Missing Night (Tricone 037/038/039/040)
Eric Clapton’s tour of Japan in 1981 was a minor comeback of sorts. After having almost the entire US tour cancelled, the extent of live activities were the Secret Policeman’s Other Ball, a few weeks in Scandinavia and this tour. The tour opened on November 27th in Niigata and Tricone released a nice recording of that show on Perpetual Black.
Missing Night on Tricone presents new tapes for the second and third nights, in Nagoya and Osaka. Older tapes already circulate but had never been pressed on silver before, so Tricone are the first label to release these shows from any source. This label has been releasing very good and comprehensive multi-show sets. And all have filled a considerable need.
Specific comments about each tape will be mentioned below, but in general the sound quality for the two are good but not great. These are also two of the strangest shows from the era. The setlists for these two shows are identical. The title track from the new album Another Ticket” is the only new song. “Blow Wind Blow” would be added for the December 3rd show in Fukuoka, the night after Osaka. Gary Brooker and Albert Lee are each given a solo number in the middle of the show, a practice Clapton had since the mid-seventies tours with Yvonne Elliman, Marcy Levy and others.
Koseinenkin Kaikan, Aichi, Japan – November 30th, 1981
Disc 1 (43:31): Tulsa Time, Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, After Midnight, I Shot The Sheriff, A Whiter Shade Of Pale, Setting Me Up
Disc 2 (77:35): Another Ticket, Blues Power, Badge, Motherless Children, Ramblin’ On My Mind / Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Cocaine, Layla, member introduction, Further On Up The Road. Bonus tracks from a different source: Layla, member introduction, Further On Up The Road
Nagoya is a fair to good sounding recording. It was taped a distance away from the stage and it lacks significant dynamics in the mix. The vocals are loud and tend to dominate everything else. There are times, such as during “Motherless Children,” when the sound becomes muffled and diffcult to listen to. There is a cut after “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” with some deterioration and flutter after the cut before the sound becomes more stable.
The second night in Japan is before a very quiet Nagoya audience in a relatively small venue. The set starts off with two mid tempo shuffles “Tulsa Time” and “Lay Down Sally” before a slow paced “Wonderful Tonight.”
Very early on a very loud and drunk America heckles Clapton. He makes comments after the applause dies down after almost every song. Some of his comments are very clearly heard on tape, like after “I Shot The Sheriff” when he tells Clapton to get his finger out of his ass and play British blues.
Since this guy never shuts up, Clapton is rattled and delivers a lackluster show. During “Blues Power,” for example, Clapton doesn’t even bother soloing much but lets Chris Stainton have as much time as he wants to play his keyboards.
The worst part comes in “Layla.” At four minutes in Clapton’s guitar slips out of tune and his solo in completely demolished. It’s not just a bum note here and there, but he seems to loose any hope in rescuing the song and his pointless noodling is hopeless. He tries to make amends in the encore of “Further On Up The Road,” but by this point the spirit has left the entire band and they get off as soon as possible.
Disc two ends with several bonus tracks, “Layla,” the member introduction and “Further On Up The Road” from an alternate audience tape. This recording is much closer to the stage and is borderline excellent. And thanks to the song selection we’re able to hear the ruined “Layla” in glorious stereo. Perhaps someday this tape source will surface complete, but this show is such a complete disaster that it’s left merely for the curious.
Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – December 1st, 1981
Disc 3 (40:39): Tulsa Time, Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, After Midnight, I Shot The Sheriff, A Whiter Shade Of Pale, Setting Me Up
Disc 4 (62:11): Another Ticket, Blues Power, Badge, Motherless Children, Ramblin’ On My Mind / Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Cocaine, Layla, member introduction, Further On Up The Road
The tape for the December 1st show in Osaka is much better than the Nagoya recording. It’s much closer to the stage with more detail and liveliness. It’s also a much better performance. The audience are quiet and respectful, singing and clapping along at the appropriate times but there are no hecklers to ruin the fun for everyone.
Clapton’s performance starts off with tentative versions of “Tulsa Time” and “Lay Down Sally.” But by “After Midnight” things improve dramatically and he adds a very incendiary guitar solo in the middle of the piece. Brooker singing “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” is received very warmly by Osaka and afterwards says: “we’d like to feature the world’s top country guitarist, Albert Lee” for Lee’s solo number “Setting Me Up.”
“Another Ticket” is a gentle piece in the middle of the show and sounds like a rewrite of “Wonderful Tonight.” Before “Blues Power” Clapton announces that the drummer is not wearing any underwear for some odd reason. This must be some inside joke which is lost on the audience. There is more merriment on stage before “Badge” but, without a visual record, are lost in the recording.
The long “Ramblin’ On My Mind” and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” jam features very emotional blues explorations in the middle. Throughout the evening Brooker adds synthesized trumpet punctuations which add excitement to the piece.
The audience singing along to “Cocaine” and the show ends with a much improved version of “Layla.” After the band is introduced they end with the single encore “Further On Up The Road.”
Overall Missing Night is another quality release from Tricone. The sound quality of these tapes are not up to the 1983 and 1985 tapes they’ve debuted over the past couple months, but are more than acceptable given the age. The quality of the shows is another issue one has to deal with. Nagoya is a disaster but Osaka is a very enjoyable concert with excellent playing. Tricone use a dramatic photograph for the front cover and use very common photos for the rear and inserts.