Jeff Beck - Live at Ronnie Scott's

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I enjoy live concerts for a lot of reasons – the extra banter from the band, a more “festive” environment for listening as compared with a living room or ear buds, hearing how artists reinterpret their music (or contrarily, play it just as it sounds on a recording – ho hum), and the shared experience with friends come to mind.

On the other hand, there are negatives, possibly including the hassles of traffic and parking, increasing ticket prices, distant seating, poor sound quality, and other "fans" in the audience who consider concerts to be a personal venue to act as jerks.  And that doesn’t even include the tithing required by the evil empire known as Ticketmaster.

There is no perfect solution to consistently avoid the negatives and provide only the benefits of the live concert experience.  But there is a workable middle ground.

Concert DVDs have been extremely popular over recent years, and these have evolved from more of a static, documentary perspective to capturing the essence of the concert by planning at the inception of the idea Jeff Beck live at Ronnie Scottsrather than just showing up with cameras.  I first noticed the improvement in the DVDs for Eric Clapton’s two Crossroads Guitar Festivals, both of which are thoroughly enjoyable.

And such is the case here with Jeff Beck, Performing This Week Live at Ronnie Scott’s.  Disclaimer: This is actually a DVD review, but there is a CD released in 2008 of the same performance.  Ronnie Scott’s is a small but well established jazz club in London, and it’s considered an unlikely venue for a guitarist who, although experienced with jazz fusion genre, is largely known for playing his guitar loud and in large venues.

In this recording, Jeff Beck doesn’t concede his sound.  But playing in an environment where every note can be clearly heard is a challenge, one that Beck and his band exceeds.  Beck’s recorded work is probably not known to most, but he qualifies in every regard as a rock guitar legend.  Beginning with the Yardbirds in the 1960’s (from which came Clapton and Jimmy Page), he’s progressed through blues, jazz fusion, and rock power trio in the ensuing decades.  The song set included here includes some of all of these and more, but the performance joins together nicely despite the different styles.   The concert primarily includes instrumentals, but there are guest vocals from Joss Stone, Imogen Heap (a great complement to Beck's sound), and Clapton. There are an ample number of amazing solos, and the sound and video are so good that it’s an even debate whether the price of “being there” would be better than watching the DVD.  Each time you might wonder "how does he do that?" the camera zooms and lets you watch in detail. The bonus DVD has very interesting interviews, a counterpoint to the typical junk often included as "bonus" material.

Oh, and the price of the DVD was the same as the CD.  A no-brainer.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars!

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