Fresh off September dates with Ann Wilson of Heart and ZZ Top, legendary guitarist Jeff Beck arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday night to begin his fall headlining tour at the Coca-Cola Roxy. Nestled directly in the shadow of Truist Park (home to the Atlanta Braves), this 3,600 capacity theatre was opened back in 2017 as a cornerstone destination within The Battery Atlanta, a mixed-use development of restaurants and condominiums adjacent to the ballpark. On Saturday, with a sold-out Braves vs. New York Mets pivotal playoff-implications game overlapping with Beck’s scheduled concert, the out-in-full-force Battery crowd was buzzing with excitement in every direction.
As fans waited in line in the overly breezy evening to enter the Cola-Cola Roxy, a more specific buzz was starting to happen among the crowd. A rumor had been circulating that Beck’s collaborator, actor/musician Johnny Depp, was going to make an appearance. While it had already been reported that Depp would not be joining Beck until the Tuesday, October 4th show in Washington, D.C., that clearly didn’t stop the fans from holding out hope. The rumor I had heard was that Depp was attempting to make it to Atlanta, but missed his flight in Paris. Who really knows? Either way, he did not make a surprise entrance.
Who did make a surprise entrance was unannounced opener “Catfish” Hill Roberts, a locally-based singer/songwriter from Canton, Georgia. Armed only with his acoustic Gibson, Roberts nervously warmed up the large crowd with 30-minutes of blues and folk tunes. He was jokingly heckled by a few ladies in the front row, with them yelling out comments like “Hey, you aren’t Jeff Beck” when he walked out on stage, to “What is your name?” before he started playing his first song. Roberts seemingly took it all in stride with a smile, but I got the impression that he literally found out like an hour before this show that he was going to open for Beck.
At precisely 9:00pm, donning his signature sunglasses, the 78-year-old Beck took to the stage, opening with the tune “Space for the Papa” from Who Else!, his seventh studio album released in 1999. He continued to delight the adoring yet seated crowd with a performance of the well-known song “Freeway Jam” from his 1975 album, Blow by Blow. Having never seen Beck live before, he was simply mesmerizing to witness up close and in person, almost as if he was gifted to play a guitar with 12 fingers. It is no wonder why he has been rewarded eight Grammy awards over his illustrious career.
Beck, out on the road in support of the 13-track collaborative studio album titled 18 that he released with Depp back in July, performed a sampling of tracks from that collection including “Midnight Walker” (Davy Spillane cover), “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder) (The Beach Boys cover), “Caroline No” (Brian Wilson Cover), and “What’s Going On” (Marvin Gaye cover). With Depp set to join Beck, Rhonda Smith (bass), Anika Nilles (drums) and Robert Adam Stevenson (keyboards) later this week, I can only assume that the setlist will continue to evolve and include more songs that highlight Depp’s vocal abilities and recent album contributions.
The evening of stellar musicianship hit its finale with a masterful rendition of “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles, albeit I was still partial to Beck’s awe-inspiring delivery of “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix as my favorite performance of the night. Beck is a living legend not to be missed, so if you get the chance, I highly recommend you catch him, Depp and the rest of the band when they roll up to your town this fall.
P.S. The Braves beat the Mets, 4-2.
Jeff Beck Band
Jeff Beck – Guitar
Rhonda Smith – Bass
Anika Nilles – Drums
Robert Adam Stevenson – Keyboards
1.) Space for the Papa
2.) Freeway Jam
3.) Me and the Devil Blues (Robert Johnson cover)
4.) Midnight Walker (Davy Spillane cover)
5.) Big Block
6.) Caroline No (Brian Wilson cover)
7.) Rumble (Link Wray & His Raymen cover)
8.) The Pump
9.) You Know You Know (Mahavishnu cover)
10.) Loose Cannon
12.) Star Cycle
13.) Brush With the Blues
14.) Stratus (Billy Cobham cover)
15.) What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye cover)
16.) Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers (Syreeta cover)
17.) You Never Know
18.) Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder) (The Beach Boys cover)
19.) Little Wing (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
20.) Corpus Christi Carol (Benjamin Britten cover)
21.) A Day in the Life (The Beatles cover)
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Elliott is a music photographer covering shows in the Atlanta, Georgia and the surrounding area. The highlight of his photography career was back in the early 90s, selling Neil Diamond the rights to his negatives from a show and purchasing a set of tires for his 1979 280ZX during college with the money.