Gives A Fan His Axe (Tarantura TCDJB-5-1, 2)
NHK Hall, Tokyo, Japan – February 9th, 2009
Disc 1 (46:39): Opening, Beck’s Bolero, The Pump, Eternity’s Breath, You Never Know, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Behind The Veil, Blast From The Past, Stratus, Angel (Footsteps), Jam, Led Boots
Disc 2 (43:31): Nadia, Space Boogie, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Brush With The Blues, Blue Wind, A Day In The Life, Band Introduction, Where Were You, Big Block, Scottish One, Peter Gunn Theme, gives a fan his axe
Gives A Fan His Axe contains Jeff Beck’s complete February 9th, 2009 show at International Hall in Tokyo. Tarantura uses a matrix tape made from Beck’s in-ear monitor (IEM) system and an excellent audience recording to give the show a nice live feel and has been in circulation for several months. The resultant work is excellent. It beautifully conveys the intensity of the performance and having each instrument so clearly defined in the mix adds a richness that is sometimes missed in other types of recordings.
It is a good document in showing how well Beck jells with his current touring band of Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, David Sancious on keyboards and especially Tal Wilkenfeld on bass. It is also obvious he has lost nothing over the years since the interpretations of these classics are as valid today as they were thirty years ago. The opening is a short soundcheck before the band begin with “Beck’s Bolero,” the b-side of his very first single “Hi Hi Silver Lining” as a solo artist released in 1966. It serves as a prelude to the evening.
It is apparently listening to this recording that Beck has become much more eclectic over the years. Not content with just one style, he shifts between different ones, even in the same song. “The Pump,” one of his most well known instrumentals is given a heavy rock treatment on this tour. It is followed by “Eternity’s Breath” which serves as both an introduction and a contrast to “You Never Know,” jazz in juxtaposition to a heavy funk beat.
Tal Wilkenfeld plays a tasty bass in “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” expanding the dimensions of the old live piece (included in Becks live set for almost forty years). The slow, introspective piece is followed by the faux-reggae of “Behind The Veil.” Keyboardist Sancious takes “Space Boogie” closer to jazz than the original piece which flirted with new wave boogie.
“A Day In The Life” is a highlight of the set. He, Paul McCartney and Neil Young are all currently playing this song live but Beck’s is the only one which is instrumental. The pretty “Where You There” follows. A song influenced by Bulgarian melodies, Beck described it before as “just a let-the-guitar-sing type of thing.” It is interesting how it precedes “Big Block,” perhaps the “heaviest” song which is as close as Beck gets to arena-rock-heavy-metal. The evening ends with the fun cover of Henry Mancini’s “The Peter Gunn Theme.” At the end Beck gives a fan his guitar and says, “a gift is a gift” and which gives this title the name.
Gives A Fan His Axe is packaged in a cardboard gatefold sleeve with many photographs from the Japan shows in February except for Walkenfeld. Tarantura use a curious portrait of the bassist where she looks like a figure from a Raphael painting in the height of Florentine renaissance sheen. The label’s mastering of the tape is excellent as well. This release has near perfect sound quality and given the sterling performance makes it worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)