Playing live is “the real thing”, according to Jeff Beck, which explains why most of his recent releases come from stages rather than studios. Live + is drawn from last year’s world tour and is notable for having a second guitarist rather than a keyboard player.
Playing second fiddle to Beck would daunt most guitarists but Nicolas Meier carries his confidence with ease, always ready to spar when called on and adept at setting up his boss for flights of fancy, as on Little Wing. Singer Jimmy Hall, who appeared on 1986’s Flash album, makes the most of his intermittent appearances and leaves his own mark on Morning Dew.
Meanwhile bassist Rhonda Smith has been around long enough to take risks, which she does with some fabulous funky outbursts on the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s You Know You Know, and recently recruited drummer Jonathan Joseph generally opts for accuracy rather than power.
All of which leaves Beck free to explore the limits of his guitar, following in the jazz tradition of reinventing pop standards (A Day In The Life, Danny Boy), getting down and dirty (Superstition, Rollin’ And Tumblin’) or showing off on his ever-expanding catalogue of instrumentals./o:p