Red Rocks (Slunky 16A/B)
Red Rocks Amphitheater, Denver, CO – July 11th, 1985
Disc 1 (58:08): Tulsa Time, Motherless Children, I Shot the Sheriff, Same Old Blues, Tangled In Love, White Room, Steppin’ Out, Wonderful Tonight, She’s Waiting, She Loves You
Disc 2 (49:34): Badge, Let it Rain, Double Trouble, Cocaine, Layla, Forever Man, Further On Up the Road
Eric Clapton had been on the road promoting his latest album Behind The Sun since April, including a five week break in June. Two shows were scheduled at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, a venue he first visited almost two years to the day on the Money & Cigarettes tour in 1983. The first was on June 11th. After this concert he would travel to Philadelphia for a three song set at Live Aid on July 13th, then return for the second Denver show on July 14th before proceeding to Los Angeles for three shows.
Red Rocks on Slunky documents the July 11th show utilizing a very good but flat audience tape. No cuts are present in any of the songs but there are tape flips after “White Room” and “Cocaine.”
Some have suggested that Live Aid was a comeback for Clapton. It may be, but it’s not a comment upon his skill or level of playing during this time, as if the shows up to the Philadelphia date were lackluster and the the ones after were stellar. However, the comeback speaks more about public perception and the acknowledgement that he’s still around and producing creative music and great concerts rather than any comment upon his ability.
Red Rocks, despite some sloppiness at the beginning during “Tulsa Time” and “Motherless Children,” is overall an excellent performance. It improves greatly with a tight version of “I Shot The Sheriff” which elicits great cheering from the crowd.
“Tangled In Love,” with the cheesy neon synthesizer sounds and dance beat, sounds terribly dated within the context of the show. The classics are played as they were written and arranged in the sixties and seventies, emphasizing the hard drums and unprocessed guitar sounds. The contrast with the new song is quiet startling.
“White Room” is “something from sixty-seven” and sounds magnificent in this recording. One can imagine the spectacle of hearing this with Red Rocks as a backdrop.
Clapton’s two female backing vocalists are given their own numbers in the middle of the set. Shaun Murphy asks the audience, “so you’ve been waiting around here since noon?” Her song “Stepping Out” raises the energy level.
“Wonderful Tonight” and the excellent “She’s Waiting” are followed by Marcy Levy’s cover of The Beatles’ “She Loves You.” It is one of the few missteps made and the results are disastrous. Halfway through the audience grow restless and agitated. “She’s…not so good” one of the critics by the tape recorder opines as he sips on his beer and lets out a loud cheer when she’s done singing.
“Badge” is a huge improvement for the audience as they cheer along. The old Cream track segues into “Let It Rain.” On this tour Clapton alters the melody a bit and Chris Stainton rips out an amazingly hot Hammond organ solo in the middle.
“Layla,” complete with piano coda, closes the set. After some cheering (and a cut in the tape), the band return for “Forever Man.” It was the first single from the album and hit number one in April 1985. The catchy melody is great, and, unlike “Tangled In Love,” does not sound dated at all.
While playing the melody for “Further On Up The Road” Clapton introduces the band. A long, eight minute jam on the old Bobby Bland number with all the members, including Murphy and Levy, taking their turns in the spotlight closes the night.
Slunky were one of the better Clapton devoted labels operating in the early part of the last decade and produced many very good titles worth having. The artwork is tastefully done with many photographs from the tour. Red Rocks isn’t the best show from the era, but has many very good points and the sound is definitely listenable.