The encores were all from Free's canon. "Walk In My Shadow" got the fans on their feet and "Alright Now" kept them on their feet and got them into the aisles and dancing with abandon. Rodgers proved that he is still a singer to be reckoned with and that his exclusion from the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame
is definitely a criminal offense.
After another intermission, Jeff Beck and his band were up. When they took the stage, before they played a note, the group was met with a tremendous standing ovation. As usual, Beck sported his sunglasses. He wore a light shirt with rolled up sleeves and a dark vest. He also wore a large sparkly sweatband on his right wrist, presumably as much to stay dry as to protect his wrist from the strings at the base of his guitar.
He was backed by an amazing band that featured Rhonda Smith on bass, Vanessa Freebairn-Smith on cello and 12 string electric guitar, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and vocalist Jimmy Hall, who is the lead singer of the southern rock band Wet Willie. Hall also played the harmonica.
Beck's set was a guitar clinic. His hands and fingers move ever so slightly, yet the sounds he coaxed out of his axe seem otherworldly. He is truly a guitar god. He and his band put on a performance that could best be described as a jazz concert that sounded like a rock 'n' roll show. The musicianship was intense and precise.
It has been said that the fans do not come to see Beck perform specific songs, they come to hear him play guitar. His playing is mesmerizing and hypnotic. No-one plays like Beck. He produces sounds that bridge the gap between rock, jazz, pop, blues, funk, soul, classical and all other genres. His musical gumbo has to be heard to be properly understood, and even then it is almost impossible to accurately describe.
Beck is not one to hog the spotlight. He just plays and continues to play. He does, however, provide his band members with opportunities to shine. Each was given a chance to showcase their talent. Smith's bass solo was a funky and strong homage to the guitar style of her employer. Colaiuta drum solo was tasty, syncopated, forceful and rhythmic. Freebairn-Smith is clearly a musical genius in her own rite. She can play hard, she can play soft, she can pluck the strings on her guitar and she can coax the most beautiful and divergent sounds from her cello. Hall's vocal stylings perfectly suited the songs Beck chose to include in his set.
On this night the set's highlights included: "Stratus," "Nadia," "You Know You Know," "Morning Dew," "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" and "Brush With the Blues." Though the songs played were secondary to Beck's performance on guitar, vocal highlights included the covers of "I Have To Laugh" (Otis Ruch) "Little Wing" (Jimi Hendrix) and "Superstition" (Stevie Wonder), each of which was sung by Jimmy Hall.
The main set ended with a powerful and amazing version of the Beatles' "A Day In The Life." It was awe-inspiring; you could hear a pin drop while Beck delivered a version of the song that Lennon and McCartney only wish they could have created. Throughout the entire main set, Beck said nothing. His only comment during the evening was uttered when he came out for the encore and received a standing ovation along with whistles, cheers and thunderous applause. He said, "Thank you!" He then raised his hands, spread them out and said, "You have no idea how much it means when I hear this." The ensuing encores were "Corpus Christi Carol" on which Beck was backed by cello only and "Going Down" with Hall on vocals.
Jeff Beck continues, at age 74, to prove that he is a world-class guitarist who is still at the top of his game and remains as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. While it isn't always easy to keep the attention of an audience during a mostly instrumental performance, Beck's virtuosity kept the audience engaged and enraptured.
Photo Credit: Christine Connallon
[Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon