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Jeff Beck
-Center for the Arts-SUNY @ Buffalo-
Amherst, NY - April 22nd, 2011

Concert Review - By Bob Silvestri

     If you read any of the current reviews of Jeff Beck on tour the reviewer always seems to mention that it has been X number of years since he played that town. We are no exception to that either. From the un-scientific research I conducted, an extensive internet search and long conversations with a few Beck Heads in the area, the last time I could conjure up was an opening slot for the Beach Boys at Memorial Auditorium in September 1976. That's right, the Beach Boys and 1976. But it is not the last time that Jeff Beck played here but in the here and now and the fact that he has been touring regularly of late. So when tickets went on sale a few months ago for the April 22nd 2011 show at UB's Center for the Arts it was an instant sell out. As we approached the venue we found many folks outside begging "who's got one ticket?" without much luck. Inside the anticipation was that of a Sabres playoff game and t-shirts, posters and other merchandise was moving at a brisk pace. Long considered one of the best electric guitarists of all time along with friends and former Yardbirds, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, Beck did not disappoint. While he may have chosen the less commercial road of his two peers he has maintained an astonishing career in the studio and on stage.
     He hit the stage in a tuxedo and black motorcycle boots with his pants tucked in his boots and tore thru "Plan B' from his 2003 album Jeff. "Led Boots" and "Blue Wind" both from the 1976 LP Wired were greeted warmly by the crowd as Beck displayed his proficiency with runs up and down the fret board. This is where Beck differs from the normal guitar wankers. He never comes across as flashy or a showboat always steady but brilliant in his playing. His selection of cover tunes was brilliant as well. Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready", Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" and "Somewhere over the Rainbow" from the Wizard of Oz and written by Buffalo's own Harold Arlen were outstanding. The two best moments of the evening were Beck's instrumental take of the Beatles "A Day in the Life" where he masterly played all parts of the song including the orchestrations and the final piano coda on the guitar and Les Paul and Mary Ford's classic "How High the Moon" which featured a vocal recording of the late stars as Beck played a sunburst Gibson Les Paul guitar. He closed the show with a bravura performance of the Puccini aria "Nessun Dorma". Bellissimo!
     Opening the show was an upcoming hot shot young guitarist by the name of Tyler Bryant. His brief thirty minute set featured a mix of stunning acoustic blues and slide guitar numbers. Normally fronted by a full band he promised to return to the area this summer for a show with his band. You will want to check this kid out when he returns. Kudos to the staff of the Center for the Arts for bringing another amazing show to our area. For more shows at the Center for the Arts go to www.ubcfa.org


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