Introduced onstage by a Chelsea Pensioner, and with Jimmy Page looking on from side-stage, Beck ripped into the blistering jazz fusion of Stratus. It was one of a few incendiary covers songs planted into a lengthy set of superlative musicianship from both band and maestro alike.
Rewinding through his own stellar back catalogue, a sparky take on Star Cycle from his There And Back album reminded his rapt audience of his own songwriting expertise.
This set up a showcase of supreme individual performances on Mahavishnu Orchestra’s You Know, You Know. Rhonda Smith’s bass popping funky fingered finesse and Vinny Colaiuta percussive prowess, was a masterclass by musicians bang on top of their game.
Added to this heady mix is founding Sonus Quartet member cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith bringing her own depth and flair to the bottom end sound.
Also, the super-lunged Southern rich vocals of Jimmy Hall who excelled on Morning Dew and A Change Is Gonna Come.
Beck has clearly assembled an Everest sized group that stands head, shoulders and ears above any other.
Many musicians have covered Hendrix’s Little Wing without quite matching the deft nuances of its creator. Beck seemingly managed this with ease, flicking out sonic flurries of notes into this open-air regal arena.
However, it was a masterly performance of dexterity on The Beatles’ A Day In The Life, adroitly abetted by Freebairn-Smith, that arguably stole the show. Then again, there were so many magical performance moments to choose from.
Encores of You Shook Me and Going Down brought standing ovations from this sold out venue. Also, a wistful, admiring smile from Jimmy Page watching his old mate out there commandingly treading the boards.