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Live: Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck: brotherly love again


In the age of "Guitar Hero," in which anyone with a few hundred bucks to spend on a video-game system can feel like a world-class shredder in a matter of minutes, what's the real deal still have to offer?

For one, the living, breathing version doesn't necessarily burn out after it's been on for an extended period. British guitar god Jeff Beck, who's been making jaws drop for nearly half a century now, pointed up that happy fact at his stirring show Tuesday at the El Rey, the first of two sold-out nights, one that was as much a master class as entertainment experience.

In fact, a number of other high-profile guitar slingers, including the Paul McCartney Band's Rusty Anderson, looked on with regular-Joe (and Jane) fans in fascination, admiration, frustration and exhilaration at the full spectrum of possibilities Beck unleashed from his instrument of choice, a vintage white Fender Stratocaster.

Beck pulled a rainbow of sounds and effects from the guitar -- most without going near the foot pedals of the guitar switches on the floor, during the hour-and-45-minute set, which consisted far and away of instrumentals. Some were elegant ballads built on the utter purity of tone Beck can produce, others rock, blues, funk, progressive rock and jazz-inflected numbers.

Then he sent an already agog crowd into apoplexy when near the end he peeled off the instantly recognizable first few notes of Curtis Mayfield's 1960s spiritual "People Get Ready."

A bolt of electric anticipation shot through the SRO crowd. Sure enough, out from the wings stepped Rod Stewart, his onetime band mate, who strolled to the mike for an intensely beautiful reading of the song that was a pop hit for him and Beck in 1983.

The mid-eighties was the last time these onetime band mates appeared together onstage. Stewart was briefly the lead singer in the Jeff Beck Group in the sixties, and he and Beck reunited a decade and a half later for their elegant collaboration. They played a handful of shows together before Beck pulled out of a joint tour and the musicians had not performed together since.

This time, it was heartfelt smiles and bear hugs as Stewart greeted his new newly inducted fellow member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Perhaps the only thing larger than rock-star ego is jaw-dropping talent. "It is a privilege to be on stage with this guy," Stewart said. Having reconnected with a foil and partner every bit his equal, Stewart plumbed the R&B/soul depths that were once his stock-in-trade before the jet-setting party-boy persona usurped his musical ambition. Taking the lead from their master-of-restraint boss, keyboardist Jason Rebello, bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta kept the accompaniment on low boil rather than shifting into overdrive, making Stewart's raspy voice sound all the more earnest.

It's the kind of material ideally suited to him, far more so than the Great American Songbook stuff he's nonetheless made a mint off of in the last decade.

Stewart stuck around for a second number, "I Ain't Superstitious," from the days of the Jeff Beck Group. Seeing how they fed off one another's energy, you couldn't help but wish Stewart would spend more time -- maybe even tour -- with the guitar great.

People get ready, indeed.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (2)

I met Jeff Beck, when he was 34 -years old, and i was 18. I went to his home and Assisted him . It was an experiance that i never forgot. I was new out here in California.
I has just arrived from Lakeland , Florida.

Jeff had just come off tour with Jan Hammer. And for three years no one had heard anything much about what had happened. To this day all the writers of these books about Jeff dont have much information. I just happened to meet him during this time.

I was taken on a journey. He was just starting to get into the slide. Jeff also plays the piano. His mother made him play the piano.

I dIdn't realize at the time, just who he was, and i myself had brought several albums, not
realizing that one of these that i brought from Florida was his. I sang at the time every song
that was on the radio. And soon after meeting Jeff , he realized this. He had me showing him these songs. And he and i worked with each other on some songs at his home. I Wrote a song with Jeff, for a possable use. He would tell me that the most important thing to him was his fans. Jeff would show up each time that i would move to a new place.

Jeff knew then that i would remember this one day. And that he was known all over the
world. He Fell asleep one time in my closet .Jeff was busy with these projects at the time. Jeff BecK and Rod Stewart perform together for the first time, since the 80's is really special. The fact is i had spoken to Rod Stewart in 2003, and he didn't give me a good reaction . I was really glad to see them back together.

I hope this will open a door for more in the future. Let not the ego get in the way!!

Jeff's long lost friend , Joan Bryant

Joan Bryant
You my friend have never gave up. I met you when you were 34. And i hope that one day
we can meet again. It was great to see this show on Video at the El Rey . And to see that you are back with Rod Stewart.

I would love to get back stage tickets to your shows in the future. It has been along time since i have seen you.

Joan Bryant


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