Performing This Week… Live At Ronnie Scott’s (DVD)
Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2009
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/26/2009
There may be a few people on this earth who can play the guitar as well as Jeff Beck can, but there are none better. He can make the instrument sing, weep and soar. Beck allows the guitar to be his voice.
Beck will turn sixty-five this year. He has had a storied career, and next month he will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for the second time; the first occurred in 1992 as a member of the legendary Yardbirds, and now he will enter as a solo artist. Rolling Stone ranked him at number fourteen on their list of The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time, and in my opinion that was too low.
2007 found him returning to the intimate setting of Ronnie Scott’s for a series of performances that formed the basis of this 21-track DVD, Performing This Week…Live At Ronnie Scott’s. My only regret with this disc is that the Blu-ray edition contains an additional seven-song rockabilly set, which I will need to track down.
Supporting him here are keyboardist Jason Rebello, legendary jazz drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and the stunning twenty-three year old Australian bassist Tal Wilkenfeld. Colaiuta is one of the few musicians who talent-wise can meet Beck as an equal. His jazz-influenced drumming and ability to follow Beck’s leads is extraordinary. Wilkenfeld (who looks sixteen) is on the fast track to becoming one of music’s great bass players.
“Beck’s Bolero” quickly establishes the fact that Beck has lost none of his virtuosity. He remains not only a technical master, but his passion is transmitted to the audience. “Eternity’s Breath” and “Stratus,” written by John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham, respectively, are the kind of jazz/rock fusion songs at which he excels.
There are two especially amazing performances that should be required watching and listening for anyone who appreciates the guitar as an instrument. His take on the Lennon/McCartney tune “A Day In The Life” is mesmerizing; each note is presented with a stunning clarity in this innovative interpretation. Stevie Wonder’s “’Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” features Beck and Wilkenfeld trading solos that have the same structure and melody but are played separately and masterfully on their respective instruments.
Eric Clapton appears for two old blues numbers. While he provides the vocals on Muddy Waters’ “Little Brown Bird” and Willie Dixon’s “You Need Me,” it is the trading of solos and the intertwining of their guitars that is most superb. Clapton is often a little too laidback for my taste, but he cuts loose a little here.
Performing This Week…Live At Ronnie Scott’s presents Jeff Beck at his best. Someone once said, “God plays the guitar using Jeff Beck’s hands.” Amen, brother!