Live At Sapporo Green Dome (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-333/334)
Sapporo Green Dome, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan – December 14th, 1980
Disc 3 (42:04): Star Cycle, El Becko, Too Much To Lose, The Pump, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Space Boogie, The Final Peace, Led Boots
Disc 4 (46:05): Freeway Jam, Diamond Dust, Scatterbrain, Blue Wind
Jeff Beck’s show in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan was the eighth out of eleven dates in Japan (8th Day Of Rocupation ’80?) and, since his previous visits in 1973 and 1978 missed Sapporo, it was his first show in the northern city.
The audience tape in circulation for the show is very good to borderline excellent. It is able to capture very many details that are normally lost in other audience recordings. On the negative side, there are very faint traces of distortion in the high frequencies. The tape cuts in during the opening of “Star Cycle” (apparently the person recording the show taped taped over it), a small cut before “Led Boots” and the encores “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat / You Never Know” and “Going Down” are missing.
Going Down (Aphrodite Studio APH-91004-1/2) is another well known title containing this show. Released in 1991, in addition to Sapporo it also included “Going Down” from the December 4th Budokan show and a studio recording of “Rock And Roll Jelly” featuring Stanley Clarke and Carmine Appice on drums.
Of all the shows in Japan, this is perhaps the most laid back and mellow. Not only is the audience polite and quite while listening to the music, they offer scant applause between the numbers. Beck himself, who is normally quite laconic, is even more so during the show only offering short introductions to Mo Foster after “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” and Tony Hymas after “Led Boots.”
On the positive side, this is another stellar performance from the guitarist, who would take a long holiday from live performance several days after. He’s attempting to interject some improvisations into the material not heard in other performances starting with some unusual melodies in “Star Cycle.”
The stand out track of the evening occurs near the beginning with a mind altering performance of “Too Much To Lose,” an instrumental from the new album There & Back. Jan Hammer wrote and recorded the tune (with vocals) on the Jan Hammer Group’s 1977 album Melodies. But Beck’s interpretation, with the schizophrenic guitar over the funky bassline, is a substantial improvement. So much so that Hammer would re-record it as an instrumental in 1989 for Snapshots (with Beck, David Gilmour and Ringo Starr).
The latter half of the show is quite intense with a long version of “Freeway Jam.” The keyboards are given a workout for “Diamond Dust,” and “Scatterbrain” reaches over twenty minutes with a surprisingly subtle drum solo which sounds excellent in this detailed recording.
It’s a shame the rest of the show is absent because it is overall an excellent show, startling for its subtly.
Live At Sapporo Green Dome was released in 2005 packaged in a two-disc fatboy jewel case. Empress Valley include an excellent mini reproduction of the tour programme for sale at the venue. It’s a nice touch from back when the label were still innovators in mastering, presentation and packing. This is the definitive version of Sapporo until another tape surfaces with the missing encores.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)