Jeff Beck has become one of the most striking performer's in the history of the guitar. While he has played the guitar for several decades he continually seeks new ways to ply his art, develop, and renew his music. Indeed, his musical output, and guitar playing, is a delicate fusion of all the influences he has sought, explored, and absorbed. He is a guitar player with a "real" difference, who tends not to sound bland.
Jeff's return to The Royal Albert Hall attracted fans from around the globe. Outside the venue I spoke to some people who had traveled from Sweden, Italy, and New Jersey. An exuberant, tribal gathering came to secure Jeff's place as one of rock's genuine icons. Inside, the hall was packed to capacity; the audience murmured with expectation. I was fortunate to be seated in the eighteenth row with a clear view of the stage.
From the moment the band took to the stage and began the whispered, rhythmic accompaniment to "Beck's Bolero" - Jeff entered "stage right" clad all in white, playing the melody on his cream and white strat - it was clear the sound was warm and mixed to perfection. Not as loud as in Belfast, but the band still performed with incredible confidence, save for some momentary glitches.
While Jeff's confidence is clearly at an all time high - and long may it last - there were moments during the concert when Jeff and fellow band members appeared overly conscious and, to a degree, overawed by the intimacy and atmosphere of the occasion. However, an exchange of smiles, a flurry of nimble fingers, and drum sticks, restored calm, and once more the band scaled new heights of musical triumph.
The hypnotic rhythm to "Pump" made you want to clap your hands, stand up, and rush the stage. Not acceptable behavior at this venue, I'm sorry to say. The combination of Tal Wilkenfeld's bass playing, combined with Vinnie Colaiuta's drumming was intoxicating. Then Jeff entered with his beautiful tone, melodies, and virtuosity which the rest of the group complemented, driving him to play licks that astounded, confounded, and inspired, to take you on a beautiful journey.