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Jeff Beck & Johnny Depp live Chicago (full Concert)

0 Views· 12/12/23
Aryel Narvasa
Aryel Narvasa

State Street might as well have been Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday night as a flock of Jack Sparrows, Johnny Depp lookalikes and other anxious fans piled into the Chicago Theatre where the actor joined guitar star Jeff Beck for a sold-out show to promote the duo’s collaborative new album “18.” Depp was announced as Beck’s special guest back in September, a late add-on to the musician’s scheduled tour, now on hiatus until Nov. 1. A mere 90 minutes and 20 songs later, the night could be best described as a tale of two concerts that met at the crossroads of guitar hero adulation and celebrity worship, without much crossover in the middle.
Beck began the night on his own merits, the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer hitting the stage amid a standing ovation from his fans — no doubt diehards since his Yardbirds days. Dressed in a leather vest, jeans and a pair of shades, Beck looked every part the bonafide rocker as he delivered 11 songs of pure instrumental glory (save for a talk box accompaniment on a cover of the legendary Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues”).
Seamlessly transitioning through decades of material like “Freeway Jam,” “Loose Cannon” and “Star Cycle,” Beck’s performance was a master class in the guitar from one of music’s greatest players. Even sans vocals, he captivated the audience by speaking to them through the stringed vessel, showing its dramatic and emotive side — if not also the breadth it can accomplish, from straight-up blues to prog rock to jazz fusion.
Of course, Beck was not alone in this task, supported by a phenomenal backing band including bassist Rhonda Smith, drummer Anika Nilles and keyboardist Robert Stevenson, who were ambassadors of their instruments and had the kind of musical chemistry that produces explosive results.

When it was time for Depp’s entrance at song 12, the room’s temperature shifted so fast you might have thought a weather front moved across the theater. Down went many of the classic Beck fans who took their seats and paused the hooting and hollering that had created the air of a rough-hewn blues club just moments prior. And up went a sea of celebrity gawkers lighting up the aisles with the glow of their paparazzi smartphones while screaming a chorus of “I Love You Johnny.”

Over a near 60-year career, Beck has worked alongside with the likes of Buddy Guy, Rod Stewart, Beth Hart, Ronnie Wood — the list goes on. But Depp is perhaps one of his most eclectic choices, especially in the wake of the actor’s highly publicized court battle with ex-wife Amber Heard.

In fact, Depp’s first appearance with Beck was at a show in the U.K. in late May as the jury was still deliberating in his trial, to offer the first tastes of “18,” their album (made up heavily of cover material) released via Rhino in July. It’s been in the works for three years, after the two met in 2016 and found kinship in music.

The duo performed much of it during the second half of the night as Depp took on vocal duty and shifted between electric and acoustic guitars. There was a gripping take on John Lennon’s “Isolation,” a ripped rendition of The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” that showed off Depp’s lower register, and a punchy, boot-stomping offering of Killing Joke’s great track, “Death and Resurrection Show.” There was also original material, like the bittersweet “This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr,” a song about the pitfalls of fame that, not surprisingly, was Depp’s most vulnerable moment.

Though the actor has played a swashbuckler, a murderous barber, an off-kilter candy man and a sweet soul with scissors for hands in films, portraying himself on a live stage is a place where he really shines. A fact some might forget: Before he was ever a Cry-Baby, Depp was a musician who dropped out of high school to pursue rock stardom.
The silver screen may have gotten in the way of that pursuit, but Depp has since found his way back in recent years with The Hollywood Vampires supergroup and now working with Beck.
Deep clearly has a staunch fan base all too ready to give him a rock ‘n’ roll resurrection— on this night begging for autographs mid-show, vying for a coveted guitar picks and waiting outside by the tour buses for a peek at the star. The kind of stuff that makes people feel “18” again.
Freeway Jam (Jeff Beck)

Loose Cannon (Jeff Beck)

Midnight Walker (Davy Spillane cover)

Big Block (Jeff Beck)

Caroline, No (Beach Boys cover)

You Know You Know (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)

Me And The Devil Blues (Robert Johnson cover)

Star Cycle (Jeff Beck)

Brush with the Blues (Jeff Beck)

You Never Know (Jeff Beck)

Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers (Syreeta)

Rumble (Link Wray cover)

This Is A Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr

Isolation (John Lennon cover)

Time (Dennis Wilson cover)

Venus In Furs (The Velvet Underground)

A Day in the Life (The Beatles cover)

Corpus Christi Carol (Benjamin Britten cover)

Little Wing (Jimi Hedrix)

Death and Resurrection Show (Killing Joke cover) ok

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