Alright, I was keen, but I had to do some investigating too. I was desperate to find out just which Jeff Beck would be touring Australia. You see, he's been through some changes in a career that began when he replaced Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds in 1965.
Beck was a major influence on guitar playing through his early pyrotechnic style. Controlled feedback, string muting, manipulating guitar volume, aggressive slide guitar, extraordinary use of the wang bar, and all those waow and whoo punctuations that later players like Jimi Hendrix and Joe Walsh would also use to great effect. And melodic. Beautifully so.
You can hear him at his best on a 1966 album called Roger the Engineer, which features some great guitar tracks like Over Under Sideways Down, The Nazz Are Blue and the instrumental Jeff's Boogie.
But just after this album Beck suffered burnout from the conditions on a hastily arranged and gruelling 1966 US tour and was dismissed from the Yardbirds after leaving the party to go to California. By this time Jimmy Page was alongside him on guitar and a few gigs and three songs that were recorded during their short-lived pairing were only promising, rather than what they might have been.
Post-Yardbirds, Beck teamed up with producer Mickie Most for a series of largely forgettable singles, the exception being a dynamite instrumental called Beck's Bolero featuring Jimmy Page, Nicky Hopkins, John-Paul Jones and Keith Moon. Hopkins would join him for his next two solo albums, the 1968 Truth and Beck-Ola (1969). Also on board would be Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood on bass and Micky Waller on drums.
The lineup gelled beautifully on Truth and the newly re-mastered CD release showcases Beck's talent and growth. There is sensationally innovative playing across a range of styles, mostly blues-rock, on such songs as Shapes of Things, Let Me Love You, I Aint Superstitious and the acoustic Greensleeves. However, Beck-Ola was something of a disappointment, precipitating the departure of Stewart and Wood, off to join the Faces. This downturn would carry through into subsequent Jeff Beck Group lineups over the next three years and also the one album produced by his teaming up with Vanilla Fudge departees Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice in 1973's short-lived power-trio Beck, Bogert and Appice.
Along with Eric Clapton, Harvey Mandel, Wayne Perkins and Ron Wood, he was in the running to replace Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones but didn't fancy spending half his life waiting for Mick Jagger and Keith Richard to turn up and so concentrated on a solo project to be produced by Beatles' recording overseer, George Martin. When Blow By Blow was released in 1975, Beck had heralded the arrival of jazz-rock. His haunting instrumental cover of the Beatles' She's A Woman, replete with talk-box, even got airplay on Top 40 radio, and the album's evocative ambience made it a surprise hit, and not just with guitar enthusiasts.
Beck would team up with keyboard player Jan Hammer to further explore the potential of jazz-rock and fusion for the next few albums and almost incessant touring. But it was just like old times in 1984 when Beck played on and appeared in the video for the Rod Stewart single Infatuation.
This might have convinced him he could tolerate having a vocalist in the band again because his 1985 release, Flash, saw him once more showing that he is a master of a range of styles. Closing off a five-year period without an album release, this unashamed rock album demonstrated Beck's playing was still cutting edge, easily matching the innovative quality of such latter-day luminaries as Eddie Van Halen and Michael Schenker.
This was Beck at his very best: beautiful, soulful blues on the hit single People Get Ready, with Rod Stewart on vocals; and a powerfully modern rock approach infusing songs like Ambitious and It Gets Us All In The End. Beck was back. And the homecoming was spectacular, but ultimately short-lived.
There would be no follow up to Flash as Beck experimented with industrial music and returned to jazz-rock and fusion over the next few years. And that's why I was apprehensive about the concert: my favourite Jeff Beck stuff was from the Yardbirds; the first Jeff Beck Group; and Flash.
So, would he be playing a complete career retrospective, or just what he's up to right now, another of his many progressions?