When Jeff Beck performed at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2007, it also resulted in his first official appearance on a concert DVD. This appearance was much too brief, however, as only his performances of "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" and "Big Block" made the cut on the Crossroads DVD. This travesty was somewhat rectified recently by way of the deluxe edition of Beck's latest CD, Emotion & Commotion, which includes a bonus DVD of six other song performances from that same Crossroads show. But this only begs the question – why not just release a separate concert DVD of the entire 11-song set he performed?
Fortunately for us, Beck delivered in another way last year with his brilliant Performing This Week…Live At Ronnie Scott's concert DVD. The contrast between an intimate jazz club performance, in front of only a few hundred people, and a major stadium concert in front of 30,000 people could not be made more evident, and this is why having both concerts is essential.
The frustrating thing about seeing Jeff Beck in concert during this last decade is that he rarely plays anything from his Jeff Beck Group years, mainly because he doesn't tour with a singer – which he should, and you are lucky if he even plays a couple of songs combined from his two seminal, mid-'70s, fusion albums, Blow By Blow and Wired. This is the stuff that made him a legend and what got him inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame recently, not his mediocre post-80's stuff. It is like if Led Zeppelin toured again and took 90 percent of their setlist from Presence and In Through The Out Door.
I am certainly thrilled that Jeff Beck is still putting out new material and touring, and I always want to hear the new material a musician has put out, but he could certainly strike a better balance between his later stuff and the classics that his fans really want to hear.
The six songs on this DVD were all also on the Ronnie Scott's DVD, and Beck is backed by the same killer band of Tal Wilkenfeld (Bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (Drums), and Jason Rebello (Keyboards). They lead off with an incredible take on the Billy Cobham Spectrum classic, "Stratus," and it becomes immediately obvious that Beck is no run of the mill guitarist. He is in a class of his own. Beck picks exclusively with his thumb and fingers and is constantly manipulating the whammy bar and volume and tone knobs on his cream colored Fender Stratocaster to create a kaleidoscope of sounds that could damn well be patented by him. No other guitarist sounds remotely like Jeff Beck.
Next up are "Behind the Veil," and "Big Block," from his excellent 1989 album, Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop, with "Nadia," from his 2001 release You Had It Coming, sandwiched in between. The best stuff is saved for last though, as Beck teases you with about a minutes worth of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" before bleeding into his tasty blues jam, "Brush With The Blues." He eventually closes the show in grand fashion with a stunning adaptation of the Beatles' "A Day In the Life." This one has to be seen to be believed.
High marks go to both the PCM stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio tracks as well as the widescreen video presentation. The camera work was also superb. There were no bonus features on the DVD.
Although I have not been all that impressed with Emotion & Commotion CD yet, It could just be one of those albums that takes a while to grow on you, this deluxe edition is a must have for any self respecting Jeff Beck fan. It was available exclusively at Best Buy.
2. Behind the Veil
4. Big Block
5. Brush With The Blues
6. A Day In the Life
Performance – 7/10
Production – 8/10