Before the musical portion of Jeff Beck’s latest DVD, Live in Tokyo, begins he introduces the members of his band and what they bring to his music. With a constantly fluid lineup of musicians who have accompanied him over the past 36 years it’s an illuminating and necessary comment.
Drummer Jonathan Joseph adds the precision and power of Billy Cobham, guitarist Nocolas Meier brings a multi-purpose style that includes using MIDI for keyboard parts and bassist Rhonda Smith brings a heavy funk bottom to much of the material. Their contributions are quickly encountered on the night’s opening number, “Loaded.” It is one of three songs that were included in a Japan-only EP that came out prior to the tour. “Danny Boy” and “Why Give It Away” were also on the release and performed during this show at the Tokyo Dome City Hall.
Their playing enables Beck to encounter his material in new ways. Classic tracks such as “Blue Wind,” “The Pump,” “Led Boots,” “Cause We Ended As Lovers” and “Big Block” are still familiar but there are changes and new, thrilling flourishes that demonstrate that the guitarist continues to move forward.
A brand new song, “Yemin,” gives an indication of the Middle Eastern influence that may show up on Beck’s next album. It was demoed but nothing’s certain until it actually comes out.
The directing style is refreshingly slow-paced, and minus the quick edits that are normally used as a cheap method to mimic the energy of an actual concert. Other than missing Beck give an audience member his slide after “Angel (Footsteps),” the shot selections are spot on and give a sense of intimacy in such a large setting. That’s an especially good thing because part of the fun and fascination of watching Beck play is discovering how he gets such amazing sounds from his guitar.
Set in a letterbox format, enjoy “Live in Tokyo” on a big screen, but, more importantly, play it LOUD!