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Eric Clapton – Two Gunslingers In The O2 (Beano-034)

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Two Gunslingers In The O2 (Beano-034)
The O2 Arena, London, UK – February 13&14, 2010

Disc1. Eternity’s Breath – Stratus – Led Boots – Corpus Christi Carol – Bass Solo by Rhonda Smith – Hammerhead – Mna Na Heireann – People Get Ready – Big Block – There’s No Other Me – Put A Spell On You – A Day In The Life.
Disc2. Driftin’ – Layla – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down & Out – Running On Faith – When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful – Tell The Truth – Key To The Highway – I Shot The Sheriff – Wonderful Tonight – Cocaine – Crossroads.
Disc3. Shake Your Moneymaker – Moon River – You Need Love – Outside Woman Blues – Little Brown Bird – Wee Wee Baby – (I Want To Take You) Higher – Hi Ho Silver Lining.

Disc4. Eternity’s Breath – Stratus – Led Boots – Corpus Christi Carol – Bass Solo by Rhonda Smith – Hammerhead – Mna Na Heireann – People Get Ready – Big Block – Lilac Wine – A Day In The Life – Nessun Dorma.
Disc5. Driftin’ – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down & Out – Running On Faith – When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful – Tell The Truth – Key To The Highway – I Shot The Sheriff – Little Queen Of Spades – Cocaine.
Disc6. Shake Your Moneymaker – Moon River – You Need Love – Outside Woman Blues – Little Brown Bird – Wee Wee Baby – (I Want To Take You) Higher – Hi Ho Silver Lining.

Jeff Beck & His Band

Jeff Beck – Guitar
Jason Rebello – Keyboards
Rhonda Smith – Bass
Narada Michael Walden – Drums
… accompanied by a 12-piece Orchestra

Eric Clapton & His Band

Eric Clapton – Guitar & Vocals
Chris Stainton – Keyboards
Walt Richmond – Keyboards
Willie Weeks – Bass
Steve Gadd – Drums
Michelle John & Sharon White – Backing Vocals

The first time that EC and Jeff Beck joined forces on stage took place back in 1981 at “The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball”. They played nothing but a few songs which included Crossroads, Further On Up The Road and ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers. They would team up again two years later at the ARMS shows and  20+ years  had to pass before they would share the same stage again: that happened at EC’s 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival. 2007 saw EC and Jeff Beck reunite twice. First it was on EC’s 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival and in November 2007, EC appeared at Beck’s shows at Ronnie Scott’s in London. The last time they played together was in February 2009, when they shared a double bill for a couple of gigs at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

The shows at the O2 Arena had been announced back in September 2009 and 4 further dates in the US and Canada were added later on in what would become the “Together & Apart” Tour. As soon as the  two presales for the London dates were announced and with first and second row tickets having been scored I did find it difficult to get some sleep for a while! With my tickets being priced at 125GBP (plus fees!) my wallet used to say they were  e x p e n s i v e but after living the experience of witnessing two events like these all I can say the shows were c h e a p!!

I was impressed by the venue. It is a wonderful modern arena and its acoustics were phenomenal. Of course it lacks the atmosphere of the Royal Albert Hall, but how could it not when the capacity  is about 20,000 people!! By the way, for such an amount of people, there was almost no queueing at all. It was a great organization indeed: both entering the venue and leaving it! The first show was longer than the second one. One of the reasons for that may be the fact that the  underground service lasted a bit longer on Saturday than on Sunday…. Also, Eric seemed to be in a rush on Sunday…. A friend of mine in the first row heard EC say to Jeff “I’ve gotta run, see you in NYC!” at the end of the encore!!In between the last show in London (Sun) and the first show at the MSG (Thu), EC found time to play 3 songs with Yoko Ono at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York on Tuesday as a part of her 77th birthday celebration.

Beck and Clapton played separate sets and then together for an eight song exploration. EC is on tape saying “I’ve always considered Jeff Beck to be one of the finest guitar players around. He’s a friend, a great guy, and a truly gifted musician. We had such a fun time in Japan that it seemed natural to play together again.” Not only their guitar playings are different but also their costumes too!! Both musicians wore the same clothes on both nights with Beck’s look not being my cup tea: dark glasses, a bicep-flashing cut-off jacket, a silver arm bracelet and tight trousers just seemed out of place to me. Clapton, as usual, was much more classic, in jacket and jeans and longish hair.

The O2 Arena, London, UK – February 13, 2010

Never been a Jeff Beck fan really. He is a gifted guitar player but I just find it difficult most of the time to find emotion in his playing… Still, I have to say I was impressed to see him live and his 45-minute performance did not leave me indifferent at all! His introspective set began with an agressive Stratus which was the first highlight of the night with some energetic guitar playing from Jeff and a terrific drum work from Mr. Walden. Led Boots sounds quite anarchical at times. Corpus Christi Carol is a song that appears on Jeff’s latest album “Emotion & Commotion” as does Hammerhead, a rocking song written by Jeff himself.

Mna Na h-Eireann means “Woman Of Ireland” in Irish. It is a song composed by Sean O’Riada that honours the memory of those women dedicated to Ireland and has been recorded dozens of times  over the years by artists such as Mike Oldfield, Sinead O’Connor and The Christians to name but a few. Sharon Corr on violin joins Jeff for a fantastic rendition of this folk song. A superbly sweet but way too short People Get Ready follows. These two songs give evidence of Beck’s most emotional playing of the night. Big Block is a world away fromPeople Get Ready but I find it easy to get used to his bluesy rythym.

At this point Jeff says “I’ve got it all going on here, boys!” and then introduces a barefoot, smiling and passionate too Joss Stone, who sings There’s No Other Me and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You, the same songs where she is a guest on the “Emotion & Commotion” album. Without doubt, my vote goes to the latter. Simply fantastic! To finish his set, Jeff chooses a live instrumental version of The Beatles’ A Day In The Life, the song that earned him his fifth Grammy Award at the beginning of 2010. After Beck’s set it took nearly 30 minutes to prepare the stage for Clapton.

After Beck’s electric pyrotechnics, it is a downer to see Clapton kick things off in unplugged mode. Still we are treated to one of the best acoustic versions of Driftin’ that I remember. A very dull Layla follows. EC plays a very short intro and that’s it! No guitar solo on this one but a keyboard one instead!! At this moment I remember myself wanting half of the ticket price back!!! Nobody Knows You does not help uplift things really. It may be a crowd pleaser but it does deserve a rest. Definitely. Running On Faith makes things get better. Much better. When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful is a Tin Pan Alley tune from the mid ’30s and is a song EC had never played either live or recorded in the studio. Not a song to shine on the guitar, I missed an introduction from Eric to this new song.

It took him 20+ minutes but EC finally moves to his Stratocaster for a great rendition of Tell the Truth. So strange to see him as the only guitar player  in the band, by the way!! His sound is thick and I like it a lot! Also, I got to love the vocal work by one the female singers when she sings “look into your heart” at the end of the second verse. Key To The Highway is OK but I think it just needs to be retired too. The keyboards reign here and you won’t hear the guitar god until the second half of the song. Sheriff is awesome and sees Eric’s best leads of the night. This song alone is worth the price of admission… twice!!! After that, Eric removes his jacket and rolls up his sleeves….. “Very promising!!” I thought. I couldn’t have been more wrong because the next song that followed is Wonderful Tonight! Cocaine is a highlight with an extended and very inspired solo on the first half. The second one, as usual, is left for the keyboards again. A great Crossroads closes Clapton’s set. He says “Thank you!” and “See you in a minute!” before leaving the stage and returning with Jeff Beck for their joint set.

After the very short break the pace is picked up again for the classic number Shake Your Money Maker. The next song is a hell of a surprise to me and a real highlight: Moon River, the theme song to the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s“!  Sung by Eric, Jeff Beck kept the main guitar work for him.

Eric sounds great on You Need Love and at times I believe he’s taken me back to the Cream days! Fate wanted that the next song to be performed would be a real Cream song!! Still Outside Woman Blues didn’t get the same effect on me as You Need Love did. It was a nice rendition anyway, with Eric’s solos fitting more than Beck’s, in my opinion. Little Brown Bird is the longest song of the set, clocking at 8+ minutes giving both guitarists the opportunity to trade licks in the final part of the song. Wee Wee Baby has got to be another highlight with solos from even both keyboardists too!! The cover of Sly Stone’s (I Want To Take You) Higher is simply fabulous and a terrific way to close the show, with Eric catching my attention more than Beck.

After a couple of minutes the band returns onstage and Jeff Beck makes it to the microphone to say “We’re gonna spoil a perfectly good evening now. It’s all Eric’s fault. I promise.” You can hear one guy near the taper predict what’s coming up next as he says  “Jeff’s gonna sing…Yeah!” The band performs Beck’s biggest solo hit Hi Ho Silver Lining with Beck singing the second verse much to the crowd delight!! No revisiting of Yardbirds songs (Jeff Beck told Rolling Stone that mentioning the word “Yardbirds” to EC turned him purple!!) but a very good set anyway!

Despite Clapton’s 25-minute acoustic set – which may be seen as a waste of time when you listen to what’s he’s able to do with his Stratocaster on Sheriff – I was glad to have flown to London for a show like this…. I enjoyed tonight’s gig a lot and the best thing of all is that I had another show in store!!!

The O2 Arena, London, UK – February 14, 2010

With the surprise factor having been diminshed, I can figure out what Jeff has in store for us tonight. Stratus is again a highlightand Jeff Beck introduces his new drummer Narada Michael Walken to the audience right after it. Led Boots is again too psychodelic for me and Corpus Christi Carol sees Jeff on his own accompanied by the orchestra and, like it happened last night, the audience finds it difficult to recognize when the song is over. I wonder what Hammerhead will sound like on the “Emotion & Commotion” album to be released this month, but in its live setting it gets a nice dimension with the help of the orchestra.

Sharon Corr collaborates again on the wonderful Mna Na h-Eireann. People Get Ready melts me and its only downside is its shortness, not even clocking at 2 minutes! Jeff leaves tranquility behind for the blaring sounds of  the powerful Big Block.

No Joss Stone tonight which is a real shame. Instead we get another song from the “Emotion & Commotion” album. Tonight is Imelda May’s turn on vocals. Her voice takes us back to 1950 on a fine orchestral interpretation of Lilac Wine that has grown on me. A Day In The Life is brilliant but Jeff has a surprise left as he delivers a superb account of Puccini’s classic song Nessun Dorma that leaves the crowd asking for more!

Like the previous night, once the stage is ready for Eric, the lights go down and Eric emerges from the darknness with his Martin acoustic guitar in hand and sits down to perform another great version of Driftin’. Probably due to time limitations Layla is dropped tonight. For a while I thought it might be played during the electric set, but unfortunately that did not happen…

Nobody Knows You is lifeless but Running On Faith is a heartfelt song that I enjoy greatly. When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful is played for the second and last time on tour. It would be replaced by I‘ve Got A Rock’n'Roll Heart on the US and Canadian dates to coincide with the promotion of the new Fender themed cellular device from T-Mobile: the limited “my Touch 3G Fender-Eric Clapton Edition“.

Tell The Truth sees EC flub a line just at the beginning of his solo. Last night’s keyboard intro to Key To The Highway is missing tonight. Sheriff is as immense as it can get and has to be again a show stealer with a very fluid lead guitar all throughout!! No Wonderful Tonight – EC seems to be in a hurry – and we get such a hell of a blues number as Little Queen Of Spades. EC acknowledges Chris Stainton and Walt Richmond after their respectives solos and then plays a great albeit short outro. EC shines on Cocaine, where both keyboardists also get a fair share of the spotlight on its second half. This closes Clapton’s 9-song set as Crossroads has been dropped from the setlist tonight.

Unlike last night, EC does not leave the stage tonight and Jeff joins him right after Cocaine. Clapton & Beck wrap up the night with the very same fun setlist. For me, highlights have got to be the delicious Moon River, with Beck playing the melody and Clapton singing, Little Brown Bird – always interesting with both guitarists soloing simultaneously – the stomping Wee Wee Baby and Hi Ho Silver Lining, one hell of a discovery for me that weekend!

Both nights are captured in excellent audience quality with slight crowd interferences in places and all six CDs are packed in a fatboy jewelcase with lots of pictures from the shows. So far Beano’s is the only silver release of these memorable, historical shows making it a very recommendable title to own.

 

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Eric Clapton - Two Gunslingers In The O2 (Beano-034), 2.9 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

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