Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Beck’

Ten Best New Music Concerts of 2010.

December 7, 2010

No one can possibly see every concert of the year so this is really the 10 best concerts that I saw in 2010.  And I saw a lot of shows and some astounding performances.  Here’s the list.

John Diliberto’s Ten Best Concerts of 2010

Jonsi at Electric Factory, Philadelphia
Jonsi gave a performance that was transcendent, visually and musically.  The Sigur Ros singer/guitarist created a theatrical work that was  meticulously choreographed,  yet ragingly intense.

Nels Cline Singers at Johnny Brenda’s,  Philadelphia
Nels Cline, erstwhile guitarist for Wilco, turned in a tour de force performance with his trio, The Nels Cline Singers.  The music ranged through moments of tranquility, hard-edged groove and raga-like melodicism, all of which emerged from a sea of distortion.  (see complete review).

Jeff Beck at The Borgata, Atlantic City
The 60s guitar icon gave a retrospective walk through his career and played most of his 2010 album, Emotion & Commotion.  He laid all guitar gods to waste with a riveting 90 minute performance that revealed why he’s the Wizard of the Whammy Bar. (See complete review).

Arcade Fire at Mann Music Center, Philadelphia
With their expanded ensemble,  Arcade Fire launched a big arena-style assault full of energy and passion, grooves that would not stop and melodies that stayed in your head long after they echoed off the Mann Music Center hillside.

Massive Attack at Moogfest, Asheville, NC
Even though they played an arena, Massive Attack maintained fidelity to their sub-down tempo moods.  But make no mistake, this music thundered with a pair of drummers , booming bass and Angelo Bruschini‘s burning solos that cut  serrated edges on Massive Attack’s electronic orchestrations.  Martina Topley-Bird lit up the stage every time she sang. (See complete review)

Martina Topley-Bird w/Massive Attack

The Pineapple Thief at Nearfest, Bethlehem, PA
The Pineapple Thief stole the day for me with the most atypical set of  NEARfest 2010. No extended guitar solos, keyboard orchestrations or complex rhythm designs for this quartet.  Instead they concentrated on songs and arrangements, building tension and release through repetition and nuanced, albeit highly distorted sound.  (See complete review).

The Octopus Project at Moogfest, Asheville, NC
The Octopus Project manage to be effervescent even when sending out industrial chaos with metal beats and buzzsaw synthesizers.  One of the most exuberant performances at Moogfest (see complete review).

Ludovico Einaudi at Angel Orensantz Center, New York City
Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi played a purely solo set lasting over two hours of liquidly flowing solo piano, weaving and reinterpreting his compositions on the fly in the surreal space of the Angel Orensantz Center.  You can hear him do it again on Echoes Sonic Seasonings.

Michael Rother @ International House

Michael Rother & Hallogallo 2010 at International House,  Philadelphia
The German guitarist brought his trio in to reinvent the music of Neu, Harmonia and his own solo works. Elements of surf guitar, Eastern tonalities and acid sustain emerged in Rother’s playing.  You haven’t heard this much fuzzed, phased and filter-swept guitar in years as Rother deployed lines that were minimalist in scope, but epic in resonance.  (Read a complete  review)

10 Hotchip at Moogfest, Asheville, NC
Hot Chip turned in one of the most powerful sets of MoogFest.   Their sound updates 1980s Techno-pop with infectious songs and  long instrumental vamps like “Over and Over.”  It has a chorus that shouts “Laid back! We’ll give you laid back,” which they certainly didn’t.  Their albums will not prepare you for how hard they rock in concert.  (Read full review)

Getting Highly Honorable Mention:
Portico Quartet @ World Cafe Live,  Philadelphia (Read full concert review)
The Album Leaf @ First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia
The  Black Angels @ TLA, Philadelphia (read full review)

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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Nels Cline, erstwhile guitarist for Wilco, turned in a tour de force performance with his trio, The Nels Cline Singers that started with a 35 minute excursion that moved through moments of tranquility, hard-edged groove and raga-like melodicism, all of which emerged from a sea of distortion.  It was like speeding down the highway at night, one station dissolving into static as another moved into range.

Jeff Beck-Live Electric Assault

June 6, 2010

Jeff Beck is Eternal.
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Jeff Beck

I always felt like Jeff Beck owed me one.  The last time I saw him live was in the summer of 1969 headlining a day at the Newport Jazz Festival.  This was the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood. They followed powerhouse performances by Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Blood Sweat & Tears and especially Rahsaan Roland Kirk with a lackluster set that illustrated why this band was about to break up.   It was a disappointment for a young, 15-year-old rock junkie.   Well, it took over 40 years,  but last night he paid me back in full with a hyper-charged performance in The Music Box at Atlantic City’s Borgata Casino.

Jeff Beck doesn’t look like a sexagenarian rocker.  He bounds on stage wearing a white sleeveless shirt, topped by a bumblebee vest and another black vest on top of that.  His bare sinewy right arm is adorned with 4 inch silver bands around his bicep and wrist.  He bends into his solos stalking the stage in white lace-up boots.  I’d expect that from most rockers, but not this soon to be 66-year-old guitar-slinger who transformed rock guitar in the 1960s and went on to create innovative music throughout the next four decades, often punctuated by long stretches of semi-retirement.   Yet,  he proceeded to lay all guitar gods to waste with a riveting 90 minute performance.

Facing an adoring, sold out audience that looked nothing like the regular casino patrons, Jeff Beck brought in a seasoned quartet to essay music from across the post 1960s part of his career, drawing much of the music from his recent album, Emotion & Commotion.  It made me realize how unusual it was to hear instrumental music played in a rock context like this, albeit rock with heavy doses of jazz, classical, folk and funk.

Beck can be the most soulful player, milking single notes for every drop of emotion on ballads like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or the Celtic inflections of “Women of Ireland.”  Mostly playing a white Fender Strat, he revealed why he’s the Wizard of the Whammy Bar. It’s almost never out of his fingers as notes are bent and twisted into ricochet melismas of melody that rarely go where you expect them to go.  And when he rocks out, that whammy bar elicits screams from his strings, as it did on take-no-prisoner renditions of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” and “Dirty Mind,” both from his 2000 electronica assault, You Had It Coming.  His guitar squonked and squealed like a train putting on the brakes on a Max Escher train track.

Beck paced the show brilliantly, bringing the audience to dance fever ecstasy with a wild version of Sly & the Family Stone’s “I Wanna Take You Higher” and leading them into the quietest contemplation with the hymnal refrains of “Corpus Christi Carol.”   He played several tracks from his Blow By Blow and Wired periods, which accounts for his selection of Narada Michael Walden on drums and Rhonda Smith on bass.  Beck probably heard of Walden, a member of Beck’s Wired group,  when the R&B producer/drummer was with the second edition of The Mahavishnu Orchestra.   Looking like The Shield‘s Michael Chiklis in drag with purple sequined vest and white gloves, he favored that explosive double bass drums to the gut approach of Billy Cobham.   Smith comes from the Stanley Clarke School of Thumb-slap Bass Twang.  That’s my least favorite bass institution, but she held things together nicely.

For a sweet homage to the late-Les Paul, he strapped on his black Gibson Les Paul  guitar, playing along to Paul and Mary Ford’s “How High the Moon.” Beck and keyboardist Jason Rebello replicated Paul’s tape speed shifting and over-dubbed enhanced arrangement live.

Jeff Beck is enjoying something of a renaissance as people are beginning to recognize a rock guitar genius who has authenticity etched into every note he plays.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))


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