Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Jeff Beck at Southampton Guildhall July 3rd 2009

Jeff Beck is 70 today. In my opinion he is the greatest living British electric guitar player. In a career spanning nearly 50 years the man just seems to have gone from strength to strength. The first two Jeff Beck Group albums are rock classics and set the template for Led Zeppelin and the flood of 1970s heavy rock bands that followed. Trailblazing as those albums were the shows he played at Ronnie Scott's in 2008 showed him at the peak of his powers and with a subtlety and imagination that was still only nascent in his playing of the mid / late 60s.

Since the 70s he's pretty much kept to his own version of instrumental jazz rock but for me he is someone who is interesting not just because of his technique or "sound" but because he just seems to have more imagination than everyone else put together. You never really know what to expect from a Jeff Beck solo. His talent is unique and slightly off the wall. I think he is the only rock guitarist to get anywhere near the kind of musical artistic creativity that Jimi Hendrix had.

Here he is at a concert I saw in the cavernous and somewhat decrepit Guildhall in Southampton in July 2009. It was a sweltering hot night but Beck put in a stunning show. Here is part of the encore. It's a breathtaking solo from a man whose powers remain undiminished.

More stranger than known
Led Zeppelin at Southampton University 1973

Page and Plant talking about the new Led Zeppelin reissues

Peter Green - "A Mind To Give Up Living" - The Blues of despair...

Ten Years After - Swing In 1969

The Rolling Stones' finest hour - "Get Yer Leeds Lungs Out"...


  1. Surprised to learn J.B. went from a plectrum to finger-picking his guitar about a decade ago. Also, the birth of Zeppelin may have been more impromptu than sometimes thought: Page had said very early on he was going for something "heavier"; Beck leans so strong to jazz. I think they tended to compliment rather than compete and/or copy. Personally I like boogie, heavily syncopated (60's) R&B, and hard-edged soul (not to mention deep blues) but that being said it IS challenging to think of any more talented guitarist out of Britain - since e.g. Mick Taylor seems to have become a shadow of his 70's persona shortly after leaving the Stones.

    I saw the "founder" of Savoy Brown perform a few years ago and he's still a MIGHTY good guitarist, and when it comes to R&B, blues or boogie he'd give Beck a brief run for his money I'd suspect and wish Beck would have stuck with a singer/songwriter at some point because he has the capacity for FEROCIOUS playing on blues-based numbers even more so perhaps than E.C.; that just means I'm not so huge into jazz and think Beck WOULD be the envy of just about every "popular" electric guitarist if he so chose. I can't name loads of practical examples, but at the 1983 N.Y. ARMS show you can hear him delivering a SEARING solo (though faintly in the background due to idiotic mixing) that outshone - by far - Clapton and Page on "Layla." It's a weird thing almost as if he's "depriving" those of us who KNOW he can play blistering blues and rock but "refrains" from delving into it. Ouch.

  2. Hi thanks for your comments -here and elsewhere. I tend to agree with you. Have you heard Beck's most recent album "Loudhailer"? His most "rock" oriented in years. Worth hearing. Check it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2H_n7n9ngo