Happy Easter (Mid Valley 253/4/5/6)
The Ahoy, Rotterdam, Holland – April 11 & 12, 2004
Discs 1&3. Let it Rain – Hoochie Coochie Man – Bell Bottom Blues – I Shot the Sheriff – Milkcow’s Calf Blues – When You Got a Good Friend – They’re Red Hot – Kind Hearted Woman Blues – Got to Get Better in a Little While – I Want a Little Girl
Disc2. Change the World – Have You Ever Loved a Woman – Badge – Wonderful Tonight – Layla – Cocaine – Sunshine of Your Love – Got My Mojo Working.
Disc4. Change the World – Have You Ever Loved a Woman – Badge – Wonderful Tonight – Layla – Cocaine – Sunshine of Your Love – Got My Mojo Working – When You Got A Good Friend* – Little Queen Of Spades* – Reconsider Baby*
It is true that I have a soft spot for EC’s European Tour of 2004 but even if I didn’t have it, my review of this release would still be the same. The fact that EC would rescue songs like “Let It Rain”, “Walk Out In The Rain” (not played in Rotterdam) and above all “Got To Get Better”, really marked me. I was fortunate enough to catch him on his opening night of the Tour in Barcelona and I still smile when I remember that show.
Mid Valley delivers (again) an astonishing 4CD set featuring the two of EC’s shows in Holland in 2004. The sound quality is an absolutely first class audience on both nights and the taper must have been familiar to the venue for a long time, really knowing where to locate himself/herself.
Setlist is identical on both nights but the surfacing of some old songs from 30+ years ago as well as the performance of blues songs from his then new album “Me & Mr. Johnson” really makes up for it. “Let It Rain” is a fantastic opener for the show that sees EC on electric guitar right from the start!! EC wishes “Happy Easter!” to the audience after it on the first night. This song had not been heard live since the 80’s and is really like a breath of fresh air. I have to admit I find it difficult to get used to the backing vocals on “Hoochie Coochie Man” (they sound silly to me in a blues song) but the band executes it so weel that I can’t help loving this blues classic. “Bell Bottom Blues” benefits from being electric and “Sheriff” will always be a crowd pleaser as long as EC plays those fantastic outros. The central section of tracks from the Robert Johnson tribute album is fabulous and gives Bramhall chances to shine from the solid “Milkcow” and the nice grooves of “When You Got A Good Friend” and “They’re Red Hot” to “Kindhearted Woman”, skillfully soloed by EC.
The highlight for me have to be “Got to Get Better” – the funkiest track of all and one that I believed to be “She’s Gone” when first played in Barcelona, because it was SO unlikely that EC would perform that song again….. “Got To Get Better” showcases the talents of EC and Bramhall superbly. EC screws up the first verse on the first night but then delivers some outstanding solos that you will believe to be unbeatable….. until you listen to the following night’s rendition!! “Change The World” sounds better to me that it has never sounded before and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” is always passion, great singing and unbelievable guitar work from the man.
The last part of the shows still feature a ‘greatest hits’ package comprising “Badge”, “Wonderful Tonight”, “Layla” and “Cocaine”. For the encores Robert Randolph joins EC to enhance ‘Sunshine of your Love’. The closing track ‘Got my Mojo Working’ is a real foot-stomper that must get everyone in the house asking for more.
Bonus tracks at the end of Disc4 feature the three songs EC performed at the “One Generation 4 Another” concert in aid of the Lord’s Taverner’s Charity at London’s Royal Albert Hall on March 15, 2004. The house band was Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings and EC joined them for “When You Got a Good Friend” (performed as during the 2003 Japan Tour), “Little Queen of Spades” and an uptempo version of “Reconsider Baby“. EC was sporting his brand new graffiti guitar “Crashocaster III” which would be his main live instrument over the next few months prior to being auctioned in the summer of 2004 to raise funds for Crossroads. These bonus tracks are stunning audience recordings and musically speaking they fit well on disc4.
“Happy Easter” is highly recommended and an essential title to own.