Jeff Beck – A Day In The Live (Scarecrow 070/071)

A Day In The Live (Scarecrow 070/071)

Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – March 24th, 1999

Disc 1 (43:14) : What Mama Said, Psycho Sam, Brush With The Blues, Star Cycle, Savoy, Blast From The East, A Day In The Life, Declan, THX 138

Disc 2 (52:51): The Pump, Led Boots, ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Space For The Papa, Angel (Footsteps), Even Odds, You Never Know, Blue Wind, Where Were You, Big Block

Around the time Jeff Beck’s new album Who Else! was released on March 16th, 1999 was the beginning of more promotional dates and touring.  The night before he played the relatively intimate 9:30 Club in Washington DC and made an appearance on “The David Letterman Show” on NBC on March 22nd playing “What Mama Said.”

On March 24th he traveled to Toronto, home of some of his most rapid fans and a city where he loves to play.  The relatively intimate Massey Hall hosted the show.  A Day In The Live is the only silver pressed title featuring this show.  Scarecrow use a good but somewhat distant and slightly distorted audience tape of the entire concert performance.

The Toronto Star reviewed the performance in an article titled “Guitar Great Beck Powers On” by pop music critic Betsy Powell.  She wrote:   

“In this era of studio-ized electronica, boy bands and videogenic singers, it’s rare to find a six-string, cream-colored electric guitar monopolizing the spotlight at a rock ‘n’ roll show. But put it in the hands of guitar legend Jeff Beck and it’s a solid reminder why the guitar has been ‘youth culture’s weapon of choice during the last 50 years,’ as Rolling Stone said recently in an issue devoted to Guitar Gods.

“It’s been ages since Beck headlined his own show here so the sell-out guy-fest of 2,700 at Massey Hall was stoked. In fact, if the NATO forces had missed their overseas targets and nailed the storied building at Shuter and Victoria a large chunk of the city’s musical community might have disappeared. Beck didn’t disappoint.

“Lean and energetic, the 54-year-old British axeman confirmed his consummate musicianship with dazzling, heart-racing licks and blistering runs that most guitarists only dream of during the explosive two-hour instrumental performance. Backed by his new band, Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson’s former guitarist), bassist Randy Hope and drummer Steve Alexander, Beck focused much of the show on songs from Who Else!, his first album of original material in 10 years.

“The cuts included the moody, Celtic-flavored ‘Declan’ and concert-opener ‘What Mama Said,’ updated with rave-club rhythms and computer voices. But none of the newfangled effects detracted from Beck’s precise and passionate playing, particularly on crowd-pleasing covers of the Beatles’ ‘A Day In The Life’ and Stevie Wonder’s ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,’ from 1975’s classic Blow By Blow.

“At one point Beck, a man of few words, grabbed the microphone as if to say something to the crowd. Instead, he pushed it back wordlessly and laughed. His whammy-bar crescendos, sweetly plucked notes and molten-riffing said all that was needed to be said.”

New music starts off the show with “What Mama Said” and “Psycho Sam.”  With Beck’s emotional expressionism added to the techno beats, it sounds fresh and inventive and the audience give him a tremendous ovation. During the quieter numbers, the audience are very loud and boisterous.  Whistles and hooting are audible throughout “Brush With The Blues.”

Two older songs follow.  “Star Cycle,” even twenty years after its composition and introduction to the stage sounds bizarre and prognosticative“Savoy,” released ten years after “Star Cycle” and ten before Who Else!, sound much more brutal by contrast.  The rhythm section sounds like a hurricane beating the heads of the audience.  

The exotic “Blast From The East” is followed by The Beatles cover “A Day In The Life.” 

A block of older numbers are played in the middle of the set.  “The Pump,” is followed by “Led Boots” which contains a drum solo as a segway into “‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.”

The two long pieces “Space For The Papa” and “Angel (Footsteps)” feature Beck and Battan at their most versatile and emotional through the long show.   The latter especially is among Beck’s most sublime creations and is still featured in his live set.

The familiar “Blue Wind” closes the set.  For the encore they play two songs from Guitar Shop, “Where Where You” and “Big Block.”  In some of the shows Beck plays a second encore “Sling Shot,” but is either dropped for Toronto or wasn’t recorded. 

The cover artwork follows the Who Else! black and white motif and the inner sleeves are decorated with various candid shots of the guitarist.  There are many very good recordings from this era pressed and in circulation.  A Day In The Live isn’t the best recording from the tour, but is a good document for those who attended the show. 

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