Touted as "Celebrating 50 Years of Jeff Beck", this DVD release (also available as a BD and DVD/2CD set) features a special show from last summer, where the guitar legend appeared at the equally legendary US amphitheater, performing music from the past half a century. Classic tracks from The Yardbirds feature in the setlist, along with a small number of covers and songs from his long and successful solo career, including 2016's 'Loud Hailer' album. In fact, vocalist Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg, both from said album, feature in Beck's band for this performance, along with bassist Rhonda Smith and sticksman Jonathan Joseph.
Then there are there are half a dozen musically esteemed guests who crop up during the show - Wet Willie's Jimmy Hall; ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons; keyboard maestro Jan Hammer (renowned by some for his work in John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, but perhaps better known for his 'Miami Vice' music); singer/songwriter Beth Hart; Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler; and one of the most influential blues guitarists ever, Buddy Guy. It's Hammer and Hall who get the most stage time during the show, with Guy and Gibbons only performing on one track each, although each musician makes their mark, fleeting or otherwise. And the climactic cover of Prince's 'Purple Rain', included as a tribute to the enigmatic musician, who passed away just four months previously, features Hammer, Hart, Hall and Tyler... surely a once in lifetime assemblage.
Right at the start of the performance, the sight of Rosie Bones in a boiler suit, singing through some sort of megaphone contraption on a circular platform, is a spectacle to behold, and kind of raises expectations for a show that could potentially be tad eccentric. Not so. A musical masterclass in combining virtuosity with emotional expression? Most definitely. Throughout the 90+ minutes, instrumental interplay between all the musicians - Beck, band and guests - is, at times, rather phenomenal (Beck and Hammer seem to be revelling in exercising their combined musical mastery alongside each other). And Beck's playing proves just why he incessantly makes it onto "greatest guitarists of all time" lists.
Buddy Guy's fleeting appearance is a definite highlight. 80 years old at the time of the show (but looks nowhere near that age), he astounds with how effortlessly he's able to express himself through his licks and leads. A true legend. I'm sure there aren't that many 80 year olds who still have a virtuosic hold over their instrument like his. And his voice... absolutely fucking incredible. This is precisely why the man's regarded by many as THE greatest blues musician of all time.
Interestingly, through the lighting, colours, staging and musicians' stage attire, combined with the general vibe of the performance and large number of old tunes aired, the whole thing bizarrely has the vibe of a live show from the 70s. It all feels rather anachronistic, but in the most refreshingly retro of ways. Very nicely filmed indeed, all the action's been captured perfectly, and with enough fretboard close-ups to please guitar aficionados out there. In terms of image quality, clarity and sharpness for what is, effectively just an SD presentation of the show on a DVD is rather impressive... no doubt the BD will look even more pristine and sparkling.
There are zero bonus features on the disc... not a morsel. There are, however, three audio options to cater for different sound systems, as is common for most Eagle releases. And there's a generous-sized, glossy booklet, loaded with photos and a written piece on the show by Alan Light. All in all, a nice little barebones package, a great show, incredibly well filmed, and fantastic sounding audio. Well worth checking out.
LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
Review by Mark Holmes
6th October 2017
1) The Revolution Will Be Televised; 2) Over Under Sideways Down; 3) Heart Full of Soul; 4) For Your Love; 5) Beck's Bolero; 6) Rice Pudding; 7) Morning Dew; 8) Freeway Jam; 9) You Never Know; 10) 'Cause We've Ended As Lovers; 11) Star Cycle; 12) Blue Wind; 13) Big Block; 14) I'd Rather Go Blind; 15) Let Me Love You; 16) Live in the Dark; 17) Scared for the Children; 18) Rough Boy; 19) Train Kept a-Rollin'; 20) Shapes of Things; 21) A Day in the Life; 22) Purple Rain
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Throughout the 90+ minutes, instrumental interplay between all the musicians - Beck, band and guests - is, at times, rather phenomenal..."