Guitar God Jeff Beck Blesses Boston

Bonnie Godas

Recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Beck is considered to be a “Guitar God” by his fans and held true to reputation by blowing the top off the new House of Blues Boston. Beck has been performing for forty years with the Yardbirds, featuring Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, at sixty four years young is just as thrilling and mesmerizing as ever.

Sporting his familiar black mop-top haircut and looking very cool in his tight black pants and vest, Beck was backed by bass prodigy Tal Wilkenfeld, Jason Rebello on keyboards and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and took his fans on a musical journey ranging from Blues, Jazz Fusion and pure Rock that brought house down.

Opening up predictably with Becks Bolero and continuing through the approximately 85 minute set, Beck took that one guitar, the Fender Stratocaster, and proceeded to provide us with peaks of emotional sounds that screamed ecstasy drawing jaw dropping reactions from the crowd.

Beck doesn’t say much, and in point of fact, he didn’t even acknowledge the crowd until around the eighteenth song. But he doesn’t need to say anything as his playing says it all. No one can get a sound out of an instrument like Beck, who has some of the finest musicians puzzled when they try to wrap their minds around his unique style and method. Also, there is no political agenda here; Jeff Beck just want to do what he does best, which is rock hard and he knows that’s what the crowd wants too.

Beck drove through the set at full throttle making seamless transitions between songs like Pork Pie Hat, a Charles Mingus tune that links both rootsy blues with surreal jazz fusion sound, to “signature songs” like the more poppy Cause We Ended as Lovers. Written by Stevie Wonder, the song is a romantically surreal and highly charged emotional ballad from his album, Blow by Blow that went Gold in 1976. Another treat to his repertoire that has spanned decades of incredible music was his re-creation of a Day in the Life by the Beatles. Where some musicians have the nerve to remake a song in their own image and destroy it, Beck showed that once again he could take a masterpiece such as this, keep it musically intact, and create a style all his own.

Without surprise, Jeff Beck was brought back for more and ended his show with “Peter Gunn Theme”, by Henry Mancini that pulsated with a forceful, contagious baseline that took us all to the end of yet another amazing and unforgettable show.

Davey Knowles opened up for Beck with an acoustic set which took him away for a while from his current band “Back Door Slam”, who will hopefully be touring soon. Knowles, who hails from the tiny Isle of Man located between Ireland and Great Britain is an extremely talented musician with a voice remnant of early Eric Clapton. He finds his passion with styles like the blues, admiring amazing artists like Rory Gallagher. I spoke with him briefly during the show and he told me how honored he was to travel with Beck. I am also always curious to ask visiting artists what they think about Boston and Knowles response, like most, was quite favorable. “Boston has always been a wonderful place to play and to visit. The crowds are great-always quiet in the right places and noisy in all the right places! I can’t wait to come back with my full electric band this summer to promote my new album!”

We can’t wait either!