Jeff Beck Gave a Master Class in Guitar Playing at Celebrity Theatre

Jeff Beck and Band at Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona

Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: Celebrity Theatre
Date: Tuesday September 24th, 2019

Jeff Beck at Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona

Jeff Beck did a 5-date tour of mostly the south and southwest following his appearance at the Crossroads Festival and prior to his appearance at the Hollywood Bowl for a reunion concert with Rod Stewart.  We in Phoenix were lucky enough to see one of these outstanding performances.  Jeff Beck was accompanied by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassist Rhonda Smith, vocalist Jimmy Hall and cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith.  Toward the end of the show, Jeff was joined on stage by Johnny Depp.  Johnny played both guitar and sang on a couple of the songs.  Unfortunately, we were only allowed to photograph the first 3 songs so we were not able to get photos of Johnny Depp or Jimmy Hall since they showed up later.

The show started with Jeff, Vinnie, Rhonda and Vanessa performing “Space For The Papa”.  As with most of Jeff’s songs, there are usually no vocals, just outstanding instrumentals.  During “You Know You Know”, Rhonda came out to the front of the stage to regale us with a masterful bass lick.  Since Jeff has performed with a large number of great artists over the years, a lot of his setlist were covers of some of those artists.  The stage was setup very simple with Vinnie’s drum kit in the middle back, with Rhonda to his right and Venessa on a chair to his left.  This allowed Jeff to roam around on the stage laying down his hot licks.  It was truly amazing to see Jeff play “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers”, that most guitarist could only hope to master.

As they started to play “Rumble”, they were joined on stage by Johnny Depp.  Johnny then remained for the rest of the set and encore.  At times Jeff and Johnny would jam together in the middle of the stage.  Another highlight was when they played “Superstition” as Jimmy Hall belted out the lyrics and roaming around the stage playing tambourine.

Jeff Beck and Band at Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona

In some ways it was a flash back to the 70s as Jeff was in a white jump suite with military boots.  Jeff also wore his aviator sunglasses throughout the show.  Johnny was dress in his usual blue jeans, vest, multiple necklaces and cloth strips hanging from his belt and guitar strap (a lot like Steven Tyler).

This was the first time I was at a concert at the Celebrity Theatre with their new sound system that I had to put in ear plugs.  Jeff was definitely pushing the system to it full potential and when Johnny joined in, it was definitely pushed.  Even with it being louder then normal, it was still perfectly clear and I was able to understand the singer.

If you missed the show, then you truly missed one of the great guitar players from the 60s.  It is understandable that Jeff is asked to perform with some of the great guitarists at the Crossroads Guitar Festival with Eric Clapton.  If you want to see bootleg videos of the show, just put in “Jeff Beck Phoenix” as the search on YouTube.  You can see just how clear the sound was and Jeff’s exceptional performance.

Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2019, All Rights Reserved

Jeff Beck Setlist:                             (Album / Cover)
Space For The Papa                         (Who Else!)
Stratus/Just For Fun                        (Official Bootleg USA ’06)
You Know You Know                       (Live +)
Nadia                                                    (You Had It Coming)
Mina                                                      ()
You Never Know                              (There and Back)
Caroline No                                        (Brian Wilson cover)
Lonnie on the Move                        (Lonnie Mack cover)
Big Block                                              (Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop)
Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers       (Blow by Blow)
Rumble                                                (Link Wray cover)
Isolation                                               (John Lennon cover)
Heddy Lamar                                     
Brush With The Blues                     (Who Else!)
Little Wing                                          (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
Superstition                                       (Stevie Wonder cover)
A Day In The Life                               (The Beatles cover)
Hey Mr. Millionaire                          (ZZ Top cover)

Dan Reed

Dan Reed performs as leadup for Jeff Beck at Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, AZ

First up for the night was the acoustic guitar artist, Dan Reed.  Dan lives in Prague and flew in just for this concert.  Not only did he have the long flight, but we had a storm the night he arrived and the plane was diverted to another airport.  The passengers had to stay in the plane for 4 hours until they could fly into Sky Harbor (Phoenix’s airport) so they could clear immigration and customs.  However, you would never have known this from his performance.  He showed no signs of time zone fatigue.

Dan did a number of songs including one dedicated to his friends, Danny and Leslie Zelisko.  He played a short version of one of his favorite artist, James Tayler’s “Fire and Ice”.  Dan is not only a musician but also a story teller.  He told us that in 2005 he lost interest in music and just started to travel the world.  While he was in Tibet, he met a couple of monks and had multiple lunches with them.  Eventually he was invited to the monastery.  While there, the monks asked him if he know a song that went “boom boom, clap”.  He laughed and asked where they had heard it since they had no electricity and they said they heard it from a visitor.  So be bought a cheap guitar and thought them Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.  This time with the monks brought him back to music.  To honor the monks, he wrote the song “I Am On Your Side”.  Dan ended the set with “Brave New World” which he wrote because it was his favorite book growing up.

I got to met Dan after the show and he was just as nice in person as he was on stage.  Unfortunately, Dan lives in Europe and does most of his shows there.  So, if you are in Europe and get a chance to see Dan perform it will definitely be worth it.  My next time over there I will definitely look to see if he is performing anywhere, I visit.

Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2019, All Rights Reserved


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