reCAP :: Jeff Beck :: 2018.08.15

Aug 19  / Sunday
Words by: Jason Donnelly Photos by: Geoff Tischman

It’s not every day that you get to watch one of the greatest guitar players of all time strum his six-string for you, but that’s just what a sold-out show got to do at The Capitol Theatre. And before we get into the actual performance, I’m kind of sad about how few people truly dig into this guy’s catalog. What usually happens when I say Jeff Beck, is the person hearing the name says, “Oh my gosh, I love Beck!” and the confusion of listing songs off that don’t click with them begins.

Jeff Beck, not Beck Hansen (of “Loser” fame), got his start in England, singing in a church choir when he was ten and learning guitar on a borrowed guitar, he even tried to make his own. In the 60s he was asked to take Eric Clapton’s spot on The Yardbirds by recommendation of Jimmy Page (yes, that Jimmy Page). And somehow, over the next 50 years, Jeff’s never stopped getting better. He’s been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame not once, but twice, has 8 Grammy Awards, and if you look at his discography, he’s played with almost every rock star in the world.

When I got to the venue, it was filled with older gentleman, a whole lot of black Jeff Beck tour shirts, and oddly, a police presence outside, just in case. The love is real for Jeff Beck and a lot of the people in attendance had seen him a handful of times. Before the show even started I realized that this really IS your dad’s rock n’ roll. And as many of us have figured out, dad’s usually right about everything.

Jeff walked out on the stage to a sold-out audience. He had black pants, a white sleeveless shirt, black vest, and sunglasses. His white Fender shimmered in the light and he was joined by a cello player, bass player, and drummer.

No matter where you sat in the crowd you could see Beck’s signature fingerstyle playing kick off as soon as he started. By the end of the 2nd song, you realized that Jeff wasn’t just there to play guitar because his guitar doubled up as the vocals too. After every song the crowd found themselves standing in awe both literally and figuratively.

I’m not really sure if anyone there really believes that Beck is 74-years-old. His white electric guitar cable contrasted against the dark background of the stage and the songs bounced around from hard and heavy to slow and calming. Everyone on the stage with him is a part of the show and brings insane talent, but there’s no question about who the ringmaster is when you’re listening.

Around song five, Jimmy Hall comes out in a white fedora and tears into Morning Dew and you get a real understanding of how incredible his singing is when the second song, I Have to Laugh, hits. It’s all blues gold. Over the next few songs, the two of them intertwined taking the lead and handing it back and forth to one another.

One of the biggest highlights from the night happened about halfway through when the singer belted out, “I was born by the river,” and the crowd knew that they were in for one of the best Sam Cooke covers of "A Change Is Gonna Come" that’s ever been done. At one point Jeff actually “sang” lyrics with his guitar and I knew I’d continue being a fan forever.

On stage, he never moves very fast, but to be honest, he doesn’t need to. The speed is all in his fingers. He has the power to rock out, slow down, speed up, and at one point he played something that almost reminded me of electronic music. With the last song, a cover of The Beatles, "A Day In The Life," they go back and forth between harder rock and calm and the entire crowd comes to their feet as they all walk off stage.

After about two minutes, they return for the encore. The first song, Corpus Christi Carol, is slow and sweet with just the cellist and Jeff owning the song. Then everyone comes out to close the show with the classic, "Going Down," with Jimmy bringing out his harmonica skills and Jeff closing the night by simply saying, “I don’t know what to tell you. Thank you.”

Everyone who was in attendance this night was given a gift by not one, but five incredible musicians.

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