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Eric Clapton – Season! (Mid Valley MVR 470-473)

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Eric Clapton – Season!  (MVR 470-473)

The Marquee, Cork, Ireland – June 20, 2008
Malahide Castle, Dublin, Ireland – June 21, 2008

Disc 1. Intro -  Tell The Truth -  Key To The Highway -  Hoochie Coochie Man -  Little Wing -  Outside Woman Blues -  Double Trouble -  Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad -  When You Got a Good Friend – Rockin’ Chair -  Motherless Child -  Travelling Riverside Blues -  Running On Faith

Disc 2.  Motherless Children -  Little Queen Of Spades -  Before You Accuse Me -  Wonderful Tonight -  Layla -  Cocaine -  Got My Mojo Working (w/Robert Randolph)

Disc 3.  Introduction – Tell The Truth -  Key To The Highway -  Hoochie Coochie Man -  Isn’t It A Pity -  Outside Woman Blues -  Double Trouble -  Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad -  Driftin’ -  Rockin’ Chair -  Motherless Child -  Travelling Riverside Blues -  Running On Faith

Disc 4.   Motherless Children -  Little Queen Of Spades -  Before You Accuse Me -  Wonderful Tonight -  Layla -  Cocaine -  Got My Mojo Working (w/Robert Randolph)

“Season!” features the first two nights of the European Summer Tour of 2008, which comprised of 16 performances in 9 countries starting in Ireland on June 20 and finishing in Monaco on August 23.

Compared to the previous US leg of the tour, a few changes appear both in the setlist and in the band, which now sees Willie Weeks back on bass after missing the US and Canadian dates, and recently recruited Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums. Abe is an American drummer who has previuosly worked with Paul McCartney, Sting and Sheryl Crow to name a few. The rest of the band remains unchanged with Chris Stainton on the keyboards, Doyle Bramhall II on guitar and Michelle John and Sharon White on backing vocals.

  The Marquee, Cork, Ireland – June 20, 2008

The introduction on Disc1 by English comedian Peter Kay  is quite funny. The show takes place in something that looks like a circus tent and Mr. Kay says “[...] Ladies and gentlemen… Welcome to this fantastic tent!! Before we bring on the elephants and giraffes, ladies and gentlemen, it is my enormous pleasure…[...] to bring on to this stage… I just wanna tell you he’s not doing Badge, ladies and gentlemen…[...] will you please welcome onstage the wonderful…Mr. Eric Clapton!” EC acknowledges Peter just before he hits the first chords to Tell The Truth. Highlights on the first night have got to be Tell The Truth, Hoochie Coochie Man, Little Wing, Double Trouble, Little Queen Of Spades, Layla and Cocaine.

Tell The Truth sees Abe really pushing the band on to one of the best renditions of this song in a while. Hoochie Coochie Man features the same arrangement it’s been treated to for the past few years, with a great Chris Stainton on the keyboards. However, it is EC the one who steals the song by playing a splendid solo. Little Wing is amazing with Doyle and EC each playing their hearts out. Double Trouble is great, even featuring a couple of lines flubbed by Doyle on his solo. Doyle makes up for that on Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, where he delivers a very inspired solo.

EC seems to be in a good mood because just before starting the acoustic set he even asks the audience “if they are having a good time… hoping that silly fat man at the beginning didn’t put them off the whole thing”… This could be EC’s  longest line to a crowd in a long long while!

The highlight of the acoustic set has got to be the mellow song Rockin’ Chair, which fits more than well between When You Got A Good Friend and Motherless ChildTravelling Riverside Blues is played after EC says “Robert Johnson, Robert Johnson” to the audience. The lovely Running On Faith closes Disc1.

Motherless Child must have left Abe exhausted because he really does hit the drums particularly during the slide parts of the song… and the fact that the next song is the slow blues number Little Queen Of Spades adds credibility to it. As a tribute to the passing of Bo Diddley on June 2, EC plays Before You Accuse Me next. Wonderful Tonight sees the audience sing along with EC, who finishes the song with some subtle, beautiful guitar lines. Layla sounds absolutely fresh and alone is worth the price of admission, with a terrific, brilliant solo from EC. Cocaine closes the show with EC taking the solo on the first half and then Doyle and Chris Stainton, who completely steals the  song, sharing the spotlight on the second half of the song. A rocking version of Got My Mojo Working with Robert Randolph joining the band is the only encore of the show.

Malahide Castle, Dublin, Ireland – June 21, 2008

With over 250 acres of park land, the Malahide Castle is just 9 miles north of Dublin and used to be both a fortress as well as the private home  of the Talbot family who lived there from 1185 to 1973 just when the last Lord Talbot died. The castle then passed to his sister Rose, who sold the castle to the Irish State in 1975.

The weather on the night of the show was reported to be quite bad, cold, rainy and windy. With the audience soaking wet in the pouring rain EC thanks them for staying. “You have my complete, total respect!” he says. EC talked about the weather when he was interviewed by Johnnie Walker on BBC2 Radio on June 3. Johnnie asked questions about the tour, but EC seemed to be more interested in what the weather would be like when he hit the UK. After asking Johnnie whether Malahide was an outdoor event or not, EC said “playing outdoor shows in Europe is such a gamble!”. And he was right!! Because of the bad weather, a couple power failures took place – one during Layla, the other one during Got My Mojo Working - making it impossible for most of the audience to be able to hear any music at all for quite a few minutes. This is well documented on the tape.

Little Wing and When You Got A Good Friend are dropped in favour of Isn’t It A Pity and Driftin’ for this show. I love Isn’t It A Pity but had I to choose, I think I would take the performance of Little Wing from the night before. It was just much more passionate.

Great guitar work from both Doyle and EC make Double Trouble a highlight again. EC changes the order of the first verses on Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad before embarking on a nice guitar duel with Doyle. The acoustic set kicks off with a lovely version of Driftin’. Motherless Child sees EC having some problems with the volume of his acoustic guitar at the beginning but they are soon fixed. Like the previous night, EC quotes Robert Johnson before Travelling Riverside Blues and just before another beautiful rendition of Running On Faith – with EC playing an acoustic solo first and then Doyle playing an electric one after EC beautifully sang the “love, love comes over you” verses – EC addressed the audience and said “Well, finally… the weather’s changed… Thanks God!”

Disc4 opens with Abe Laborel Jr’s powerful drumming on Motherless Children. It is mandatory to highlight Little Queen Of Spades, with beautiful work from Chris, Doyle and EC himself. Before You Accuse Me is played at a slight higher pace than the original and is definitely well received by the audience.Chris and Doyle share the spotlight on the first half of the song and EC closes the song with a great guitar solo.  Time to slow things a bit with Wonderful Tonight. Two things I like about it: it is short at just 4 minutes and features a brief but nice solo in the outro from EC.

Layla is as great as ever, but a power failure right in the middle of EC’s solo ruins the recording. It is a complete shame as the solo was an inspired one. The band did not stop playing so one has to assume the stage monitors kept on working. It is not until the end of the Layla coda that the PA kicks in again. Cocaine closes the show but unlike the night before, it is far from being one of the standouts of the night. 

Got My Mojo Working with Robert Randolph is again the only encore of the show and sees the second power failure  of the night. Again, the tape gives clear evidence of what happened. Everything gets fixed by the end of the song.

Season!” is a great release that features EC’s first two shows in Europe in 2008 in excellent audience quality, with Cork being slightly better than Malahide. It also comes with a bonus DVD featuring, almost in its entirety, EC’s last gig of his US/Canadian tour in Wantagh, NY on June 5, 2008. The bonus DVD comes with Higher Ground as a bonus track. It is taken from EC’s appearance with Sheryl Crow at the 2008 Sunfest in West Palm Beach, FL.

My advice can’t be other than “go and get this set while you can!”

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Eric Clapton - Season! (Mid Valley MVR 470-473), 3.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

1 Comment

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  1. Avatar of classicrawker
    October 11, 2008, 6:20 pm

    I just received my copy this week and have to agree that these two audience recording are execellent!. I orginally thought the Cork show was slightly better but the Malahide show is its equal after a few songs when the taper gets settled. It may be even slightly better then the Cork show with all the instruments perfectly balanced. If it were not for the bass drums being slightly boomy on both shows you could mistake these for pro recordings. The DVD is an audience shot affair and is a nice bonus but was shot from a distance and is slightly grainy. When the taper zooms in the bands faces are slightly soft and unfocused but the audio is very good and it is entertaining to watch…

    Mid Valley seems to have realized that they can’t command crazy money for all their releases as this cost about what a typical 2cd boot goes for making it an outstanding value as boot go. All in all a nice job by Mid Valley and I hope they continue to release shows like this at reasonable prices.

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