Anna Chen and Jeff Beck
A busy week included a proper old-school lig at Jeff Beck's Rock 'n' Roll Party DVD launch, and helping to present pictures from my late father's archive at the National Maritime Museum (more on that tomorrow).
Thursday's rock lig spectacular for the launch of Jeff Beck's latest DVD was fun and frolicks from the start. Congregating at Westminster Pier with assorted musos, journos and music biz bods, our Thames Clipper was held up by an animated Ronnie Wood pleading with the crew not to cast off (or is that knitting?). He disappeared, we finally set off, only find ourselves drifting snoozily across the river to the London Millennium Eye pier on the South Bank where Woody's girlfriend had ended up.
With Woody and his snowy-mink-clad paramour on board, there followed a fast booze-laden trip through the dream-like vista of night-time London all lit up in colour like a showgirl in spangles, past the monstrous Shard-enfreude tower looking like the Tyrell Corporation in Blade Runner, to disembarkation at the O2 pier.
We were most generously fed and watered by Harvey Goldsmith, who now runs the British Music Experience under the billion-quid tent that is the Millennium Dome, as well as managing Mr Beck. I dunno about our publicly-funded edifice celebrating the best of British: the Dome looks like any shabby High Street, with all the same chain-sore eateries and coffee houses.
But the BME is a great mixture of museum and music venue. Luckily, it's also ideal for parties. Like this one. Sitting one table up from Jeff Beck, Cleo Rocas, Woody and other starry bods, we watched an edited version of Jeff's 'Rock 'n' Roll Party DVD, which was recorded at the Iridium Club in New York, where legendary guitarist Les Paul used to play.
The onscreen atmosphere was hot, stoked up to incendiary by some awe-inspiring guests such as Gary US Bonds, Brian Setzer and Trombone Shorty.
Regular Beck associate Imelda May possesses the warmest womanly voice: rich, textured and expressive like the Old School torch singers. Her "Cry Me A River" sent shivers up my spine, and her handsome rockabilly husband, Darrel Higham — also a champion vocalist, rhythm guitarist and Jeff's musical director for this occasion — could be seen gazing lovingly at his talented missus.
Peter Gunn, with the entire ensemble of Imelda's band and guest musicians – including Blues Brothers baritone saxophonst Blue Lou – was enormous fun.
I had a chat with Jeff afterwards and said how much I like the way he treats his female collaborators with such obvious respect: singer Imogen Heap, bassists Tal Wilkenfeld and Rhonda Smith, and now Imelda May, have all enjoyed the spotlight sharing Jeff's stage.
'I'm glad you noticed that,' he said. 'Women are smart. We are stupid.' He asked me if I'd seen some documentary film about the Spitfire women, and sang their praises to the wild blue sky where they flew so high. This is a guy who loves, likes and admires women. And if that's not catnip for smart cookies like wot I yam, I dunno what is.
We returned by launch along the beautiful Thames, past the scary Shard, and were deposited blissfully pissed back at Westminster having had a great night.
Nice one, guys.
Jeff Beck, Paul Jones and Charles Shaar Murray
- About: British Chinese poet, writer and broadcaster Anna Chen
- On the radio
- Arts Reviews
- The Steampunk Opium Wars
- Foot and Mouth Campaign
- RSC The Orphan of Zhao controversy
- A Bad Case of the Trots
- Reaching for my Gnu: poetry
- Print Room protest: In the Depths of Dead Love chronology
- Poetry Live!
- Yellow Peril Orientalism