Written by General Jabbo
It’s not often a legendary guitarist at the height of his powers plays an intimate show, let alone a week’s worth of them, but that’s exactly what happened when Jeff Beck took a week-long residency at London’s famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in November of 2007, the opening night of which was captured for Performing This Week…Live at Ronnie Scott’s.
Backed by his crack band, including Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Jason Rebello on keyboards, and young virtuoso Tal Wilkenfeld on bass, Beck takes the crowd on a musical journey spanning 40 years and covering all aspects of his career.
The set opens with “Beck’s Bolero,” the song that originally served as the prototype for Led Zeppelin and a song Beck put at the beginning because it was one people know. Beck’s moody, psychedelic slide playing sets up the rocking middle section nicely. The Stevie Wonder classic “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” finds Beck at his most emotive, while Wilkenfeld delivers a bass solo that had Beck bowing in reverence.
“Behind the Veil” and “Blanket,” the latter of which features guest star Imogen Heap on vocals, have Beck diving into reggae territory while “You Never Know” is a Jan Hammer-written party funk tune. Throughout the different styles, Beck still maintains a guitar style that is uniquely his. He doesn’t use a pick and as such, is able to use his entire picking hand to manipulate the strings, tremolo arm, and volume control in an effortless display of fret-board mastery.
Joss Stone guests on vocals for a moving version of “People Get Ready,” on which Beck first had a hit with Rod Stewart, and Eric Clapton jams with Beck on the blues classics “Little Brown Bird” and “You Need Love.” As Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were both in the audience, it’s possible “You Need Love” – the song that inspired “Whole Lotta Love” – was played as a tribute.
The band goes all out on the appropriately titled “Scatterbrain,” but the real highlight is Beck’s moving instrumental rendition of the Beatles masterpiece “A Day in the Life.”
The DVD includes a number of sound options, including Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Surround Sound. Also included are interviews with Jeff Beck about playing at Ronnie Scotts, his band, the set list, and the guest stars of the show. In addition, his band mates are interviewed about playing the shows and playing Jeff’s music in general
For fans of the guitarist, Performing This Week…Live at Ronnie Scott’s is a must-own. It shows that even at this stage of his career, Jeff Beck still pushes the boundaries of what is possible with the electric guitar.