ready and the Beatle's A Day in the Life.

Beck eeks out an incredibly subtle sound from his guitar, in fact he seems to know how to get any sound he needs and can move effortlessly to hit any dynamics he wants.

The techniques are something that all the guitarists in the audience will probably want to rush home and try. Unfortunately the technique while being superb somehow makes the show feel like a music seminar. The studied concentration of the audience, the ultra clean licks and the polished solos do make you long to crank up the distortion, rope in Crazy Horse and triple the speaker stack to blast out some raw passion. Horses for courses I guess.

Writer: Pete Doherty

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