Let me begin this by saying up front that this is most decidedly NOT a concert review. At the end of the day, I just don't feel right about sitting in judgement around two gentlemen of Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck's stature. So let's just have some fun.............
First of all, if Clapton Is GOD as the old spray painted signs that cropped up in England circa 1966 or so are still correct, what does that make Jeff beck? I think that maybe we're talking GODS in the sense of Greek Gods and Clapton is the god of thunder and Beck the god of lightning? You pick your own gods and let's just say that this is the old argument our dads would have in the bar on a weekend night discussing who was better, Mantle or Mays. At the end of the day, they're both hall of famers which ever museum we're talking about. right? right.
Second, I had a very weird sense of sadness about seeing Jeff Beck on Friday night. I know that sounds very strange and it had nothing to do with his playing. To be sure, his playing was on a level that didn't seem humanly possible. That particular way his right thumb tickles and hammers while his pinky on his right hand is simultaneously agitating his whammy bar and his left fingers are bending on his fret board is so out of control it's beyond comprehension. I was sad thinking about all the time he just didn't want to share his playing with us. No recording, no touring, just silence. I thought of that and it almost made me sick really. His choice of course but all those gigs.....Let me just say that if some time has gone by in between visits, which is very possible given his predilection to stay at home and practice and mess with his cars, or you've never seen him AT ALL, do it! Do it NOW! Beck will be back on his own with his very tight band in the spring and make a plan to see him. It would be a shame for you to miss him and have him decide he's going back to his car garage. BTW....for a guy who's OLDER than Clapton, he's still very energetic and passionate on stage. He's close to 70 and you would never know it!
A word on song selection: The following comments are coloured by my post concert chat with our own Ian O'Malley so keep that in mind. Here's the problem for me with the inclusion of a song like Moon River in the set with Clapton and Beck: I've waited a LIFETIME to see these guys in this context and Moon River isn't my dream song to be included on the set. Jeff Beck himself stated prior to the show that he and Eric DID have some problems trying to arrive at a mutually satisfying song selections. Mind you I'm not complaining at a ballad per say, I mean a huge part of Beck's history is shredding it on tunes like "Because We've Ended As Lovers". I just couldn't deal with the flashbacks of sitting around the table as a kid and my dad putting that Andy Williams record on......you just wanted to die. It doesn't help that Chevy Chase pops into your head either from Fletch getting the old prostate tickled by M Emmit Walsh. Egad. You know, this has a lot to do with dragging all these expectations into MSG and at the end of the day they have a half an hour together? Hard to make it work.
At the end of the day I sort of feel like I'm nit picking here a bit and I apologize for that. I wasn't as disappointed with Clapton as Ian clearly was. He was bored in places and I wouldn't go anywhere near that. I DO think that if you asked me to pick one of the other as a "winner" from the night it would be Jeff Beck. I am open to the idea though that the old adage familiarity breeds contempt might apply here. We haven't lacked for opportunities to see Eric on stage at MSG lately but Jeff Beck has conspicuous for his absence for protracted periods of time.
Before this sounds like me ripping this concert PLEASE don't think that at all! There were many highlights for me right on through the show! That Jeff Beck would pick out Women of Ireland to riff on in his set was a miracle for me! I've loved that since Stanley Kubrick incorporated as a running theme in Barry Lyndon. Eric did Running On Faith which always makes me happy whenever he does it. And trust, seeing the two of them on the night closer, Crossroads, was a dream come true!
So the Clapton "Clean Up All Family Business" tours roll on! Cream, Winwood and Blind Faith, J J Cale, Jeff Beck..........Makes me want to fly to Chicago for sure to see the Crossroads Guitar Summit in a very big way! Just please God, don't have Joe Bonamassa play Moon River with Eric! gm