Posted on Apr 30th 2011 1:00PM by Melinda Newman From Spinner.com
There are more than 100 acts playing the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival over its two-weekend span, but only one certifiable rock god, as was clear the moment Jeff Beck took the Acura stage before a crowd of more than 20,000 on Friday afternoon (April 29).
The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — as both a member of the Yardbirds and solo — cherry-picked from his five-decade career during this 80-minute set, opening with a blazing version of 2003’s Grammy-winning ‘Plan B.’ Though he said barely a word to the enrapt audience throughout the show, Beck communicated beautifully, his precise, clean electric guitar sending notes soaring into the audience.
While he shone on such originals as ‘Hammerhead,’ for which he won a Grammy this past February, the well-chosen, tasty covers also resonated with the audience, including the Curtis Mayfield chestnut, ‘People Get Ready’ — a track long-associated with Beck — Gil Evans’ ‘Little Wing,’ and the Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life,’ which served as a tribute to Beck’s mentor George Martin, who produced two Beck albums in the ’70s.
He generously shared the spotlight with his band, especially Narada Michael Walden, whose propulsive drumming anchored every song, but none more so than on the aggressive ‘Hammerhead.’ Joined by bassist Rhonda Smith, best known for her work with Prince, the two built a wall of funk that came at the audience like a freight train on such songs as the blues classic ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin.” Beck has recorded the tune for a new blues album with his old bandmate Rod Stewart.
For the first encore — a jubilant version of Sly & the Family Stone’s ‘I Wanna Take You Higher’ — Smith handled vocal chores, but a surprise appearance by local hero, 25-year-old Trombone Shorty, who plays on Beck’s new live CD/DVD ‘Rock & Roll Party Honoring Les Paul,’ captivated the crowd, as did Beck’s air-trombone playing.
Beck ended the encore with a stirring ‘Nessun Dorma,’ which he included on his most recent studio album, ‘Emotion and Commotion.’ Beck delivered the tune from the Puccini’s opera ‘Turandot,’ as if it were a benediction, sending the crowd back out safely into the fest.
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