Eric Clapton – Le Zenith (Blackie 07/08)

Le Zenith (Blackie 07/08)

Le Zenith, Paris, France – January 18, 1987

Disc1. Crossroads – White Room –  I Shot the Sheriff – Hung Up On Your Love – Wonderful Tonight – Miss You – Same Old Blues – Tearing Us Apart – Holy Mother
Disc2. Badge – Let It Rain – Cocaine – Layla – Money For Nothing  – Sunshine of Your Love – Further On Up The Road

This gig took place on the day of my 14th birthday when I still was unaware of the existence of EC. Also the fact that Paris used to be the closest EC would get from Spain while touring from 1983 until 1995 adds another anecdote for me on this recording.

EC spent quite a few years touring with similar material and this is something easy to see if you take a look for example at the very first three tracks on this release and the first three tracks on “Four Piece 1989” – another import on the Blackie label covering a show that would take place two years after. In fact, nine of the sixteen tracks on “Le Zenith” can be found on “Four Piece 1989”. Needless to say, the performances are quite different and so are the lineups (on this occasion featuring Mark Knopfler on guitar), but as for the material used, one can’t help thinking how lazy EC used to be.

The show opens with some classics – Crossroads, White Room and a great rendition of Sheriff – before EC plays four tracks from his then new album “August” with “Wonderful Tonight” and “Same Old Blues” in between. “Hung Up On Your Love”, “Miss You”, “Tearing Us Apart” and “Holy Mother” are all welcomed by the audience and after listening to them it’s easy to understand why. MK plays great rythm guitar and EC plays fiery solos accompanied by great vocals, particularly on “Miss You”. “Same Old Blues” would probably be 15+ minutes long but for some reason fades out before reaching the tenth minute, making this recording musically incomplete. Fortunately “Holy Mother” is captured in its entirety and gives you the opportunity to listen to a great outro by EC.

“Badge” is the first track on disc2 and features a nice extended intro by MK and EC. It is followed by “Let It Rain” and “Cocaine” but it is “Layla” that has to get my vote because it sees EC playing a great aggressive solo and then sees MK playing lead on the coda before EC joins him to add some beautiful lines…

MK’s “Money For Nothing” is the first song on the encore much to the crowd’s pleasure. “Sunshine” and “Further On Up The Road” wrap up the show, the latter featuring a nice interplay between EC and MK.

This 1987 Tour is so well documented – lots of soundboard recordings exist – that being just a good audience recording for the era (and even incomplete) I guess this is just best left for completists…. if that makes sense ;-)

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