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In concert: Jeff Beck at Wolf Trap

jeff beckRecent Rock Hall inductee Jeff Beck showed off his skills at Wolf Trap. (All photos by Andrew Propp/FTWP)

By Mike Joyce

You can count on British rock guitarist Jeff Beck to serve up two things in concert - impeccable musicianship and an improbable selection of tunes. That alone was enough to generate numerous standing ovations when the 65 year old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer fronted a thundering quartet at Wolf Trap on Monday night.

Beck's virtuosity was indeed breathtaking at times, especially when the din of Stratocaster-driven power chords gave way to exquisitely sustained melodic arcs, subtle harmonic nuances and an unusually colorful assortment of rhythmic textures and tweaks. Beck doesn't use a pick - just his fingers and whammy bar, which is one of the reasons why he has such a distinctive and expressive sound.

jeff beck

Over of the course of a dozen and a half tunes, drummer Narada Michael Walden, bassist Rhonda Smith and keyboardist Jason Rebello specialized in the sharply syncopated funk thrust showcased on Beck's recent CD "Emotion & Commotion." But there were mood shifts aplenty, with engaging or novel arrangements of "People Get Ready," "A Day In the Life" and "I Want To Take You Higher." (And let's face, if you have to hear Beck indulge his taste for sentimental pop, listening to him play "Over The Rainbow" in a summery, outdoors setting isn't a bad way to go.)

When he returned for the inevitable encores, Beck was toting a Les Paul guitar. He saluted Paul, the late guitarist and inventor, with an appropriately nimble and multi-layered version of "How High The Moon." A flamboyant flourish brought the show to a close, with the band performing "Nessun Dorma," as if arranged for Beck's own pops symphony.

jeff beck

jeff beck

By David Malitz  |  June 8, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Jeff Beck  
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I attended the concert last night with three other aging rockers. We all agreed that it was one of the best concerts we ever attended. The musicianship was excellent, the sound was just fantastic, and the venue could not have been better. Thank you Jeff Beck for doing what you do best, pleasing audiences with great music and musicians you love to play. Wow!

Posted by: jayhansen | June 8, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I saw Jeff Beck last night and it was an unbelievable concert!!! I agree with the previous comment that it was one of the best concerts we've ever seen.

Posted by: lesliej1 | June 8, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Amazing! Fantastic!

Rhonda Smith on bass was smok'in hot. She had the crowd eating out of her hands.

Narada Michael Walden was a powerhouse of energy and funk.

And then there was Jeff Beck. Juxtaposing sick and twisted leads against exquisite melodies, hard driving rock and then tender embellishments.

Amazing! Fantastic!

There are none better in my book and he/they were on last night!

Thank you, Jeff

Posted by: ledbootz | June 8, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I agree with all the comments above plus I would like to add that Jason Rebello did a fine job as well(the keyboardist).Nice to see Michael Waldon again. Not only did he play on Jeff Beck's "Wired" album but he was the drummer on the second version of John Mclaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1974. The first track on the first album was "Eternity's Breath".The first thing Jeff Beck played last night was "Eternity's Breath".I was in awe of Rhonda Smith.As far as Jeff goes,I cant add anything to the previous comments.Thanks !!!

Posted by: MrMike1138 | June 8, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

i thought it was a great show overall, but I was a bit disappointed that he only played for an hour and a half. I go to a lot of shows and expect the headliner to play for two hours or more, since I've only seen two other shows in the last decade when the headliner played less than that. and what happened to Imelda May? her name was on my ticket, but she was nowhere to be found. I thought an explanation was in order

Posted by: red2million | June 9, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

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