Blu-ray Review: Jeff Beck - Live At The Hollywood Bowl

The legendary guitarist looks back at over 50 years of music.
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Among guitar heroes, Jeff Beck has had a career like few others. The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee pioneered hard rock and psychedelia with the Yardbirds and later his own Jeff Beck Group. Not wanting to rest on his laurels, he has also been at the forefront of jazz-fusion and instrumental music and has dabbled in electronica. More than 50 years into his career, he has outlasted most of his contemporaries and has few, if any peers.

To celebrate his remarkable career, Beck played a 2016 gig at the Hollywood Bowl with numerous guests, including: Steven Tyler, Billy Gibbons, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Hall, Jan Hammer and Beth Hart. The fantastic performance was filmed and makes up the new Blu-ray/CD set Jeff Beck -- Live At The Hollywood Bowl.

Not one to just look at his past, Beck opens the show with "The Revolution Will Be Televised" from his most recent release Loud Hailer. The song showcases a grinding rhythm with biting lead guitar from Beck. Vocalist Rosie Bones offers an aggressive, spoken word, politically charged vocal over Beck's impassioned playing. The song has its roots in the blues, but like with anything Beck does, it is blues from way out in left field.

A trip of Yardbirds classics follow featuring Wet Willie vocalist Jimmy Hall, doing his best to fill in for the late Keith Relf. A spirited "Over Under Sideways Down" starts the proceedings with its exotic riffing. Using the original as a starting point, Beck goes off during the solo, pushing his guitar to its limits with lighting fast leads. A spot-on "Heart Full Of Soul" follows with Beck staying close to the original arrangement this time. Beck even includes an Eric Clapton-era number, albeit the one that led to his departure, the classic pop of "For Your Love" Great stuff with the band in fine form and visibly enjoying themselves.

A fiery "Beck's Bolero" begins the Jeff Beck Group portion of the set, with the famous instrumental losing none of its trippy potency over time. Jan Hammer joins the band for a number of songs from Beck's fusion period, including a fantastic "Freeway Jam" and a gut wrenching "'Cause We've Ended As Lovers." It's a testament to Beck's brilliance that such vastly different music could all come from the same person.

Beth Hart gives a soulful vocal on the bluesy "I'd Rather Go Blind" before giving way to Buddy Guy for a killer "Let Me Love You." Guy still has his chops and he and Beck clearly enjoy pushing each other musically on stage. Two more Loud Hailer tracks follow before Billy Gibbons joins Beck for a spot-on rendition of ZZ Top's "Rough Boy" that finds Gibbons and Beck trading leads.

Major Yardbirds fan Steven Tyler takes vocals on a raucous "Train Kept-A-Rollin'," which was famously covered by Aerosmith of course and a heavy "Shapes Of Things" done Jeff Beck group style and not the original Yardbirds arrangement. While Rod Stewart was noticeably abset ont he latter, Tyler fills in ably.

Beck's cover of "A Day In The Life" has proven to be a showstopper in recent years and this version is no different. The guitarist has a knack for taking something so familiar and making it his own while still keeping to the song's original spirit. The show closes with a heartfelt "Purple Rain," done in tribute to Prince, who had recently passed. Hart takes vocals and the song is a fitting way to end the performance.

The concert is filmed in 1080i High Definition 16:9 and looks great. Audio options include DTS-HD Master Audio and LPCM Stereo. The complete concert features on both the Blu-ray and the two CDs.

Not many artists can claim Beck's longevity all while still pushing musical boundaries. While many of his contemporaries are retired or performing on the oldies circuit, Beck is still exploring and creating important music. Jeff Beck -- Live At The Hollywood Bowl is a fantastic tribute to this legendary artist.