Eric Clapton – Four Piece Warm-Ups (Beano 029)

Four Piece Warm Ups (Beano-029)
City Hall, Sheffield, UK – January 16, 1989
City Hall, Newcastle, UK – January 17, 1989

Disc1. Opening – Crossroads – White Room – I Shot The Sheriff – After Midnight – Wonderful Tonight – Wanna Make Love To You – Bell Bottom Blues – Can’t Find My Way Home – Forever Man.

Disc2. Same Old Blues – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – Tearing Us Apart – Band Intro – Cocaine – Remark You Made – Layla – Easy Lover – Behind The Mask – Sunshine Of Your Love.

Disc3. Opening – Crossroads – White Room – I Shot The Sheriff – Bell Bottom Blues – Wanna Make Love To You – Wonderful Tonight – After Midnight – Can’t Find My Way Home – Forever Man.

Disc4. Same Old Blues – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – Tearing Us Apart – Band Intro – Cocaine – Remark You Made – Layla – Easy Lover – Behind The Mask – Sunshine Of Your Love.

1989 marks EC’s third residency at the RAH. A total of 12 shows are performed – a record that would be broken in 1990 and yet again in 1991. The setlist is rather static, but the performances are quite good and they include rare performances of After Midnight, Wanna Make Love To You and Forever Man.

As the title indicates, Four Piece Warm Ups gives evidence of the first two shows that EC plays prior to his RAH run. A third warm up gig took place in Edinburgh, Scotland but this is not included. There is a release called “Rough An’ Ready” on the Masterport label that features all these 3 shows but the quality is much poorer.

EC is on tape saying he’s always loved quartets and these shows clearly show that. Backed by Phil Collins on drums, Greg Phillinganes on keyboards and Nathan East on bass, EC plays a mixture of blues, rock and pop. The shows open and close with three Cream numbers that are very well known to any average Clapton fan having been outplayed just by Layla from the late 80’s up to now. My favourites have got to be  Crossroads from the first night, White Room – both nights – and Sunshine Of Your Love from the first night too.

The radio-friendly hits such as the Sheriffs – long at eight minutes – and the rearranged After Midnights are true show stealers. But my favourite song is Wanna Make Love To You. What excellent two renditions of this we get!!  EC’s vocals are passionate and the guitar is so powerful. EC used to introduce this song as a new one from his upcoming album during his 1986 Tour of Europe, although the song never made it on the August album. 20+ years later I’m still trying to understand that. Forever Man is a rock song from the Behind The Sun album that had not been played live since the 1985 Tour. It is a great addition to the setlist as it features a fiery guitar outro.

Being sandwiched amongst so many hard-edged guitar works, Wonderful Tonight, Bell Bottom Blues and Can’t Find My Way Home sound weak to me and are the least interesting tracks on Discs 1&3.

Discs 2&4 begin with Same Old Blues, a 20-minute marathon of solos by EC, Nathan East and Greg Phillinganes. Not my cup of tea – I prefer the original arrangement – but I was able not to skip a single second of it.  A very polished, quiet Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door follows. EC hits the same note quite a few times on the solo on the first night, and that gets my vote. Tearing Us Apart is a rocker and must have had the audiences on their feet both in Sheffield and Newcastle. The best Cocaine, with a great solo by EC, is played on the first night. There is a slight problem with the Newcastle tape at one point on the solo on Layla but I can live with it.

With three songs, the encores are strangely long and consist of a couple of pop songs – Phil Collins’ Easy Lover and Behind The Mask which is well received by the crowds – and five minute versions of Sunshine Of Your Love – a world away from what they would last just one year later.

Beano used two very good tapes for this release. Both of them sound very similar with EC’s voice being a little bit distant at times, but the instruments always being very clear. There is some tape hiss but this is most noticed on the quietest passages only (i.e. Remark You Made). Overally speaking, Four Piece Warm Ups is a release not to be overlooked.

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