Still whip-thin and with a shock of hair that hasn’t altered since he stepped off stage with The Yardbirds in 1965, Jeff Beck’s 2014 tour saw the man in furious form. At times it might have seemed that he wasn’t even aware of his audience – barely a word of acknowledgement to the thousands seated in the darkness – but little matter; Beck’s music casts a spell, and he really does let it do the talking.
Captured in the US in August last year, Live+ reflects the urgency and dynamism of the Jeff Beck band. To say their playing was superlative would be to understate it somewhat, a bit like overhearing someone describing the northern lights as spangly. Case in point, bassist Rhonda Smith – who used to play with Prince – with a talent both sublime and ridiculous, her playing bringing Superstition and the thundering Big Block into exhilarating life. Beck is no slouch either, but it’s the unified front his band brings that is most enthralling. Jonathan Joseph hits his drums like he simply doesn’t like them, but then has the lightness of touch to bring a song like Morning Dew into stark relief, rolling the song along.
As for the album’s ‘+’ component, of the two new studio tracks Tribal sounds like the – very inventive – studio jam it is, blistering, but not quite finished, while the woozy My Tiled White Floor is loaded with promise and always looking ahead.