Thursday, August 27, 2009

March and April concerts, part 4 - Jeff Beck

On Thursday, April 23, I bundled my wife Victoria and my two teenage sons David and Ian into the car and we drove across the bay to the Fox Theater in Oakland to see the amazing the wonderful the fantastic the phenomenal Jeff Beck.

Jeff Beck has been one of my favorite guitar players as long as I've had favorite guitar players, and I've gone to see him practically every chance I had over the years (see below for a rundown). He's never been disappointing, but this night, the last night of a US tour, he was in particularly fine form. I also had the best vantage I've ever had, standing maybe twenty or thirty feet away from the center of the stage. The band was the same, and the setlist was very similar to that captured on the recent DVD release Jeff Beck Performing This Week at Ronnie Scott's. They played like they were having more fun than anyone else on Earth, and maybe they were. It must be a cool feeling to be able to play music at such a level. Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta was particularly on fire (he was also the drummer for the Five Peace Band concert a month earlier). (For a neat article on Vinnie, and some great anecdotes about his abilities, see this 2003 article from Drum! magazine.) And Tal Wilkenfeld is a phenomenal bassist, with amazing skill, musicality, and maturity from someone in their early twenties.

We all enjoyed it. It was the first time I'd taken my kids out somewhere to see live music with me since I dragged them to Yoshi's one Sunday afternoon many years ago to see Bill Frisell (they were bored stiff then, but this show they dug).

A word about the Fox Theater... it's an amazing facility, a revitalized 1920's movie theater that closed its doors in 1966 and stood there rotting and disintegrating for 42 years until it was remodeled and opened early this year. See the Fox Theater website for some photos and the history of the place.

My Jeff Beck shows prior to this:

  1. I first saw Jeff Beck play with the second Jeff Beck Group, the one that recorded Rough and Ready, at Carnegie Hall in NY in the spring of 1972.
  2. Next time was also in NY at the Academy of Music, with the Jan Hammer Group as his backing band, in the winter of 1976, I believe.
  3. Next I saw him at the Greek Theater in Griffith Park in LA with the There and Back group with Tony Hymas on keys and Simon Phillips on drums (can't remember who the bass player was) in 1980.
  4. There was a long gap until I next saw him, at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA with Tony Hymas on keys, Terry Bozzio on drums, and Pino Palladino on bass, in 1994, if I remember correctly.
  5. Next was at the Paramount Theater in Oakland with Jennifer Batten on guitar, Randy Hope-Taylor on bass, and Steve Alexander on drums, in 1999.
  6. Next, at the Concord Pavilion in Concord, CA with Tony Hymas on keys, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, and Pino Palladino on bass, in 2003.
  7. Next, at the Warfield in San Francisco with Jason Rebello on keys, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, and Pino Palladino on bass, in 2006.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

March and April concerts, part 3 - the Derek Trucks Band

Spring guitar madness continued on Wednesday, April 15, when my wife Victoria and I saw the Derek Trucks Band in San Francisco at the Grand Ballroom of the Regency Center.

Derek and his band seem to be on tour almost constantly, and it shows in the quality of their playing - it seems as if anyone can have an idea and they all pick it up immediately like they all share the same nervous system.

What can I say about Derek Trucks? He's still in his twenties and he's been one of the world's best guitar players for about ten years already. His playing is as distinctive and recognizable as – oh, say, maybe Carlos Santana – who just so happened to show up and play the last two songs or so before the encore along with the band (his Dumble amp was on the stage from the start so it was no surprise).

The highlight of the night for me was the fifteen or twenty minute version of "My Favorite Things" patterned after the Coltrane version.

The Grand Ballroom of the Regency Center used to be the Avalon Ballroom back in the late 60's, a large part of the San Francisco music scene. It closed in '68 when they lost their lease, and then for years it was a movie theater, until 2001. I remember seeing The Nightmare Before Christmas there many years ago.