CD Review: Jeff Beck - Performing This Week...Live At Ronnie Scott's

This legendary Ronnie Scott's performance is available complete on CD for the first time.
  |   Comments

In 2007, Jeff Beck performed a series of concerts at the famed Ronnie Scott's club in London. A packed house, including several famous guests, attended every show and Beck had some big-name guest stars on stage as well. The concerts became something of legend and have been released on CD and DVD before, but never complete on CD, until now. Jeff Beck - Performing This Week...Live at Ronnie Scott's, culls all of the performances, including those with the guest stars as well as his set with the Big Town Playboys in a new two-CD set.

The show starts out in fine form with the familiar military drumbeat of "Beck's Bolero." Vinnie Colaiuta supplies the drums and is rock solid here and throughout. For his part, Beck's playing is both melodic and powerful, making for a stunning opener. A heavy "Eternity's Breath" leads into a funky "Stratus." Beck manages to straddle the line between rock, funk, blues, jazz and heavy metal like perhaps no other guitarist while still delivering his own signature sound.

Beck gives a heart wrenching performance of Stevie Wonder's "Cause We've Ended As Lovers," wringing every note out of his guitar and capturing the heartache of the song perfectly. Bassist Tal Wilkenfeld gives an extended solo on the track before Beck returns for some fine lead playing of his own.

The band launches into a killer groove with "Led Boots," showcasing Beck's fusion side to full effect while "Scatterbrain" lives up to its name with some lightning fast playing from all those on stage. The song is a jaw dropping display of virtuosity. The gem of disc one is Beck's Cover of "A Day in the Life" though, which has become something of a signature song for him. The performance is impressive, even recreating the orchestra bits on guitar.

Disc two opens with a soulful rendition of "People Get Ready." Beck plays the same arrangement used on the version he did with Rod Stewart, only with Joss Stone on vocals. Eric Clapton handles vocals and guitar on a gritty version of Willie Dixon's "You Need Love." Beck matches his vocal with some killer playing of his own.

Beck shifts gears into rockabilly mode during his set with the Big Town Playboys, opening with Gene Vincent's "Race With the Devil." While the original Crazy Legs album was a tribute to Vincent and his guitarist Cliff Gallup, this set stretches out and includes killer covers of "My Baby Left Me" and "Matchbox." It's amazing that the same guy whose guitar sounds like it's from another planet on some of his own material can adapt and sound like the rockabilly greats from the 1950s on these tracks.

The shows at Ronnie Scott's earned their legendary status for a reason. This was a master guitarist, still on top of his game, with a killer band, having fun. The guest stars only add to the fun and help to make Jeff Beck - Performing This Week...Live at Ronnie Scott's essential for any Jeff Beck fan.