July 24, 2024

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Review: Jeff Beck tribute concert led by Eric Clapton: 14 videos, Photo

Jeff Beck was honored on Monday (May 22, 2023) by many of his musical peers and acolytes at the first of two tribute concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The pair of shows were announced on March 10 by his wife, Sandra Beck, and Eric Clapton, to honor the memory and artistry of the trailblazing rock guitarist who died on Jan. 10 at age 78 after a sudden illness. The first of two shows featured significant wattage in its all-star lineup with Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Billy Gibbons, and Johnny Depp—who toured with Beck in 2022 during the legend’s final tour—among the many artists joining Clapton. Tickets for the shows quickly sold-out.

The first thing the audience saw was Beck’s guitar on a pedestal on stage, under a spotlight. While other touches were far more subtle—Depp, for instance, wore a Beck bracelet on his left arm—others were there for all to see: Clapton and Stewart hugged when they performed “People Get Ready” towards the emotional evening’s end.

The all-star lineup at A Tribute to Jeff Beck, Royal Albert Hall, May 22, 2023

The career-spanning concert featured a broad assortment of songs associated with the guitar legend. Early on were a pair of Yardbirds hits, “Shapes of Things” (with Clapton singing lead) and “Heart Full of Soul.” Clapton then welcomed Derek Trucks, and soon thereafter, Susan Tedeschi to the stage.

Other career-spanning repertoire included “Freeway Jam,” so closely associated with Becks 1977 live album with the Jan Hammer Group. Beck was a frequent touring partner of ZZ Top. On this night, the band’s Billy Gibbons performed “Rough Boy,” which they had played together many times.

John McLaughlin, 81 years old, who led the jazz fusion band, Mahavishnu Orchestra, performed a song that Beck often played: “You Know You Know” from the band’s 1971 debut.

When Beck passed, his peers shared their grief, many describing him as their “hero” and “inspiration.” “You were the greatest, my man,” wrote Stewart, when Beck passed. During Rod’s set at the May 22 tribute concert, he said, “I never thought I’d be here playing a concert in tribute to my dear old pal, Jeff Beck.” He kicked off his mini-set with “Infatuation,” his 1984 hit that featured Beck on guitar. Here, he was joined by Clapton and Wood, with Slowhand taking Beck’s solo.

After introducing Gary Clark Jr., Stewart joked, “I’ve never seen so many guitars in my life!” He then introduced “the greatest civil rights song ever written,” as the band began the unmistakable introduction to “People Get Ready,” the 1965 song by the Impressions that Beck and Stewart recorded in 1985. During Clark Jr.’s solo, Clapton and Stewart hugged, earning more crowd applause.

Clapton then sang “Going Down,” recorded by the Jeff Beck Group in 1972, as the evening’s finale.

Other performers included Doyle Bramhall, Robert Randolph, Olivia Safe, Joss Stone, and from the Jeff Beck Band, Rhonda Smith, Anika Nilles and Robert Stevenson. Surplus income from the concerts will be donated to the Folly Wildlife Rescue based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

“One of my band of brothers has left this world, and I’m going to dearly miss him,” said Wood when Beck passed.