By Doug Draper
Posted August 8th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
I have never seen Eric Clapton, one of my all-time favourite guitar gods, in concern and probably never will because of the price of the tickets alone.
And I never saw Jimi Hendrix and know I never will unless he’s playing Purple Haze in Rock and Roll Heaven, and I’m not ready to buy a ticket to that one yet.
Carlos Santana, Steve Cropper and Buddy Guy have so far got past me too.
But this past Tuesday, August 7th, at Artpark in Lewiston, N.Y., I finally got to see Jeff Beck, ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top ten guitarists in the world and one I first fell in awe listening to rock radio stations back in the 1960s when he was cranking out top ten hits like Heart Full of Soul, Shapes of Things and Over Under Sideways Down by a super group called The Yardbirds.
As a wonderful bonus, the warm-up artist for Jeff Beck was Ann Wilson, the lead singer for Heart, one of the first-ever female led rock bands that rose to the top in the 1970s with hits like Crazy On You, Magic Man and Barricuda.
I first found out that Beck and Wilson would be doing this show when Artpark first released its line-up for Tuesdays in the Park concerts early this spring and said; “Wow”, but for reasons I won’t bore you with here, it was looking like I wasn’t going to go.
Then at the last minute, my Tuesday this August 7th was free, and I raced across the border to the Lewiston venue where, much to my pleasant surprise, tickets were still available and so was a spot to plant my lawn chair not that terribly far from the stage.
I’m not a big fan of and don’t see the point of drawing out reviews of shows that have already come and gone, unless something particularly unusual or newsworthy occurred, and I won’t do that here, except to say just a couple of quick things.
The powerful voice that made Ann Wilson a star still sounds – for all of her 68 years – has not lost any of its soulful strength and she proved that she can still belt out Barracuda the way millions of Heart fans heard it when it first became a hit in the summer of 1977.
Wilson also performed a handful of songs from an album being released this September she is calling ‘Immortal’, featuring songs by recently deceased pop stars like Tom Petty, Amy Winehouse and Glen Frey of Eagles fame.
Her performances of Frey’s Life in the Fast Lane, Winehouse’s Black to Black, and, believe it or not, ’s great Lesley Gore’s 1964, edgy for its time, ‘Me Too’-like anthem, ‘You Don’t Own Me,’ has this person and, I’m sure, many others in the audience Tuesday night, saving up for a copy of the album already.
As for Jeff Beck on that Fender guitar, what can I say? The sounds coming out of that guitar were magical and mysterious and he rang them out there so effortlessly.
I still have his blues-tinged, instrumental version of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s finale, ‘A Day in the Life’, playing in my mind where I have not stopped savouring every note. If you want to hear it, it’s on his recently released ‘Live at the Hollywood Bowl’, a celebration of his 50 years of stardom.
Jeff Beck stretched out encores with masterful, spine tingling solo work, before finally holding his guitar up and say; ‘Bless you. … Thanks for sticking with me.’
No problem Jeff. Finally, some 50 years after being blown away with the riffs you were laying down on those Yardbird records, I got to hear and see you do it in person.
Randy Bachman, a very good lead guitarist himself of Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive fame who now has a Saturday night CBC radio program called ‘Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap’, has fairly often said on that show that if you have a rock hero from the last 30 or 40 or more years who is still out there touring, and you get a chance to see them, do it.
Do it because, despite the name of Ann Wilson’s upcoming album, none of these people from the golden eras of the 60s and 70s, and few are left from the 50s, are immortal. In recent years, too many , including giants like Tom Petty, David Bowie, Joe Cocker and Chuck Berry, have joined Jimi Hendrix in Rock and Roll Heaven, and some, including Paul Simon, Elton John and Joan Baez are now doing their “Farewell” tours.
As another great who recently left us, Leonard Cohen, often sang; “It’s closing time.”
Randy Bachman is right. If you are a fan, go see these great old rockers while you can. I’m sure glad I chose to do it this past Tuesday night.
To hear and watch Jeff Beck play ‘A Day in the Life’ at another concert, click on –
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