On Monday I was doing some work in Melbourne and took advantage of the location to see Jeff Beck at the old Palais Theatre in St Kilda on Monday night. I love the Palais and have seen some great things there. This was the first time I had seen Jeff Beck live and only the second time he has been to Australia. He is a masterful player of the instrument that has defined our generation of music. He played a white (could be cream) stratocaster through what looked liked a 50w single stack Marshall and another Fender blackface twin amp (I wasn’t close enough to see which type). He use an octave divider and some overdrive (pedals were obscured behind foldback) but not much else.
The volume was very loud – like it was in the “old days” – when electric guitarists could have fun with the overtones (unlike now). While I didn’t like all the music played it was played beautifully – relaxed intensity all night. I prefer his lyrical playing to the harder rocking numbers. My favourite was Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers which always is good.
His band was pretty hot – especially the drummer. The bass player (a young Australian woman) was excellent but the mix was shocking – too much bottom end and vibration. So when she was soloing there was not enough clarity in the individual notes. But Jeff Beck just plays that stratocaster so well – his use of the volume control in conjunction with the tremelo was fantastic. He plays with his fingers (no pick) and gets maximum benefit from this technique because his volume is so high. It is much harder to play like this at low volumes – and still get the full dynamics of your technique.
Overall, a good night although as I said some of the music was too much on the rock side for my taste. He played one “sort of” blues which was beautiful.