The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

Jeff Beck With The Imelda May Band: Ann Arbor 3/31/11

I guess I should have done a little more research, but I thought I bought tickets to a Jeff Beck show with Imelda May as the opening act. What I saw was exactly what it said on the ticket, Jeff Beck with the Imelda May Band.

I am sure that others people with the same assumption may have been disappointed, but it was actually an unexpected treat. They combined their talents to stage an old time rock and roll show. There was no Jeff beck or Imelda May material performed. The set list was comprised of classics by the likes of Duane Eddy, Bill Haley, and Elvis. The music was given authenticity by the Imelda May Band (rockabilly is their oeuvre anyway) and mastery from Mr. Beck.

One of the highlights was and entire section devoted to Les Paul and Mary Ford. Imelda prerecorded backing tracks just like Mary used to do, and Jeff channeled Les without losing any of his own personality. The tribute also explained why Imelda had chosen to wear a classic ’50’s style gown. The performances were exhilarating and a great homage. Les and Mary would have pleased.

I was almost fooled again when Imelda left the stage and Jeff picked up his Strat. Perhaps he was going to play some his stuff after all. The answer came as the horn players arrived and the bass line started for “The Peter Gunn Theme.” As may be expected he also put his stamp on the much covered “Sleepwalk.” Hey, it wouldn’t have been a golden age rock show without it.

The next big highlight was when Imelda returned in a tight cat dress to perform “Please Mr. Jailer.” Okay, that one is from the John Waters film “Crybaby,” and not a classic. Well so what? It was a perfect number for the band, and especially Imelda. This was the first time in the show where she was really able to let loose. Let me tell you, the woman has some serious pipes.

The band was called out for multiple encores, and they were well deserved. It wasn’t the show I thought I would see. In fact I probably wouldn’t have bought tickets for a rock revival like this, but I am glad I did. I think the difference is the relevance of the musicians performing (yes Jeff Beck is still relevant). They could of have chosen not to stray form the standard concert format. Both Jeff and Imelda have recent albums to promote. It is the love of the music that led to this collaboration. Catch this act if you get a chance. I doubt it will happen again.

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