Many of us own guitars, last night I saw someone play a guitar. In fact, I believe on Friday night I sat among one of the larger gatherings of Minnesotans who own guitars. I also suspect a fair number of guitars were bought and sold in Minnesota on Saturday morning. Some of us probably felt fairly discouraged at how little we know about the limits of our instrument. Some were encouraged at the previously unrealized capabilities of our instrument.
In the "historic Minneapolis State Theater," Jeff Beck, and band (Jennifer Batten - guitar/synth, Andy Gangadeen - drums, and Randy Hope-Taylor - bass), may have put on the best show I've ever seen. What Jeff Beck does with fingers and a Strat is physically impossible. He putzed around a little with a wah petal, otherwise, every sound you hear comes from his hands. His fingers, in fact, since he doesn't use a pick. Ten quick fingers creating more sound effects and tonal variations than George Lucas gets from a team of effects engineers and a space ship full of computers.
For 30 years, I've studied Jeff Beck interviews and attended his rare Midwestern concerts, trying to glean something that could apply to my own music. He's so far above my capabilities that I rarely come away with much more than inspiration. Again, this year I am inspired but uninformed.
One of the great disappointments in seeing him live in the past was that he's always said that he wouldn't mess with a slide on stage. This show, he gave us two nothing-but-slide-guitar songs and he liberally used the slide on a half dozen other tunes. Compared to any other human playing guitar with a bottleneck, Jeff Beck is unbelievable. During Hip-Notica, I swear, he played with such incredible precision, within millimeters of the bridge, that he bordered on performing the impossible.
A spacey Minneapolis kid intro'd the show, doing something a guitar style and technique somewhere between Michael Hedges and Stanley Jordon. I thought Jeff might have lost his marbles, putting someone that good in front of his show. The kid described the set he was going to do as something where he would just try to "love you up, because Jeff is going to kick your ass." And he followed that by playing some wonderful two-handed tapping stuff. Still, he was right. Jeff took an audience full of guitar players and had them beating their hands till they were raw and he had us yelling for more till a few of us sounded like refuges from a TB ward.
Two encores, a 2 1/2 show that never let up. Fun lighting and visuals, lots of car stuff and 50's movies. It sort of reminded me of the kind of show that ZZ Top always tried to do but didn't have the chops to pull off.
A lot the stuff on Jeff's new records sounds sequenced, it's so complicated and polyrhythmic. It's not. The fucker is unbelievable. He is a ten fingered rock and roll orchestra. I wish he were going to be where ever you live, I'd rag on you to see him till he was back in France playing with hot rods.
Somewhere I read that Andy Gangadeen played drums for the Spice Girls. If so, he's redeemed himself.