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Review: Jeff Beck at IndigO2

PUBLISHED: 19:00 24 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:56 05 October 2010

Jeff Beck has always been something of a musical enigma.

Unlike friend and fellow axe legend Jimmy Page, with whom he shared the limelight when both were in the Yardbirds in the 60s, Beck has never really found a musical home.

Whereas Page became a megast

Jeff Beck has always been something of a musical enigma.

Unlike friend and fellow axe legend Jimmy Page, with whom he shared the limelight when both were in the Yardbirds in the 60s, Beck has never really found a musical home.

Whereas Page became a megastar with Led Zeppelin, Beck, with his awkward stage presence and highly strung temperament, was never able to settle down with any group of musicians for long.

All of which meant there was an air of uncertainty about this one-off show. His support band was essentially a rockabilly outfit, playing what promoter Harvey Goldsmith called "songs from his private record collection". Warming up with a dash of Elvis and Apache by The Shadows in tribute to Beck's own guitar hero, Hank Marvin, he moved through the decades, carefully avoiding anything by his musical contemporaries.

It was fine as far as it went but the problem was you got the sense most punters hadn't come to watch Beck play 50s rock and roll songs with a hardworking rockabilly band - they were there to see his guitar pyrotechnics and at times the two seemed somewhat incompatible.

He was on safer ground when he let his guitar do the talking. A majestic six-minute blues jam reminded everyone of the man's prodigious musical talent and Page himself, sat up in the Gods ("He's too chicken to come up here!" joked Beck) would have been proud of a touching instrumental rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Also in the audience was Ronnie Wood, the man who got the Stones gig after the departure of Mick Taylor in 1974. Beck, who looks like the Stone who got away, could be forgiven for looking at Wood, unquestionably an inferior guitarist and wondering what if...

After three encores (and no Silver Lining) Beck called it a night, earning a tumultuous reception and underlining his credentials as one of the world's foremost rock guitarists. More blues next time though please.

CIARAN MCGRATH


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