Jeff Beck Live (and a nod to Valhalla)

Recently we went to see Jeff Beck live here in Portland. Occasionally I see something and in the moment I’m not feeling all that into it, but then I end up with a delayed reaction after it is all over.*

In the moment I wasn’t sure how I was feeling. I am pretty sure in the middle somewhere I was a little bored. I was also a little bit mystified by everyone screaming and yelling and jumping up. Mike and I have a snarky attitude towards people standing up as a sign of how overcome they are with a performance. It is like an epidemic here. Portland is giving it away to everyone which, to me, cheapens it…but I digress.

Jeff Beck is undoubtedly one of the greatest guitarists of all time. I was pretty jazzed to be able to see him live and the man has still got it. But I am a singer and it is harder to get me to invest in instrument-only work. It isn’t impossible of course. At the core I love music and am incredibly impressed with people who can play instruments. Pieces like Joe Satriani’s “Cool #9” comes to mind, and Mike continues to introduce me to some very good ambient music that sparks my own creativity. But the endless wailing of the guitar after a handful of songs just sort of…well…bored me a little bit.

When we got home Mike and I talked about the performance and I mentioned that it was a little strange that I once again saw a Jeff Beck performance and walked away talking about the amazing bass player. That is when it hit me though; Jeff Beck not only travels with some kick ass musicians in their own right but he is thrilled himself to play with them and also showcase their talent. It was as much their show as his. This is where I became incredibly impressed with him. I picked up no real sense of ego from him, just a love of the music and the performance and the collaboration and the experience. Which at this point in his career is nothing short of miraculous. Mike and I commented on the contrast of Jeff Beck to Robert Plant. I’ve seen one too many interviews with Plant to be comfortable with the man. His ego indeed has grown to magnificent proportions. I could be generous and think that maybe it is the editing of the interviews that is giving the egotistical slant, but at the core I’m not convinced. Plant has been similarly traveling with some stellar musicians in their own right, but you never quite lose the sense that they are just his back-up band.

So hats off to Jeff Beck. It felt like an honor to see him and I’m really glad we went. Some nice person put a video of Rhonda Smith’s solo, the bass player traveling with Jeff Beck up on YouTube. This video is from the performance in Canada which was the show immediately preceding the one we saw in Portland so it is essentially the performance we enjoyed seeing.


 *A lot like the movie Valhalla. When I was watching it I wasn’t really sure what I was watching (except I distinctly had the thought that it seemed impossible that someone that filthy and with one eye could actually still seem hot). It was only later thinking about the film that I decided I really liked it. One Eye was supposedly the savage barbarian, but in the end he was really the only one to retain his humanity.


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