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Monday, 15 February 2010
Jeff Beck makes Eric Clapton sing "Hi Ho Silver Lining", O2, 14 Feb 2010: review
What could be better than spending Valentine's Day evening at a concert starring two of the most revered rock guitarists in the history of music? Even the transport ran smoothly and we were on our train home from London's O2 Centre within minutes of the show ending — amazing for a Sunday.
Jeff Beck appeared with his new line-up, minus the fabulous Tal Wilkenfeld but plus the sleazegrindy Rhonda Smith who wore a fabulous array of silver jewellery that I feared would reduce her bass to splinters. Shrek-alike Narada Michael Walden, only not green and without funny ears, smashed the living daylights out of his drum kit like a happy baby with an endless supply of breakable rattles. Jason Rebello, the only survivor from the previous line-up, did the Jan Hammer biz as required from any Beck keyboard person.
In typical Jeff fashion, both his guests were of the female persuasion. Sharon Corr with blue violin and fetching pectoral butterfly, accompanied the band on a new track off his next album (EDIT: "Mna Na H'Éireann" "Women of Ireland", thanks OzQueen ) and Imelda May in an elegant flame-coloured gown reprised her favourite, Lilac Wine.
Not content with this musical grouping, Jeff was also backed by a small orchestra. The man himself abandoned his customary all-white garb and pixie-boots which did make him look like an Essex refugee and added black to his wardrobe, with a cute black top over a white under-shirt. Tonight we were mostly wearing sleeveless as usual to show off his all-year-round tan and arms toned to within an inch of their lives, set off with a wide silver bangle.
There were a lot of new numbers I didn't recognise but he climaxed with spectacular rendition of Nessun Dorma. I didn't manage to record that but you can see a video of the same from last August here. Hmm, last night's version was a lot more intense. Hopefully, you'll get to see it when the DVD comes out.
Jeff's hair, the colour of well-waxed furniture, looked like Heather Mills had got hold of it and given it the Macca treatment. (Loved One insisted Jeff's hair has been the same barmaid black for aeons so it may have been the lights.) Eric Clapton, on the other hand, is proud of his grey locks. He played an understated blues set with two keyboard players, drums, bass and two backing singers. And no orchestra.
I Shot The Sheriff was brilliant with an exciting lengthy guitar solo. "Why isn't that noodling?", I asked my handsome escort who had acquired great seats in the first block of banked seating. "Because it goes somewhere, " came the wise reply.
Cocaine was magical (hmm, maybe I should rephrase that). Refraining from indulging his fans too much, he stayed away from his other greatest hits (I wanted Layla, I'm that unsophisticated) and played basically a blues set plus some others such as Living On Faith and Tell The Truth.
The treat of the night was when Jeff walked back on to play with his mate. They make a lovely couple, completely different and yet brilliantly matched. Their history goes back 40 years to when Beck replaced Clapton in the Yarbirds in the 1960s. Nice to see them together. The set climaxed with I Wanna Take You Higher which did just that.
One video person is uploading onto YouTube so check out their page. I'm posting the video I shot on my mobile of the encore, Hi Ho Silver Lining, which Beck once complained hung around his neck "like a pink toilet seat". It was most amusing to see Mr Clapton singing this and we loved it.