Eric Clapton – Family Plot (Tinkerbell BELL-18/19)
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – February 15, 2009
Disc1. Opening Sound Effects – Tell The Truth – Key To The Highway – Hoochie Coochie man – I Shot The Sheriff – Isn’t It A Pity – Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? – Driftin’ – Travelin’ Alone – That’s Alright – Motherless Child – Running On Faith
Disc2. Motherless Children – Little Queen Of Spades – Before You Accuse Me – Wonderful Tonight – Layla – Cocaine – Crossroads
“Family Plot” was the first silver disc release from the 2009 Japan Tour to see the light of day. It documents EC’s third show of the tour and first one in Tokyo. There is more crowd noise than you would expect on a recording at the Budokan – of particular note is a guy yelling at the beginning of Sheriff who also gets mad at one point right in the middle of EC’s great solo on the outro – and the tape sounds a bit distant at times too.
Some of the Clapton die-hard fans in Tokyo must have experienced some kind of deja-vu feeling after they listened to EC’s first two songs on his first show in Tokyo in more than two years’ time….. On the last show of his Japan Tour in Tokyo in December 2006 EC opened the show with Tell The Truth and Key To The Highway…. exactly the same way as he opens it in 2009. It is true that there is a different drummer this time which makes the band sound quite different from what they sounded like two years ago but it would still be a kind of waste of time to see EC revisiting the very same setlist he played in 2006. Thank Heavens that deja-vu feeling is gone by the time the first chords to Hoochie Coochie Man are heard. More than seven minutes long, tonight’s performance of this Willie Dixon track is an outstanding showcase for Doyle, Chris and EC to shine on their instruments.
As mentioned before, Sheriff unfolds into a majestic solo on the outro. It is followed by the very moving Isn’t It A Pity which has got to be another highpoint of the night with one of the sweetest playings a ballad can ever be provided with. There is a little sound adjustment noticeable on the first chorus to Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad whose outro alone is worth the price of admission.
Driftin’ sees nothing but EC and his acoustic guitar versus the audience at the Budokan. Unfortunately there are quite a few interferences present on the tape ( they sound like they are caused by a zipper / slide fastener) and also some talking is captured too. These issues also affect Travelin’ Alone and they get to distract me from enjoying this part of the show. Motherless Child is the last acoustic blues traditional to be performed and gives way to the more spiritual Running On Faith. Motherless Children brims with energy before EC shuffles from fast to slow with Little Queen Of Spades where Chris Stainton and EC are specially brilliant. Shuffling from slow to fast come the band with a loose version of Before You Accuse me before heading to the final part of the show which consists of a trilogy of seminal songs: Wonderful Tonight, Layla and Cocaine. Layla is the one to get my vote with some great notes right before the coda. Cocaine is nicely performed too but it is marred by some chatting that gets my attention again. Crossroads closes the show nicely with passionate solos from EC, Doyle and EC again.
“Family Plot” is an under par audience recording from what you would expect to surface from Japan these days. Still, EC’s performance is what may save this tape… until the day better silvers arise.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)