Eric Clapton – The Last Pilgrim (Beano-046)

The Last Pilgrim (Beano-046)

Messehalle, Hannover, Germany – December 11th, 1998

Disc 1 (67:56):  Opening, My Father’s Eyes, Pilgrim, One Chance, River Of Tears, Going Down Slow, Guitar Intro., She’s Gone, Early In The Morning, Tears In Heaven, Layla, Guitar & Vocal Improvisation, Change The World

Disc 2 (58:09):  Old Love, Crossroads, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Wonderful Tonight, Cocaine, Guitar Intro., Before You Accuse Me

The release of Pilgrim, his first full album of new material in nine years, necessitated a world tour.  The previous year was occupied with the RAH concerts and Legends Jazz shows with the “Change The World” excursion to Japan (debuting songs from the new album).  

In 1998, after the March release of Pilgrim, Clapton toured the US several times and toured Europe by the end of the year.  The European tour ended with two shows in Hannover, Germany, on December 10th and December 11th.  These were the first German concerts since the From The Cradle tour in 1995.

Two middling audience tapes had been the only record of the final Pilgrim show, and none of them appeared on silver boot before.  The Last Pilgrim debuts a new tape source.  It is much better than the older tapes.  The taper was quite close to the action and was able to produce a dynamic, atmospheric recording of the final Pilgrim show.

The basic structure of the show remains intact from the American and British shows.  The first hour is dominated by newer songs and the second with classics.  Unlike previous shows, the European dates did not have an orchestra and “Tearing Me Apart” is replaced by “Wonderful Tonight.”

Opening the show is the single from the new album “My Father’s Eyes.”  It sounds more gentle by the end of the tour than at the beginning.  The hip-hop beat sounds much more subtle and enjoyable. The heavy “She’s Gone” is treated with an introductory guitar improvisation.

The middle mellow acoustic set in the show starts off with “Early In The Morning.”  This track was played in the two Hannover shows.  In previous concerts he played “Driftin’ Blues” or “Blues Leave Me Alone” in this slot.  A short “Unplugged” sequence with “Tears In Heaven” and the rearranged “Layla” following. 

There is a short, exalted instrumental before “Change The World,” the final “new” song of the set.  It is the Grammy Award Winner in 1997 from the film Phenomena and also the first collaboration with Babyface which lead to the production of Pilgrim.  

“Old Love” begins the second half of the show.  The thirteen minute long epic begins softly before developing into the familiar melody.  After Clapton’s solo, Tim Carmon on keyboards takes the rest of the song.  Starting off on cocktail piano, he turns into an intense jazz-fusion extravaganza.

“Crossroads” follows and segues directly into the slower, more intense “Have You Ever Loved A Woman?”  The show ends with “Cocaine” which features more keyboard doodling by Carmon in the middle. Jimmie Vaughan & The Tilt A Whirl Band, the opening act, join the band onstage for the only encore “Before You Accuse Me.”

The Last Pilgrim wouldn’t actually be the final show from the era featuring this setlist because Clapton would tour Japan in November 1999 with a setlist similar to this (several Pilgrim songs mixed with classics including songs from the From The Cradle tour earlier in the decade). Beano released this along with many other Clapton titles, but it is the only one to focus upon this fascinating era.  

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