JEFF BECK GROUP CHEERED IN DEBUT
British Pop Singers Delight Fillmore East Audience
They were standing and cheering for a new British pop group last night at the Fillmore East. The American debut of the Jeff Beck Group promises much heated enthusiasm for the quartet in its six-week American tour.
Mr. Beck is a young Londoner who distinguished himself for a year and a half as the lead guitarist of the Yardbirds. He was seen, if not really heard, in a sequence of the film "Blow-Up" and has generally earned a reputation as a highly polished and adroit blues guitarist. He and his band deal in the blues mainly, but with an urgency and sweep that is quite hard to resist.
The group's principal format is the interaction of Mr. Beck's wild and visionary guitar against the hoarse and insistent shouting of Rod Stewart, with gutsy backing on drums and bass.
Their dialogues were lean and laconic, the verbal Ping-Pong of a musical Pinter play.
The climaxes were primal, bringing the "big beat" of the English rock school forward.
But there were whimsy and invention and modernist games thrown in, in "Beck's Boogie" and variations on "Bolero." All told, an auspicious beginning for an exciting group.
The British group upstaged, for one listener, at least, the featured performers, the Grateful Dead of San Francisco. This two-drummer sextet was settling into its elaborate and discursive arrangements in a musically psychedelic vein when the deadline came. The band sounded more cohesive and disciplined than past outings here and was warmly received.
A rather aimless performance by a trio called The Seventh Sons opened the evening wanly. Perhaps it was an off-night for the group or perhaps they were totally overwhelmed by the rest of the bill.
(by Robert Shelton, from the New York Times, 15 June 1968)