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

JEFF BECK Performing This Week...Live At Ronnie Scott's

Eagle Rock Records [Release date 01.06.15] 2-CD Special Edition

In 2007 legendary guitarist Jeff Beck played a series of gigs at Ronnie Scotts in London. For those who admire Beck’s jazz-fusion of the seventies and eighties, they’ll be in their element here.

Originally released in 2008 as a single CD, this package is now expanded with some of the material that appeared on the accompanying DVD/Bluray and also featuring Beck’s rockabilly set with the Big Town Playboys.

Amongst the guest artistes doing a turn (and only available originally on the DVD version) are Joss Stone, Imogen Heap (including the excellent ‘Blanket’) and Eric Clapton who appears on ‘Little Brown Bird’ and ‘You Need Love’.

Starting off with a rousing ‘Beck’s Bolero’ which sounds strangely contemporary Beck is admirably assisted by Jason Rebello (keyboards) and a fine rhythm section of Tal Wikenfeld (bass) and Vinnie Colaiuta (ex-Zappa) on drums.

Beck references Mahavishnu’s ‘Eternity’s Breath’ before an excellent version of Billy Cobham’s Stratus (the original featured Tommy Bolin).

Beautifully recorded, there’s excerpts from all the key albums: ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”, “Scatterbrain” (from Blow By Blow), ‘Led Boots’, ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ (Wired) and ‘You Never Know’ and ‘Space Boogie’ from ‘There And Back’.

Special mention must be made of ‘You Never Know’, funky as hell with Rebello countering Beck’s frenetic riffing. It’s all over much too soon. But for a moment it harks back to the glorious age of guitar/keyboard interplay. Beck’s 1985 album wasn’t called ‘Flash’ for nothing.

The more recent ‘Blast From The East’ gives Satch a run for his money, if ever that was needed, but it does show that Beck remains very relevant.

When I saw Beck play live in the summer of 2014 something didn’t quite gel.  Maybe it was the set-list, the different band, or the venue (the opulent Birmingham Symphony Hall).  Here, in intimate surroundings, Beck’s performace is mesmerising and it provides a counter-balance to any doubters who think he has never bettered ‘Blow By Blow’.  ****1/2

Review by David Randall (adapted from his 2008 GRTR! review)

Archive review (DVD/Bluray, 2009)

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