Jeff Beck at The Olympia Theatre – Review and Photos
Jeff Beck at The Olympia Theatre – 21st May
Jeff Beck is somewhat of an enigma, a notoriously difficult and contrary musician, his back catalogue is one of the few in the world that can be truly called eclectic. His long and varied career has seen him cover ground in the fields of blues, jazz, rock, fusion and even a triumvirate of techno albums in the recent past. Although he has enjoyed massive critical acclaim during his career, commercial success on the vast scale enjoyed by his contemporaries has eluded him. Having said that, he played the Olympia tonight to a packed house.
Jeff Beck is part of the holy trinity of British guitar Gods (along with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, his ex cohorts in the Yardbirds) who have defined the guitar genre for almost every guitarist since the 60s. Beck can lay claim to the title of guitarists guitarist, being the most innovative and diverse of the three legendary figures. His music has been relentlessly groundbreaking, concentrating more on diversity rather than commerciality and has seen him work with some fine musicians in that time.
Becks recent album ‘Emotion & Commotion’ saw him return to his roots to a certain extent and a recent stint at Ronnie Scotts jazz club has reinvigorated public interest in him. Although looking somewhat uneasy on stage, it didn’t take him long to get into the swing of things in front of an adoring audience.
The show started with the heavy rock of ‘Loaded’ and carried on with a number of originals interspersed with remarkable cover versions. The show was a bit of a slow burner, taking a while before it really started to cook, but it was worth the wait. Becks mesmerising bottleneck take on ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ is truly a joy to hear and there was a doff of the cap to his Irish audience with a rendition of ‘Danny Boy’ which raised a cheer. It has to be pointed out that, despite working with many different vocalists over the years (most notably Rod Stewart during his stint in the Jeff Beck Group), Beck eschews vocals for a purely instrumental set these days (except for the odd guest appearance here and there). Becks command and control of the guitar is remarkable and his versatility allows him to mimic vocal lines such as in his rendition of the Beatles classic ‘A Day in the Life’, which offers him the opportunity to dispense with those most annoying lead singers! Purely instrumental shows can often be hard going, but Beck manages to hold the audiences interest for the entire show, while also acknowledging the superb musicianship in his backing band by allowing them to take centre stage for a solo spot each.
The highlight for me was ‘Brush with the Blues’ which saw Beck go right back to where it all started for him, the Blues. He rounded up the set with encores of ‘Rollin and Tumblin’ and his most poignant song, ‘Cause we’ve ended as lovers’ and it felt like it was over in a flash. Another artist getting on in years, and unlikely to be back in Dublin anytime soon, it was a pleasure to spend an evening in the company of this mesmerizing talent.
Review by Tony Martin
Photos by David Doyle