Music lovers who went to see and hear guitar legend Jeff Beck’s concert Wednesday at Tulsa’s Brady Theater got a bonus: Johnny Depp accompanied Beck on stage.
Beck played for about 45 minutes and then was joined by Depp for essentially the remainder of the show, according to audience member Greg Renoff, the Tulsa-based author of “Van Halen Rising.”
“It was obvious they had rehearsed,” Renoff said. “It was not like he came out on stage and jammed to ‘Johnny B. Goode’ or something like that. It was like they had rehearsed and done something obviously ahead of time to get ready for this. I don’t know the full back story, but I would not be surprised if that has been in the works for many weeks rather than just being a thing that came up in the last week or so.”
Depp also was a guest participant during Beck’s previous tour stop in Kansas City, Missouri, so word began to spread pre-show that perhaps Depp might be part of the Tulsa concert. Renoff said he and a friend (Brett Modglin) noticed during set-up that an extra guitar amp was put on stage. It gave them an inkling a special guest might be showing up.
After the initial 45 minutes, Renoff said a hat-wearing guy (“he kind of looked like Keith Richards meets Joe Perry”) moved from the side of the stage to on the stage. It was you know who. The first song Depp and Beck teamed up on was Link Wray’s “Rumble.”
Renoff said Depp played different guitars and sang during the show. Renoff described Depp’s singing as David Bowie-esque, adding “His voice is relatively unremarkable, but it kind of works in a rock format.” Renoff said Depp is a competent guitar player who “stayed in his pocket” and did not do “guitar hero stuff.”
Depp wasn’t the only guest. Jimmy Hall was part of the show, too. Hall, former lead singer of the Southern rock group Wet Willie, was nominated for a Grammy after singing lead vocals on a Beck album (“Flash”) in 1985.
Renoff said he is a huge Beck fan. He called Beck a great performer and a legend. But Renoff also said he understands why some people could be put off a little bit by Depp’s role “because it did change what Beck did obviously. He was playing more vocal-driven songs and was not doing his instrumental stuff, which is kind of what people want out of Beck with those incredible lead lines and the melodicism and the lyricism of his runs. He’s just amazing that way. (This) was a different sort of thing, but I always come away from a show like that going ‘that was different.’ When am I ever going to see Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp play guitar together?”
Bottom line: “It was cool. It was definitely cool.”
Renoff said there appeared to be real camaraderie between Beck and Depp. Beck treated Depp like a peer.
“I don’t mean they were hanging all over each other on stage, but they seemed to be really enjoying each other and kind of gave each other a hug as they walked off stage,” the author said. “They seemed to be friends and not just this thing where there’s a celebrity guitarist-musician-actor who wants to play so I am going to let him play. They actually seemed like they were buddies.”
Renoff described the crowd as very appreciative. He said the Brady Theater was about 75% full. Ticket sales for future Beck shows may be goosed by the possibility of more Depp appearances.
“I have every reason to believe they are going to do it again,” Renoff said. “I’m not saying they are forming a band, but I suspect he is continuing wherever they are going next.”