Eric Clapton – Season! 2 (Mid Valley MVR 482 – 485)
Kurhaus-Bowling Green, Wiesbaden, Germany – August 19, 2008
Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland – August 20, 2008
Disc 1. Tell The Truth – Key To The Highway – Hoochie Coochie Man – Here But I’m Gone – Outside Woman Blues – Little Wing – Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad – Driftin’ – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out – Motherless Child – Travelling Riverside Blues – Running On Faith
Disc 2. Got To Get Better In A Little While – Little Queen Of Spades – Before You Accuse Me – Wonderful Tonight – Layla – Cocaine – Crossroads
Disc 3. Tell The Truth – Key To The Highway – Hoochie Coochie Man – Here But I’m Gone – Outside Woman Blues – Isn’t It A Pity – Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad – Help Me – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out – Motherless Child – Travelling Riverside Blues – Running On Faith
Disc 4. Got To Get Better In A Little While – Little Queen Of Spades – Before You Accuse Me – Wonderful Tonight – Layla – Cocaine – Crossroads (w/ Jakob Dylan)
“Season! 2” features EC’s 24th and 25th shows of his Summer Tour, which started in Tampa Bay, FL on May 3rd and would finish in Monte-Carlo, Monaco on August 23rd. The band for these final dates of the tour comprises Doyle Bramhall II (guitar, backing vocals), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Willie Weeks (bass), Abe Laboriel Jr. (drums) and Michelle John & Sharon White (backing vocals).
Like the gig at the Malahide Castle in Dublin earlier on the tour – and featured on the first volume of “Season!” also on MVR – the show in Wiesbaden was another outdoor gig but this time there were not power failures to distract you from the performance, which was absolutely phenomenal by the way! Probably one of the best from the entire tour.
Tell The Truth is great and after hearing Doyle and EC you know this may be a special gig! Key To The Highway sounds much more like it used to sound in the Dominos’ days and is a world away from the acoustic opener it useed to be back in 2001. I do appreciate to see (lazy) EC approaching songs in different ways these days. Still, no rendition of this song may surpass the one EC&Buddy Guy delivered at Ronnie Scott’s in London back in October 1987….
Hoochie Coochie Man is more extended than it was in 2004 now featuring solos from Doyle and Chris. Having listened to this song live more than a hundred times, I have to admit I have got used to the backing vocals on this by now… Here But I’m Gone was a love at first listen on “Season!”. The rendition of it in Wiesbaden was once again absolutely brilliant. EC and Doyle share both vocal & guitar duties and the result is spectacular. It is, without doubt, one of the highlights of the night. The next song to be performed is Outside Woman Blues and its only problem is that it is sandwiched between Here But I’m Gone and Little Wing….. EC’s solo on the outro is great but is soon forgotten….The performance of Little Wing is outstanding and has got to leave you speechless. EC keeps the vocals for himself this time but he shares the lead guitar with Doyle, who does a flawless job. The only downside about Little Wing is that it replaces Isn’t It A Pity on the setlist… and that is indeed a pity!!
Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad sees a great interplay between EC and Doyle and gives way to the acoustic set. Some people near the taper can barely be heard talking during Driftin’ and Nobody Knows You. Motherless Child is a favourite of mine if only for EC’s singing the verses “Well, I did more for you girl / than your daddy ever done / Yes, I did more for you girl / than your daddy ever done”. EC credits Barbecue Bob after the song and also Robert Johnson before Travelling Riverside Blues. Running On Faith closes both the acoustic set and Disc1 with EC on acoustic guitar and Doyle on electric.
For the first time on the tour, Got To Get Better returns to the setlist replacing Motherless Children. What made EC make a change on the setlist at this stage of the tour only God knows!! EC delivers a very solid solo on the first half of the song and with no bass solo from Willie Weeks, Doyle closes the song with no help at all from EC. Shorter than it was back in 2006 but still clocking at 12 minutes, Little Queen Of Spades remains as the blues centerpiece of the night. Doyle and EC take their turns on Before You Accuse Me while Chris seamlessly fills out the sound with a great work on the piano.
With a very short drum intro, Wonderful Tonight is just 4 minutes long and features the most similar arrangement to the original in many many years. Layla features another solid solo from EC but it may be lacking some of the passion that I found on any of the other shows from the Summer Tour that I have listened to so far (Nottingham, Hyde Park, Cork, Dublin…). Cocaine closes the show letting EC, Doyle and Chris all shine on their instruments. The Crossroads in Wiesbaden is one of the best renditions of this song that I have listened to in a long long time, featuring some stunning guitar work from EC and Doyle.
Next day’s show in Zurich may not be as strong but gives you the opportunity to listen to a new rendition of Here But I’m Gone which has nothing to envy to the performance of the previous night. Curtis Mayfield is credited at the end of the song. EC flubs a line on his solo on Outside Woman Blues before embarking on George Harrison’s beautiful Isn’t It A Pity. The only downside about it is that it replaces Little Wing on the setlist… and that is indeed a pity again!! The passionate Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad features a wonderful outro with another great interplay between Doyle and EC and with a little help from Chris on the keyboards they all come together with a very subtle, intimate ending.
The acoustic set brings us a very nice surprise: no Driftin’, no Rockin’ Chair, no Rock Me Baby tonight…. Another old blues number sees its debut on EC’s Summer Tour’s setlist: Help Me, which was written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Sonny Boy Williamson. It must be one of the highlights of the acoustic set with the permission of Travellin’ Riverside Blues, which sees a great vocal work from EC and Running On Faith with a beautiful acoustic solo by EC. Also, how much I do love EC singing the “Love, love comes over you” verses right before Doyle takes off on the outro, only God knows!!
Got To Get Better is played again for the second time on the tour. EC plays the first solo and after that uselessly tries to make drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. take a solo. The solo is finally taken by Willie Weeks thus continuing the tradition of the 2006/2007 tours before Doyle throws in a short but blistering solo. Little Queen of Spades helps to relax the atmosphere and lets Chris, Doyle and EC – who steals the song with his – all play extensive solos.
Layla is played with more passion and intensity than the night before and undoubtedly gets my vote. Cocaine shows how good a keyboard player Chris Stainton is and it is a good closing to the show.
Jakob Dylan, who was the support artist for some of the gigs on this leg of the tour, joins EC for the encore Crossroads. The first verses are sung by Jakob and the final one is shared by Jakob and EC himself.
“Season! 2” features two excellent audience recordings and some songs that can’t be found on any other previous release from this Summer Tour. Also, the fact that the performances are above par can’t make me anything but seriously recommend you this 4CD set.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)