I was lucky enough to be flying in to Geneva on the penultimate day of the Montreux Jazz Festival 2022, so thought lets get a ticket, it’s a once in a life time opportunity. Luckily for me that night was Van Morrison and Jeff Beck. Although well famous, I personally know little of their music but in for a penny etc. It was a bit of a tight squeeze getting there thanks to Easyjet moving my flight to the afternoon, but I eventually got to Montreux around 18:00 thanks to my cousins speedy driving.
Montreux is in a wonderful setting on the lake, the streets were rammed with people and there was plenty of free music available outside. So I grabbed a burger and beer and watched a band called Soft Loft, who were actually pretty good. Then off to the main event at the Montreax Stravinski Theatre. The place was already very full so I picked my way through to the middle as close as I could get to the stage so I could get some good shots and videos with my camera.
Van Morrison did a 90 minute setting commencing at 20:00. Resplendent in a light blue suit and big shades, and Panama hat he proceeded through his set without once talking in between songs – he has a reputation of being a miserable sod after all 😊. His backing band consisted of eight, 2 percussion, 2 horns, guitar, bass, keyboards and a lovely black lady singer with an amazing voice. Van mainly sang or joined in with sax, harmonica or guitar as required. The set had a jazzy feel with each song extended so that all the band could have a little bit of a jam in turn – typically jazz !
As it turns out I did know a few of his songs – ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’, ‘Moondance’, and ‘Gloria’ which were fine. Van basically stood centre stage and didn’t move much, but hey he’s 76 so good on him for even being there. In fairness his voice was really rather good (unlike say Rod Stewart whose is totally shot) and he used it to good effect on a couple of audience singalongs.
Van Morrison Setlist (click on link to watch my YouTube video)
- Thank God for the Blues
- Up County Down
- Days Like This
- These Dreams of You
- Centerpiece / Every Day I Have the Blues / Times Are Gettin’ Tougher Than Tough
- The New Symphony Sid (Lester Young)
- Goin’ Down Geneva / Brand New Cadillac
- Baby, Please Don’t Go / Got My Mojo Working
- I Can Tell (Bo Diddley)
- Broken Record
- In the Afternoon
- Laughin’ and Clownin’ (Sam Cooke)
- Early in the Mornin’ (Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five)
- Cleaning Windows
- Down to Joy
- Help Me (Sonny Boy Williamson)
- Gloria (Them)
I’m not a fan and don’t own any of his records so for me he was ok, I’ve seen him now but wouldn’t want to watch him again.
Now I was hoping that the audience would dissipate somewhat (beer, toilet etc) but alas I was sadly mistaken. Hardly anyone moved, and the place got even more full – I wonder why he said wryly😊?
Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp
After a spot of roadie’ing and stage adjustments on saunters Jeff Beck at 10:15 to polite applause. He is backed by bass, keyboards and drums – I swear blind that the band all looked about 14. They were older of course but I reckon their combined age was still less than Jeff’s 78 😊. However, they could play well particularly the girls on bass and drums – and each had a solo spotlight to show off their skills every now and then. Given his longevity I’d have thought he would play his own songs but there were many covers in the set. As for Jeff, well we know he can play guitar. It’s a rapid succession of instrumentals of various styles and tempos with an occasional “thank you” at the end of a song.
He spent the 1st half of the gig just walking up and down the stage effortlessly soloing or riffing to various jazz rocky songs – basically showing off. Left hand up and down the fretboard, right hand plucking strings, pressing the vibrato bar, and volume knob, in a combined action. I guess he was technically brilliant but I was really quite bored to be honest!
Jeff Beck / Johnny Depp Setlist approximate (click on link to watch my YouTube video)
- You Know You Know (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
- Stratus (Billy Cobham)
- Midnight Walker (Davy Spillane)
- Big Block
- Caroline, No (Brian Wilson)
- Brush With the Blues
- You Never Know
- Rumble (Link Wray & His Raymen) (with Johnny Depp)
- This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr (with Johnny Depp)
- Isolation (John Lennon) (with Johnny Depp)
- Time (Dennis Wilson) (with Johnny Depp)
- Venus in Furs (The Velvet Underground) (with Johnny Depp)
- Little Wing (The Jimi Hendrix Experience) (with Johnny Depp)
- The Death and Resurrection Show (Killing Joke) (with Johnny Depp)
- Corpus Christi Carol (Benjamin Britten cover)
- A Day in the Life (The Beatles cover) (with Johnny Depp)
Then the saviour (the majority of the audience were only there for one reason) Johnny Depp arrived. The whole crowd went ape shit and everyone had their phones out taking pictures and videoing the proceedings. Now this bloke is one cool dude, looks fantastic and can play rhythm guitar and sing as well as acting – what’s not to like. From the moment he came on Johnny Depp smashed it!
Jeff and Johnny both wore sunglasses, black trousers, white t-shirt with black waistcoat, but there the similarity ended. Johnny was bedecked in chains around his neck and bangles galore on both hands plus a bandana (I guess he still has access to his ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ wardrobe 😊 – Keef would have been proud). From where I was I could zoom into him pretty well and read all his tattoos..!!
Johnny simply turned the whole show around from a turgid boring affair into energised Rock ‘n’ Roll – god bless him. He’s not as good as the other musicians but that really doesn’t matter at all. The crowd are here for the spectacle. He croons John Lennon’s ‘Isolation’, swaggers on a storming rendition of Killing Joke’s ‘Death and Resurrection’ and struts a 12 string acoustic on his own composition ‘A Song for Miss Hedy Lemarr’ about the actress’s struggles. 11:30 curfew and the gig finishes, just as it was getting really interesting. That’s the Swiss for you 😊.
So for me chalk and cheese, Johnny added the “je ne sais quoi” that lifted the entire audience and made it a wholly memorable evening. He basically brought the house down! Star quality indeed.
Marko [30 July 2022]