Jeff Beck Sage Gateshead 2 June 2022

jeff tixJeff Beck is a big hero of mine. I have given a lot of thought to this and I am convinced that he is probably the best living guitarist, alongside Hank Marvin. Jeff Beck can produce sounds out of his Fender Stratocaster like no one else. His use of tone, vibrato and moving up and down the fretboard involves incredible technique that he makes looks so simple. He makes a lot of use of his little finger turning the volume control up-and-down to create fade, alongside intricate use of the tremolo arm to produce almost symphonic sounds. And yes I can hear the influences of The Shadows and Hank Marvin throughout. At the same time Jeff Beck can rock out, suddenly producing loud and fuzzy chord sequences. His introductions to certain tunes use harmonics and play around with the melody until it, almost secretly, emerges into the song as it was originally intended to be heard. So I take any opportunity to see Jeff Beck in concert.

beck5We have waited a couple of years for this concert to take place, because of Covid. But, as always, Jeff didn’t let us down and delivered a performance to be remembered for the music and for other reasons of which I will write shortly.

Jeff started the set with his usual eclectic choice of instrumentals, each of which was different yet great in its own right. Some I recognised; some were unfamiliar to me. Then, after half a dozen songs, the surprise we were all expecting actually happened.

Now famous Hollywood idol Johnny Depp had flown over from America after his recent court case to join the Jeff Beck tour. I was not aware of it, but Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp have been collaborating for a few years now. Johnny Depp had already appeared at several shows on the tour and we were all waiting to see if he would grace the stage of the Sage. When he was spotted drinking on Newcastle Quayside with Jeff Beck and local hero Sam Fender it became obvious that he would be joining beck4the Gateshead concert. Immediately, any remaining tickets were sold. Such is the legend that is Johnny Depp. People were queueing outside the Sage for many hours to catch a glimpse of Johnny Depp, or even an autograph (and some fans were lucky enough to score a signature). My carer Lisa was really excited at the prospect of seeing Johnny Depp. Now my view is that Johnny Depp is a secret closet rockstar wannabe. All of this is to his credit, by the way, in my opinion. He is a massive fan of Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones and sings and plays in a band called The Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper. But I was unaware of the Jeff Beck connection.

beck2Johnny Depp came on stage to a massive cheer from the crowd. The pair then proceeded to deliver a short set of songs with Johnny Depp on vocals and guitar and Jeff Beck providing his own inimitable accompaniment. Now people have different views on Johnny Depp as a musician. He is not the greatest singer on the planet nor is he a wonderful guitarist but he puts his all into the performance and, for me, his vocals are quite emotional. They started with a song called “Hedy Lamar”, which I am not familiar with, followed by “Isolation”, a John Lennon song which again I don’t know. Then came a wonderful version of the Everly Brothers ballad “Let It Be Me” which I found quite emotional. Exquisite. Then another great song and a great rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going on “, followed by Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and a song by Killing Joke which was again unfamiliar to me. Johnny Depp left the stage: as he did, the two friends hugged each other. Jeff explained at one point “I met this guy five years ago when he came to my dressing room and said “Hello” and we have never stopped laughing since!” He also explained that they have been working on an album which will be released next month. Jeff Beck concluded the concert with two more instrumentals, ending with “Corpus Christi Carol”. Fantastic.

beck6People have mixed views on this collaboration and on Johnny Depp’s appearance with Jeff Beck. Some fans appeared on local television questioning why Jeff Beck would “spoil” his concert by collaborating with someone who cannot sing too well (their view, not mine). Others were simply knocked out by having the opportunity to be in the presence of a major Hollywood star. Now this is my view: Jeff Beck is no fool. He does not need Johnny Depp to sell tickets. He does have his own legend to protect. But he simply likes the guy and enjoys the collaboration and it can’t do his reputation any harm. Indeed it will introduce many new fans to his music. So this is a win-win collaboration. I was certainly glad, and excited, to witness it.

beck badA wonderful concert, and a wonderful evening. Thank you Jeff and Johnny.

Thanks to Lisa for the photographs and to David, my son, for helping me into bed and looking after me for the evening.

Setlist (something like this): Star Cycle; You Know You Know (Mahavishnu Orchestra song); Stratus; Nadia; Rumble (the wonderful Link Wray instrumental); Mná na hÉireann; Big Block; Brush With the Blues; (Johnny Depp comes on stage to a great cheer); Heddy Lamar; Isolation (John Lennon song); Let It Be Me (the wonderful Everly Brothers ballad); What’s Going On (lovely Marvin Gaye song); Little Wing (the great Jimi Hendrix song); The Death and Resurrection Show (Killing Joke tune); (Johnny Depp leaves the stage) Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers; Corpus Christi Carol.

Encore: (with Johnny Depp) A Day in the Life (instrumental version of The Beatles song)


18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Badfinger (Max) on June 7, 2022 at 2:56 pm

    From what I read…Depp came to Hollywood with his band in the early 80s but he got sidetracked into acting… great review


  2. Posted by Dave henderson on June 7, 2022 at 11:05 pm

    Well, well, what a small world. I was sat next to you in block 3 but didn’t realise who you were – we could have had a chat. We have exchanged comments in this blog over the years as our concerts have often co-incided. Mind you – I was in shock after Johnny depp took the stage and Jeff beck was relegated to backing band status. I’d waited 2 years for this, first 40 minutes were great but then I just sat bemused (like quite a few other beck fans of my age). Aneka miles is a good drummer but not a bozzio, Walden and certainly not a vinnie coloiatua (yeh, I’m a drummer). Rhonda was good but the other musicians were just support. I’m pleased you enjoyed it but, for me …. I have never walked out of a concert with such disappointment and feelings of disbelief at what I’ve just seen. Still, such is life, take care mate – keep on with the blogs – I do enjoy them. Cheers, Dave.


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 8, 2022 at 11:36 am

      Thanks for your support Dave. And if you ever see an old guy in a wheelchair with long grey hair at a local gig please do say hello. I am sorry you were disappointed. I honestly think the vocals often complement Beck’s amazing guitar. I have been a fan of Jeff Beck since I 1st saw him 50 years ago in Beck, Bogart and Appice at the Grangemouth Festival in Scotland. He outshines everyone with his guitar playing. Happy days Peter


  3. Posted by John on June 8, 2022 at 6:46 am

    Hi Peter,

    Another great review. I particularly liked your description of Jeff Becks guitar work. It is very interesting to me to know how he achieves his sound.

    All the best,



  4. Posted by GrahamF. on June 8, 2022 at 9:30 am

    Yes. An interesting view of the concert. I suppose you could look at it both ways. My personal view was, is, the introduction of some vocals, albeit not great, gave the evening a little should I say, variety. I mean Beck, was fantastic as expected and the appearance of Sharon Corr as the support was the icing on the cake. A good gig.


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 8, 2022 at 11:24 am

      I missed Sharon Corr as I was attending a wedding party earlier in the evening. Hence I did not comment on her in my review. She was just ending her set as I arrived. Cheers Peter


  5. Posted by Graham F. on June 8, 2022 at 9:42 am

    Just like to add, as a footnote, the amazing drumming of Anika Nilles. Fantastic backing with Rhonda Smith on base as well.


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 8, 2022 at 11:21 am

      Well said Graham. Yes the band were amazing. Happy days Peter


    • Posted by Dave Henderson on June 8, 2022 at 4:09 pm

      Hi Graham, I realised later I hadn’t got Anika’s name right so I’m pleased your comment put the record straight. She is a good drummer but I just felt she played it safe watching her fills and how she finished songs, then again, I was probably disappointed it wasn’t Vinnie. However, music is subjective and if we all thought the same the world would be a boring place so, good on you mate. Cheers, Dave


      • Posted by vintagerock on June 8, 2022 at 4:23 pm

        Thanks Dave. Best wishes Peter

      • Posted by Graham F. on June 8, 2022 at 4:28 pm

        No worries Dave. I was hoping Vinnie was drumming also! I’ve seen him with sting eons ago. A legend. Glad you had a good night. I’ve got a couple of things to look forward too. Justin Hayward in Darlington and Stevie Hackett at the Sage. Anything for you?

      • Posted by vintagerock on June 8, 2022 at 5:03 pm

        Hi Graham and Dave I am also going to see Justin Hayward and Steve Hackett! Best wishes Peter

      • Posted by Dave henderson on June 8, 2022 at 5:34 pm

        The cold stares@the cluny, focus@sage, king’s x@wylam brewery and the zombies@arc, Stockton. Being in a working pub band (graham henderson experience) means I miss out on a few concerts but there you go. Cheers fellas

      • Posted by vintagerock on June 10, 2022 at 2:10 pm

        Some good bands there Dave happy days Peter

  6. Posted by Graham F. on June 8, 2022 at 11:34 am

    Peter. Great review! Cheers for that. Keep posting your reviews. Great reads!


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