DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Jeff Beck – Live at Ronnie Scott’s 2007, Blu-ray (2009)

Whether you’re a big fan of Jeff Beck, or just a fan of great guitar playing, you’ll love every minute of this disc.

Published on April 17, 2009

Jeff Beck – Live at Ronnie Scott’s 2007, Blu-ray (2009)

Jeff Beck – Live at Ronnie Scott’s 2007, Blu-ray (2009)

Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment EVBRD 33326-9

Video: 1.78:1for 16:9 color 1080 HD

Audio: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, English DD 5.1, PCM Stereo

Extras: Interviews, 7 Track Rockabilly Set with the Big Town Playboys

Subtitles: Multiple options for interview content only

Feature Length: 191 minutes

Rating: *****

Ronnie Scott’s has been a London institution since 1959, starting predominantly as a jazz club; despite being such a small venue, it’s an incredibly intimate performance space and has become a favorite haunt of artists crossing all genres. In November 2007, Jeff Beck took up residence there for a week, and this excellent Blu-ray from Eagle Rock documents those shows. In the booklet that accompanies the disc and in the interview segments, Jeff Beck talks about the difficulty in getting his group’s sound – which was tailored for much larger venues – to work effectively in such an cozy environment, and I have to confess that it took me a couple of listens to arrive at a sound level that I felt was appropriate for the performance. Despite any concerns he might have had about sound considerations, he was also excited to showcase his touring band, which features Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Jason Rebello on keyboards, and, of course, 22-year-old sensation Tal Wilkenfeld on electric bass, who’s been the recipient of yards of press regarding her bass-playing abilities. Jeff Beck is obviously very taken with her playing, which displays a mastery of technique far beyond her years, and he gleefully gives it up to her frequently throughout the show. 

The song selection pretty much covers the gamut of Beck’s career, as well as a healthy dose of his early blues influences, and the entire disc offers essentially a clinic on good guitar playing. Whether you’re a big fan of Jeff Beck, or just a fan of great guitar playing, you’ll love every minute of this disc – and when the guest artists start popping out midway through the show, the already stellar performances get taken to another level entirely! Every song here was a highlight for me, but there were definite moments that stood out; Jeff’s classic solo that opens “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” from Blow By Blow is just remarkable, but then he gives way to Tal Wilkenfeld, who offers a flat-out amazing bass solo that echoed the likes of Jaco Pastorius – that was definitely a hit-the-rewind-again-and-again moment! And Jeff’s incredibly delicate slide work on “Angel” – once again, I had to hear it repeatedly – we’re talking absolute ear candy. And when Joss Stone steps on stage to offer “People Get Ready” that simply oozes soulfulness – how can it get much better? Jeff then plows through “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Brush With The Blues,” and when Eric Clapton steps on stage, he offers two of the most amazing performances I’ve ever witnessed from him, “Little Brown Bird” and a searing “You Need Love” that’ll easily make you forget all about Led Zeppelin’s version! And just when you think you’re in absolutely sonic heaven, Imogen Heap walks up and Beck and company offer a scorching “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” that left me shaking my head in sheer amazement. 

The disc also includes bonus footage from the week’s performances where Jeff steps out with The Big Town Playboys for a rockabilly session that absolutely smolders! He plays an assortment of vintage guitars throughout this tribute session that echoes the work he did with the group on the Crazy Legs album from a few years ago, and the performances here are every bit as entertaining as rest of this excellent disc – this is no mere throw-in! On numbers like “Crazy Legs,” “Baby Blue” and “Honky Tonk,” Beck and company achieve a groove so enjoyable, it was difficult to suppress the urge to get up and dance!

From a technical standpoint, this disc is darnn near flawless – the image quality is superb, with very film-like, but crisp and clear presentation, with really good contrast and a bright color palette. The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is also excellent, although I did fiddle about with the settings at first before I settled in and just enjoyed the show. And from an artistic standpoint, I couldn’t have been happier – while there are plenty of crowd and group shots, there’s also plenty of focus on the amazing fretwork going on here! Five stars – very highly recommended!  

TrackList: Beck’s Bolero, Eternity’s Breath, Stratus, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Behind The Veil, You Never Know, Nadia, Blast From the East, Led Boots, Angel, People Get Ready, Scatterbrain, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Brush With The Blues, Space Boogie, Blanket, A Day In The Life, Little Brown Bird, You Need Love, Rollin’ and Tumblin’, Where Were You?

— Tom Gibbs 



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