Eric Clapton – Eye Of The Hurricane (Mid Valley MV 208/209)

Eye Of The Hurricane (MV 208/209)

RAH, London, UK – February 21, 1994

Disc1. Terraplane Blues – Come in My Kitchen – Malted Milk – How Long – Kidman Blues – County Jail – .44 – Standing Around Crying – Going Away – Blues All Day Long – Hoochie Coochie Man – It Hurts Me Too – Blues Before Sunrise – Someday After A While – Tore Down

Disc2. White Room – Badge – Wonderful Tonight – Stone Free – Circus Left Town – Tears in Heaven – Five Long Years – Crossroads – Groaning the Blues – Layla – Ain’t Nobody’s Business.

EC’s twelve show stint at the RAH took place in February / March 1994 and saw his 100th show there. The setlist featured a mix of blues standards as well as rock tunes.This is the prelude to EC’s switching to all blues mode as he would perform a solo acoustic concert at New York’s Lincoln Center in May to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation and later in the year, EC would enter the studio to record “From The Cradle”, an all-blues album to feature blues standards by his heroes. “From The Cradle” would be released in September, and after that EC hit the road playing all-blues shows around the world, including a number of club dates in the States in November. This blues tour would continue through 1995.

“Eye Of The Hurricane” captures EC’s second night at the Albert run in an excellent audience sound considering the venue. A very long setlist at 26 songs, clearly benefited from the first part of the show full of blues numbers.

As it always happens to me, I love EC playing the blues so much that I can’t see any downside there! Disc1 is a pure joy to listen to, from the opening acoustic numbers that at this time missed “Motherless Child”, to the rushing versions of “Someday After A While” and “Tore Down”.

After 53 minutes of a blues only treatment, EC changes from blues to rock and we have to change from Disc1 to Disc2. A nice synchronization indeed. EC plays a great solo on “White Room” but then “Badge” sees him flubbing a line. “Wonderful Tonight” is outstanding, with a great guitar work from EC and stunning vocals from Katie Kissoon. Next song we get is a rare performance of Jimi Hendrix’s “Stone Free”, which EC had recorded for a Hendrix tribute album in 1993. With “Circus Left Town” and “Tears In Heaven” EC takes us to a more intimate atmosphere. The rest of the show is again a mix of electric blues numbers and rock songs. The highlights have got to be “Groaning The Blues”, “Layla” – featuring a fantastic solo and a beautiful coda with the help of The Kick Horns (Simon Clarke, Roddy Lorimer, Tim Sanders) – and “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”.

This is another great release on the Mid Valley label that even comes with a mini tour programme replica. Please note that the artwork mislabels the catalogue numbers for this release as MV 204/205. Their real numbers being 208/209.

With the setlist being a middle ground between the rock shows of earlier years and blues-only shows of the following tour “Eye Of The Hurricane” makes for an interesting, assorted listening in one of the best audience sound qualities you are likely to get from the Albert. Recommended.

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