The Sheriff’s Residence (Godfather Records GR401/402)
Royal Albert Hall, London, UK – May 23, 2009
Disc1 (65:25). Going Down Slow – Key to the Highway – Old Love – Anything For Your Love – I Shot the Sheriff – Layla – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down & Out – Not Dark Yet – Anytime For You – Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Disc2 (57:00). Badge – Little Queen of Spades – Before You Accuse Me – Wonderful Tonight – Cocaine – Crossroads – Everything’s Gonna Be All Right (bonus track from May 20)
The Sheriff’s Residence documents the sixth of the eleven shows Clapton played at the Royal Albert Hall. Godfather use an excellent, clear and dynamic audience tape of the entire show which is up to the same high standards as the other tapes to emerge from this series of shows. The pattern of the set pretty much remained the same but with minor variations over the various concerts.
The blues classic “Going Down Slow,” a song that has a tremendous role in live rock, opens the show but in a funky, R&B arrangement. Its smoothness belies the urban Chicago roots of the piece. “Old Love” is the first of several long improvisatory pieces of the night. This version is interesting for the inclusion of “Sunshine Of Your Love” played on the electric piano by Tim Carman to good effect in the middle and is followed by “Anything For Your Love.” This is one of the few songs from Journeyman (“Old Love” and “Before You Accuse Me” being the others) to have a long stay in Clapton’s live repertoire.
It is one his heaviest tracks and its performances in all of the Royal Albert Hall shows are highlights, but especially so on this night where it outshines most everything else in the first half of the set. The follwoing “I Shot The Sheriff” had a good bass solo in the middle. “Layla” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” form a two song acoustic interlude and is followed by Clapton’s cover of Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet.” This would be dropped in subsequent performances, but it is interesting that he chooses a latter day Dylan song to cover.
The first disc ends with “Over The Rainbow” (aka “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”). Written Harold Arlen for Judy Garland to sing in The Wizard Of Oz, he’s played the song before live and even included it on the live album One More Car, One More Rider. It’s inclusion sounds completely out of place in the set and really makes Clapton sound old compared to the other songs.
The rest of the show is very strong. “Little Queen Of Spades” is the other long improvisatory piece of the night. An expanded “Cocaine” ends the set with several interesting solo in the middle described by reviewers as sounding very original, emphasizing the wah-wah throughout. “Crossroads” is the only encore performed at this show. Godfather includes as a bonus track “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” from the May 20th show. This was played in the set in lieu of “Not Dark Yet” in about half of the RAH concerts and is included for completeness’ sake. The label use several photographs from the show on the inside cover of the gatefold sleeve. The eleven shows are all documented in great sounding tapes and most of them now are released in excellent silver editions. The Sheriff’s Residence is an impressive Clapton release on Godfather worth having.