Jeff Beck – Live at Chastain Park

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Well known and beloved to Atlantans, Chastain Park has been a concert venue for decades, but regardless of the music, it remains an event of itself.  Despite growing competition, Chastain continues their summer traditions with a robust schedule of musical acts… granted, ones who made their claim to musical fame long enough ago Beck hipsta that their fans can now afford to see them again in their affluence.

Still, what sets Chastain apart from other outdoor venues is that they usually allow patrons to bring their own food and beverages.  The tiered seating allows for reserved tables or bringing in one’s own smaller tables, and it is common for patrons to bring tablecloths, wine bottles/glasses, and candles for a romantic evening.  We didn’t dress the table, but we provided for ourselves nicely, with Fellini’s Pizza, wine, and several brands of craft beer.  Oh, and water.  Because it was a hot, steamy night.

For this particular outing, there were seven of us, representing a range of familiarity with Jeff Beck.  As mentioned in my previous post, he’s a guitarist.  An excellent one.  One, in fact, that I saw in the 1980’s on a double bill with Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Stevie won the show handily that night, but part of this was due to Beck’s preference for a power trio approach that blasted all subtlety from his playing, as well as the interest of many of those attending (who left early with us).  Skip forward 20+ years to the more mature Jeff Beck, to be 67 years old within the month.

The concert began with a set by Imelda May, who was a guest on Beck’s most recent CD.  Her contribution there was a slow, soulful voice on “Lilac Wine,” so it was quite a surprise to find that she leans towards Rockabilly.

With her band sporting retro looks, May was no stranger to coquettish poses, but what began as a curiosity would quickly win the crowd over.  May has a strong, throaty voice that, coupled with her ample stage presence, took no prisoners.  While many of the songs were unknown, a cover of “Tainted Love” got many of the crowd on its feet, a feat in itself given the crowd’s preoccupation with dining and conversation, not to mention the the stifling heat.  The only thing lacking was a cover of “Stray Cat Strut.”  More than most opening acts, I’m certain this Irish singer gained a number of fans.

Beck took the stage just as the sun was setting and the temperature became less distracting.  One of the first things Jeff Beck that one might notice is that Jeff Beck looks to be in great shape.  But, whether first or second, it’s hard to avoid noticing his apparent preference for a different genre of wardrobe malfunction.  I know many guitar greats want to draw attention to themselves and play the rock star role, but at any age, at least in this era, his “costume” didn’t work. 

Okay, that’s my negative comment about the concert.

The point is that he doesn’t need a costume to draw attention to himself.  The guy can play.  Anything.  And so it went – heavy rock, jazz fusion, blues, popular, classical(ish)… whatever.

Jeff Beck 

The first several songs were well received, but it wasn’t until “People Get Ready” that the crowd starting showing real enthusiasm.  Aside from it being one of Beck’s few (or only) entries to pop FM radio, the familiar tune and the stellar guitar work proved that having Rod Stewart alongside to sing was superfluous even way back when.

Two blues songs, “Rollin and Tumblin” and “Brush With the Blues” were well received, particularly the latter which drew a deserved standing ovation.  The song didn’t belabor the familiar blues progressions, and instead carried a variety of solo styles that didn’t waste a note.

His treatment of two popular songs written by others were also spectacular in Rhonda Smiththeir own right.  “Over the Rainbow” had its expected appeal, helped by the dual video boards  that displayed his careful use of the tremolo arm.  Even better, to my taste, was The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” which closed out the main set.

Bassist Rhonda Smith added some excellent vocals in addition to aggressive and/or nuanced bass lines, and Narada Michael Walden, an almost legendary Narada Michael Waldendrummer, provided the percussion as each song demanded. 

Keyboardist Jason Rebello also contributed some nice solos, as well as filtered vocals through Beck’s guitar (ala Peter Frampton).

But those were the dressing around the main course. Beck primarily played his white Stratocaster, rarely adopting any effects through his pedals.  It was all about bending the strings, vibrations of the notes or the guitar neck, manipulating the volume/tone knobs while playing, or, most typically, using the whammy bar.  I hate to return to the subject of age, but Jeff BeckBeck not only bends guitar strings; he physically bends, flails, or crouches with his music.  Sure, he poses a little, but he hasn’t lost a step, literally or figuratively, with what he brings to a performance.    

We were very fortunate that our seats were on the right of the stage.  Beck played to the left while facing his band mates almost exclusively through the show.  If buying tickets, plan for that, or you’ll have little to see.

The main disadvantage to Chastain is that due to its residential proximity, shows must end at 11:00 p.m.  One wonders if Beck would have been more involved with the crowd had there been more time, or whether Imelda May would have extended her set.  For certain, any nearby residents would have heard his guitar in perfect clarity; the acoustics were amazingly clear.

After a very brief break following the main set, Imelda May returned with the band for two of the three encores, one of which was a repeat of their Grammy pairing of “How High the Moon.” Beck said she stole Jeff Beck and Imelda Maythe show, but… no.  She claimed her space, but it was definitely Beck’s show throughout.

Based on what he’s played elsewhere, the songs below are close to the set-list for Atlanta.  If you have any corrections, please post it and I’ll correct it.

  1. Eternity's Breath
  2. Stratus
  3. Led Boots
  4. Hammerhead
  5. People Get Ready 
  6. Rollin & Tumblin
  7. Never Alone
  8. Big Block
  9. Over the Rainbow
  10. Blast
  11. Angels
  12. Brush With The Blues
  13. Higher
  14. A Day In The Life 


  1. Lilac Wine (with Imelda May)
  2. How High the Moon (with Imelda May)
  3. Nessun Dorma

Jeff Beck

These and other photos can be viewed HERE.

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