Jeff Beck causes a commotion

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / June 4, 2010

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British guitar god Jeff Beck’s latest release is titled “Emotion & Commotion.’’ Last night at the Bank of America Pavilion, he gave a vibrant performance that evoked the former and caused plenty of the latter.

Neither a stoic statue nor a purveyor of overwrought “guitar face,’’ Beck expertly found the sweet spot between emotion and precision, embodying both the maverick and the technician. His top-flight trio — agile drummer Narada Michael Walden, fierce bassist and occasional vocalist Rhonda Smith, and supple keyboardist Jason Rebello — followed that lead to a T. Whether stretching out into mind-blowing yet economical solos or making tight musical beds for their boss to play on, the group was rock solid.

The full house responded to the disparate set pieces — a thundering, stop-on-a-dime “Led Boots,’’ the Celtic-flavored “Mna na h’Eireann,’’ a synthy and sentimental “Over the Rainbow,’’ a gloriously funky run through Sly Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher’’ — with enthusiastic hoots and uncontrollable fits of air guitar.

If Beck wasn’t tugging at the heart with the soul-piercing lyricism of his fretwork — as on the stirring “People Get Ready’’ — he was punching the gut with swampy blues or a rumbling prog stomp that could easily serve as the soundtrack for an invading army.

In a night of peaks “Angel (Footsteps)’’ stood out for Beck’s exquisite slide guitar work. A reverent take on the Beatles’ classic “A Day in the Life’’ also lifted the night into the realm of the magical.

Others may have sold more records, but the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has few peers when it comes to transforming six strings into one voice.

It was a red-hot homecoming for Susan Tedeschi and husband Derek Trucks, whose opening set more than matched the sticky night air with a romp through humid blues and funk rave-ups.

Sarah Rodman can be reached at

JEFF BECK With Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks

At: Bank of America Pavilion, last night