Written by Bill Whiting – [email protected]
Photos by Scott Preston
For fans of Jeff Beck, it’s been a very long time since they had the chance to catch the rock and roll hall of famer play the lingering notes to “Eternity’s Breath/ Stratus.” Certainly, the guitar pioneer who has reached the age of 66, did not appear to have lost any edge as he ripped into “Led Boots” from the 1976 album, Wired, at Cincinnati’s PNC Pavilion on June 23. A solid backing unit of Jason Rebello on keyboards, Rhonda Smith on bass, and Narada Michael Walden on drums helped to infuse Beck with a new sense of urgency and purpose as he performed “Corpus Christi Carol” from his new disc, Emotion & Commotion. The recent release has many surprises, and Beck seemed to enjoy every twist and turn of “Hammerhead,” the football stadium Rodgers and Hammerstein chant along, “Never Alone,” and his stratocaster walk along the yellow brick road on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Indeed, it was the carefully chosen covers that seemed to shine so bright on a hot and humid June night. Smith’s bruising foray’s into “Rollin’ and Tumblin’ shook the house, Walden and Rebello’s intuitive backing fleshed out a take on The Impressions’ “People Get Ready,” and Beck’s searing journey through the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” was astonishingly breathtaking. Jeff Beck, along with the guitar sound he trail-blazed in the 60’s and 70’s, gets better with the passage of time. Plus, he’s that rare breed who is not afraid to play down his image, and have a little fun with his audience as he exhorted them to sing along on the Sly and the Family Stone classic, “I Want To Take You Higher.” Hopefully, the space between Jeff Beck’s appearances in the Queen City will be shorter next time.