Eric Clapton – RAH 1994 2nd Night (Beano-059)

RAH 1994 2nd Night (Beano-059)

Royal Albert Hall, London, UK – February 21st, 1994

Disc 1 (73:26):  Opening Announcement, Terraplane Blues, Come On In My Kitchen, Malted Milk, How Long Blues, 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, White Room, Badge, Wonderful Tonight

Disc 2 (53:44):  Stone Free, Circus Left Town, Tears In Heaven, Five Long Years, Tearing Us Apart, Crossroads, Groanin’ The Blues, Layla, Ain’t Nobody’s Business

Eric Clapton brought his blues revue to the stage in February 1993 with shows at the Royal Albert Hall and later in the year with dates in Japan.  But by the following year he altered the structure of the show slightly.  Instead of playing “nothing but the blues” he attempted a “blended” setlist which incorporated the blues numbers, some of his old hits, and selections from the “Unplugged” set from 1992. 

This set lasted only for the thirteen Royal Albert Hall shows in 1994.  He abandoned this idea by the time played at the T.J. Martell Foundation Benefit in Avery Fisher Hall in New York on May 2nd.

The second night at the Royal Albert Hall in February 1994 is a popular recording from the era.  Sourced from an excellent DAT audience tape, it first appeared on Back Again 1994 (RAH Music CD-001/002), on RAH 1994 (EC1994 – 4), RAH 1994 (Masterport 168) and Royal Albert Hall 1994 (Dead Brain Productions EC1994).  A one disc version with only the blues covers appears on Me And The Devil (Man 010).

Mid Valley released an excellent edition on Eye of the Hurricane (MVR 204/205) with stellar sound quality in 2003.  RAH 1994 2nd Night on Beano utilizes the same recording as the others.  Unlike most of their releases, where they attempt to keep remastering down to a minimum and try to achieve a “natural sound,” they really tweaked this tape hard to make it stand out from the others. 

Beano boosted the volume and tried to center the stereo more to the center (instead of the right channel bias in past releases).  They also increased the top end to make it sound very sharp.  It sounds nice, but the audience applause between songs sounds a bit too crisp, sounding like a flock of birds.  It’s very unnatural sounding, and makes me wonder if the gain was worth this effect.

At the start, Clapton walks on stage and makes an announcement, telling the audience “I’m just gonna play some old blues stuff and then some things from the sixties and moving along.  I won’t do much talking … ’cause I don’t know what to say.  I hope you enjoy it, I’m gonna do my best to enjoy it and I hope we succeed.”

Three songs by Robert Johnson, “Terraplane Blues,” “Come On In My Kitchen” and “Malted Milk” open the evening.  After the third Clapton sheepishly says “it’s his fault, if you ask me.”

He’s joined onstage by his band, Andy Fairweather Low, Chris Stainton, Dave Bronze on bass, Richie Hayward on drums, Jerry Portnoy on harmonica, backing vocals by Katie Kissoon and Maggie Ryder, and with The Kick Horns with Simon Clarke (baritone saxophone), Roddy Lorimer (trumpet) and Tim Sanders (tenor saxophone).

The next hour is a run through of the blues classics including “County Jail,” the supremely ugly “.44 Blues,” and “It Hurts Me Too” featuring great drums by Hayward.  “Blues Before Sunrise” is another standout performance.  “Tore Down” is the final blues song before the trio of older classics “White Room,” “Badge” and “Wonderful Tonight.”  

This disc is unique in that it features a rare live performance of Jimi Hendrix’s “Stone Free,” which Eric had recorded for Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix, a Hendrix tribute album in 1993.  From the “Unplugged” tour in 1992 come the two introspective acoustic numbers, “Circus Left Town” and “Tears In Heaven.”  Chris Stainton plays a different keyboard arrangement than Chuck Leavell, favoring a more mellow pop melody. 

“Tearing Us Apart” includes The Kick Horns in the arrangement.  The loud trumpets make the song sound much more exciting than usual (as if that were needed).  “Crossroads” is played in an arrangement similar to “Willie And The Hand Jive” (and “Get Ready”) from the 1974 US tour with hints of the familiar Cream melody. 

After “Groanin’ The Blues” and “Layla” they play “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” as the only encore. 

RAH 1994 2nd Night is a good Beano title.  It’s not too clear if their work on the tape is a benefit or not, and it’s also not clear if this is an improvement over the Mid Valley release of 2003.

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