Colston Hall was abuzz with anticipation as the crowds filled the bars waiting to hear their idol Jeff Beck play tonight in Bristol. First there was the support act Mike Sanchez, with his piano centre stage, he was enjoying playing as ever from the first note. The set was full of energy and verve of Mike’s ebullient boogie-woogie style a great, if too short, set that included I’m Ready (Fats Domino) and Real Wild Child (Jerry Lee Lewis), the set was a perfect warm-up to the evening.
The band supporting Jeff is lean and mean with Rhonda Smith (bass) who brings the skills and style honed over a decade that she spent alongside Prince and a host of other leading artists now bringing her magic on bass to Jeff Beck; and completing the rhythm section was the live-wire drummer Jonathan Joseph and completing the backing trio was jazz guitarist Nicolas Meier playing rhythm and acoustic guitar who had the immense task of keeping up with the guitar maestro that is Jeff Beck. The set delivered tonight was full of the familiar and the new, the theme was guitars rule. Jeff is the master of stretching what is possible on a guitar, with a minimalist board of tricks. Little Wing got the Beck treatment pure class, especially with the solid but imaginative bass platform provided by Rhonda one of the best bass players I have heard, giving Jeff Beck all the room so that he could strut his stuff.
This was musicianship that needs no words as he interpreted and re-invented music from a wide scope of musical genres, the re-working that really hit the spot was The Beatles; A Day In The Life with all the complexities that the original created in the studio, live in Colston Hall. Three of the numbers also played showing the inter-dynamics between the band and Jeff Becks awesome guitar skills played were Blue Wind off Wired album, and Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers & Constipated Duck. All too soon the dynamic showcasing set was over and the conservatively dressed Jeff Beck in Black and White that contrasted with the searing colours and musical shapes he created with his white guitar left the stage. The surprising song for me was the traditional folk song Danny Boy performed in a way we are familiar with no extra chords or shaping until that climatic note so high and this Jeff ceased and bended to make this traditional song his own. The band returned with singer Joss Stone and the two off them immensely enjoyed two joyous tracks, I Put a spell on You and Rollin’ and Tumblin’ demonstrating the Yardbirds roots are still running under the surface of the sophisticated immaculate guitar wielding Jeff Beck!