Eric Clapton – Seoul 1st Night (Heart Breakers – HB 927 1/2)

Seoul 1st Night (Heart Breakers HB 927 1/2)

Olympic Gymnasium, Seoul, South Korea – October 9th, 1997

Disc 1 (52:23): Layla, Change The World, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, Tears In Heaven, Going Down Slow, Broken Hearted, Pilgrim, Sick And Tired, I Shot The Sheriff

Disc 2 (53:45):  Wonderful Tonight, I’m Tore Down, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Tearing Us Apart, Cocaine, Old Love, Everyday I Have the Blues, Before You Accuse Me

For Eric Clapton, much of 1997 was spent working on a new album (what would eventually be released as Pilgrim, his first studio alum of original material in nine years) and the TDF project Retail Therapy (credited as “x-sample”). An eleven date jazz tour with Marcus Miller, Steve Gadd, Joe Sample and David Sanborn hit the major European jazz festivals in July. At the end of the year, Eric travelled to the far east to debut his new material in the live arena.

The first stop was two shows at the Olympic Gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea on October 9th and October 10th.  Both shows were released in a four disc set on Heart Breaker EC is Red Hot (Heart breakers HB 927/928 – 4).  The same tape sources were also given individual releases. 

Seoul 1st Night contains the first night, October 9th.  The audience recording is a bit distant and rumbly in the bass.  The audience are generally very quiet but they do clap along during the heavy blues numbers.  Despite the limitations, it is quite enjoyable and captures Clapton’s first show in South Korea very well.

Clapton opens with several acoustic numbers.  “Layla” is played in its “Unplugged” arrangement.  He follows with “Change The World” from the Phenomena soundtrack.  He had won three Grammy Awards for this song including Record Of The Year in February (and it would eventually included on the RIAA list of greatest songs of the 20th Century).

After “Tears In Heaven” he tells the audience that “We’re going to do some new songs for you … Seoul … and I look forward to buying them tomorrow morning.”  Four songs, “Going Down Slow,” “Broken Hearted,” “Pilgrim” and “Sick And Tired” from Pilgrim make their live debuts. 

They are received politely but without enthusiasm.  Since this was his first visit to  Seoul the audience were hungry for the classics.  Also, playing new and unreleased songs is always a big risk.  “Going Down Slow” and the title track are particularly effective live pieces.  But the audience erupt when he starts “I Shot The Sheriff.”

A rousing version of “I’m Tore Down,” the only song from the From The Cradle project still in the set, segues seamlessly into “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.”  The BB King cover “Everyday I Got The Blues” owes more to 1940’s swing than to blues.  Clapton introduces the band as they play on in endless fervor. 

Two solid minutes of clapping (the taper didn’t pause his recorder and the label didn’t edit this out) and they come out for one encore, “Before You Accuse Me.”

Seoul 1st Night is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with several photographs from the era.  Heartbreaker are noted for their basic yet effective art design.  This is a good title to have if not interested in having the four disc set with both Seoul concerts.  This is definitely the better sounding and more interesting of the two and is worth checking out for the premier of the rarely played Pilgrim songs. 

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