by Best Classic Bands Staff
Jeff Beck was honored on Monday (May 22, 2023) by several of his peers and musical acolytes during the first of two tribute concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The pair of shows were announced March 10 by his wife, Sandra Beck, and Eric Clapton, to honor the memory and artistry of the pioneering rock guitarist. died on January 10 at 78 after a sudden illness. The first of two shows featured significant power in its all-star lineup with Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Billy Gibbons and Johnny Depp – who toured with Beck in 2022 on the legend’s final tour – among the many artists joining Clapton . Tickets for the shows sold out quickly.
The first thing the audience saw was Beck’s guitar on a pedestal on stage, under a spotlight. While other touches were much more subtle – Depp, for example, wore a Beck bracelet on his left arm – others were there to see it all: Clapton and Stewart hugged as they performed ‘People Get Ready’ towards the end of the moving evening.
The career-spanning gig featured a wide assortment of songs associated with the guitar legend. Early on, there were a pair of Yardbirds hits, “Shapes of Things” (with Clapton’s lead vocals) and “Heart Full of Soul.” Clapton then welcomed Derek Trucks, and shortly after, Susan Tedeschi on stage.
Show Clapton with Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks
Show Ronnie Wood, with Clapton and Derek Trucks performing “Beck’s Bolero”, which dates back to 1966
Other career-spanning repertoires included “Freeway Jam”, so closely associated with beck1977 live album with the Jan Hammer Group. Beck was a frequent touring partner of ZZ Top. That evening, Billy Gibbons of the band performed “Rough Boy”, which they had performed together several times.
Irish singer Imelda May joined the lineup, which now included Johnny Depp, to sing “Remember (Walking in the Sand)”, a song popularized by the Shangri-Las in 1964. She and Beck had performed it on several occasions.
John McLaughlin, 81, who led the jazz fusion group Mahavishnu Orchestra, performed his “You Know You Know” from the band’s 1971 debut.
When Beck passed away, his peers shared their grief, with many describing him as their “hero” and “inspiration”. “You were the greatest, my man,” Stewart wrote, when Beck passed away. During Rod’s set at the May 22 tribute concert, he said, “I never thought I’d be here to give a tribute concert to my dear old pal, Jeff Beck.” He kicked off his mini-set with “Infatuation,” his 1984 hit that featured Beck on guitar. Here he was joined by Clapton and Wood, with Slowhand taking on Beck’s solo.
After introducing Gary Clark Jr., Stewart joked, “I’ve never seen so many guitars in my life! He then introduced “the greatest civil rights song ever written”, as the band began the unmissable introduction to “People Get Ready”, the 1965 song by The Impressions which Beck and Stewart recorded in 1985. During the solo of Clark Jr., Clapton and Stewart hugged, earning more applause from the crowd.
Clapton then sang “Going Down”, recorded by the Jeff Beck Group in 1972, as the evening’s finale.
Related: Our 2016 Review of Jeff Beck Live at the Hollywood Bowl
Other performers included Doyle Bramhall, Robert Randolph, Olivia Safe, Joss Stone and of the Jeff Beck Band, Rhonda Smith, Anika Nilles and Robert Stevenson. Surplus revenue from the concerts will be donated to the Folly Wildlife Rescue based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
Thanks to Matt Lee and Albrecht Peltzer for the videos.
“One of my brothers has left this world and I will miss him very much,” Wood said of Beck’s passing.
Related: Links to hundreds of current classic rock tours