Eric Clapton – Remarkable Milestone (no label)

Remarkable Milestone (no label)

Remarkable Milestone is another four disc set covering Eric Clapton’s engagement at the Royal Albert Hall in May.  Both of the tapes are excellent sounding albeit slightly distant from the stage.  And like Welcome Back, Andy and Roaming On The Highway, this is packaged in a four disc fatboy jewel case with many photographs from the actual shows on the artwork. 

The Royal Albert Hall, London, England – May 19th, 2009

Disc 1 (69:03):  Going Down Slow, Key To The Highway, Old Love, Anything For Your Love, I Shot The Sheriff, Layla, Lay Down Sally, Not Dark Yet, Anything For You, Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Disc 2 (49:49):  Badge, Little Queen Of Spades, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, Wonderful Tonight, Cocaine, celebration speech for Eric’s 150th solo concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Crossroads

The very clear and enjoyable audience recording for the May 19th concert is on discs one and two.  This is the third of eleven shows at the Royal Albert Hall.  The set begins, as all the shows do, with the cover “Going Down Slow” but jumbles the sequence a bit by playing “Key To The Highway,” “Old Love” and “Anything For Your Love” in that order. 

After “I Shot The Sheriff” they begin he long sit down acoustic set with the Unplugged version of “Layla” and the recently returned Andy Fairweather Low makes a mistake by continuing his solo when he should have ended it and the audience giggles and gives mock applause.  The cover of Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” is something he introduced to the stage for this tour.  It is a strange choice, especially since he follows it the twee “Anything For You” and the optimistic “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”  

By the latter half of the show both “Little Queen Of Spades” and “Cocaine” serve a vehicles for many long improvisations and solos to showcase the talent of Clapton’s backing band.  As one reviewer noted: 

“The last portion of the concert was highlighted by excellent keyboard and piano solos and an impressive guitar solo by Andy Fairweather Low … this brought a strong round of applause by the crowd. The only low point was a lackluster version of Wonderful Tonight (I have to agree with the Times reviewer here) that seemed rushed. That aside, the closing version of Cocaine was worth the price of admission. After the Crossroads encore, myself and those around me were clamoring for more but it was not to be. Eric accepted an award from the Royal Albert Hall for his 150th show and commented that he hoped for 150 more.”  

The Royal Albert Hall, London, England – May 22nd, 2009

Disc 3 (60:47):  Going Down Slow, Key To The Highway, Old Love, Anything For Your Love, I Shot The Sheriff, Three Little Girls, Layla, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, Not Dark Yet, Anytime For You, Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Disc 4 (49:07):  Badge, Little Queen Of Spades, Before You Accuse Me, Wonderful Tonight, Cocaine, Crossroads

The sound quality for the May 22nd Royal Albert Hall show is comparable to the May 19th tape.  It is slightly distant but very clear with a good live sound.  The sequence of the opening electric set, “Going Down Slow” to “I Shot The Sheriff” is the same as the other show. 

A song is added to the sit down set when Clapton plays “Three Little Girls” as an opener.  This is a tune featured on his 2006 The Road To Escondido with JJ Cale and is a nice surprise.  The acoustic “Layla” is received well by the audience, especially when Stainton plays his little organ solo in the middle.  “Not Dark Yet” sounds very close to Dylan’s original arrangement on Time Out Of Mind and although the words convey deep sentiment and edge is lost in the translation between Clapton’s clear baritone and Dylan’s rasp.      

The final third of the show is dominated by the long solos and improvisations by all the members of the band.  “Before You Accuse Me” replaces “Everything Is Going To Be Alright.”  Reading the reviews on the Eric Clapton sites like Where’s Eric? and have been unduly critical of these shows, calling them stale rehashes and and example of Clapton simply phoning in the performances. 

Such criticism overlooks the subtly of the performances and the stature of the performers.  All of the tapes that have surfaced from the Royal Albert Hall are of great quality and are worth having.   

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