Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Going into tonight's show, I knew about this much about Jeff Beck: He was in the Yardbirds, he's in the Hall of Fame twice, Pink Floyd was too intimidated to ask him to replace Syd Barrett, and every guitar player I respect has him in their top 3. It was cool to be at the Ryman and watch that many guitar heros watch their hero. Luckily, I had procured my ticket earlier in the week, not wanting to go through this again. There was no way I was going to miss this one.
I got in early enough to catch most of the opener, Tyler Bryan, who I'm pretty sure also opened for Heart. This time he was without his band, alone with just a guitar, and he did alright. He can really play guitar well, but his songwriting seems a little on the weak sauce side. He must have one helluva manager.
Jeff Beck came out and started the show much like a playoff hockey game, as soon as the puck dropped, it was on full force and wasn't letting up. I'm not familiar with his work enough to recognize any of his songs, but each one was unique and rocked with equal force. The band was super tight, featuring former Prince bassist Rhonda Smith, and Narada Michael Walden on drums. This rhythm section was both rowdy and funky, adding great dynamics to the songs, as well as providing the show's only lead vocals on covers "Rollin' and Tumblin'", "Little Wing", and Sly's "Higher". Jason Rebello added another dimension on the keys, providing something for Beck to bounce licks off of. Other moments of note were his personal takes on classic songs like "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and "A Day In The Life". Of course my favorite part came in the encore, when Beck paid tribute to his hero, Les Paul, with the only Strat-free number of the night.
Jeff Beck didn't say much during the show, but he didn't need to. He held a Nashville Ryman crowd, probably full of the harshest, holier than thou guitar players, in the palm of his hand and showed us all how it's done. I knew tonight that I was in the presence of a legend, one of the best guitar players ever. Clapton should be on the side of the stage changing this guys strings and swapping out guitars for him. Anyway, I'm really glad I got to see this show, and I can't wait to dive into the world of Jeff Beck.