Several months ago, Jeff performed a tribute show for the late Les Paul, at the Iridium, in NYC. The artists that night included smoking vocalist, Imelda May and her band, Trombone Shorty, and Brian Setzer. The whole thing was broadcast on PBS, as a special, and it was fantastic.
Jeff Beck demonstrated an uncanny ability to genre hop into this Les Paul and Mary Ford material. It was a treat to see him checking in with some amazing performances on something other than a Jackson Strat (not that there's anything wrong with that). Anyway, I had never seen him play a hollow body, nor any of the amazing array of vintage Gibson and Gretsch guitars that he pulled out for that show.
During the interview segues, it was obvious that Jeff was a huge Les Paul fan growing up, and he was very animated and enthusiastic about the music. I watched the show several times, and was convinced that I would never get to see something like this live.
After the broadcast, I pre-ordered the DVD and CD of the show. They have since arrived, and I am still enjoying both (even after repeated watchings or listenings).
When they posted the opening schedule for the Moody/ACL Live earlier this year, I immediately locked my eyes on this show. It was in fact the first ticket I bought for the venue, even though it ended up being the fifth show I have seen there. I'm very glad I acted fast, because I was able to score a 2nd row seat.
I got there early and parked myself in my seat, not willing to miss one second. There was no opener , so things kicked off promptly at 8PM. (I pity any act that would have attempted to open for this show)
The format was very similar to the PBS special, minus Shorty and Brian. The band consisted of Jeff and Imelda May's band:
- Darrel Higham - guitar and vocals
- Al Gare - Bass
- Stephen Rushton - Drums
- Dave Priseman - Trumpet
- Leo Green - Tenor Sax
- Blue Lou Marini - Baritone Sax
Special mention needs to be made of Darrel, because he is also an amazing vocalist and performer. He in fact opens the show, and sang quite a few numbers before Imelda appeared on stage for the first time. He is equally as charismatic.
Once she was present, things really took off. Imelda is a very strong singer and has an incredible stage presence. I should also mention that she sings along to a recording of her own voice for quite a few songs, so that it is self-harmonized. This worked surprisingly well, but I would still have preferred to see her with some real backing vocalists.
I believe they played for over 2 hours, and while I tried to keep track of the setlist, the songs were going by too quickly to accomplish this. I believe that this setlist from a few weeks ago, is fairly close to the one for this show.
This show was everything I had hoped for and more. Jeff was clearly enjoying playing the music of one of his idols, and was incredible to watch. My only regret was not bringing a real camera. These cell phone pictures are the best that I could manage, given the lighting:
In closing, I had heard that Jeff would be heading immediately for LA to do the Tonight Show, later in the week, and then American Idol, where he would be performing with each of the finalists. (Normally, I'm not much of an Idol fan, but in this case I will be making an exception).
The ACL Live sight has some additional photos here.