Compared To What (no label)
Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan – February 22nd, 2009
Disc 1: (53:05): The Pump, You Never Know, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Stratus, Angel, Led Boots, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Brush With The Blues, Bass Solo, A Day In The Life, Big Block, Where Were You, Peter Gunn Theme
Disc 2: (55:01): Driftin’, Layla, Motherless Child, Running On Faith, Tell The Truth, Key To The Highway, I Shot The Sheriff, Wonderful Tonight, Cocaine, Crossroads
-Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck-
Disc 3: (48:09): You Need Love, Listen Here～Compared To What, Here But I’m Gone, Outside Woman Blues, Brown Bird, Wee Wee Baby, Want To Take You Higher
For two nights in Saitama in February Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck teamed up and, as Rolling Stone magazine mentions in the January 5th issue, “The duo have performed together at album sessions, benefits and festivals in years past, but these concerts mark the first time the pair have ever shared the bill for major arena shows.” Compared To What is a three disc set with the entire show in amazing, near professional sound quality from a DAT recorder. The first disc documents Jeff Beck’s set, the second Eric Clapton’s, and the third with Beck joining Clapton’s band onstage.
Beck begins his set with plodding and surreal “The Pump” followed by “You Never Know” and “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” in quick succession. His performance of “Angel” is tremendous and is one of the highlights of the entire show. The bass solo in the set is an instrumental track lead by bassist Tal Wilkenfeld. One reviewer notes: “Tal starts it off while Jeff sneaks around behind her like a naughty schoolboy and plays the bass E string on the first 5 or 6 frets whilst she is soloing higher up the fret board on the other strings.” The instrumental segues into an instrumental interpretation of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life.” “Blue Wind,” which was played the previous night, is dropped in favor of “Big Block” and “Where Were You.”
Clapton begins his set with another version of “Driftin'” followed by the Unplugged acoustic version of “Layla.” “Little Queen Of Spades” and “Before You Accuse Me” are dropped in favor of ‘Key To The Highway,” “Wonderful Tonight” and a funky “I Shot The Sheriff.”
For the finale, a review on the Where’s Eric website makes pretty strong yet accurate statements. “The final three quarters of an hour of the show were without doubt one of the greatest moments of the rock concert history that the Japanese audience had ever witnessed – a hype turned true.
“With the emphasis more on the ensemble than the interplay, there were not so many “guitar battles” as was expected from some quarters, but both guitarists shared enough moments of the brilliance between them.
“As if Eric’s presence was a catalyst, Jeff returned to his blues / soul / r&b roots and found out his alter-ego. He bent, bent and then bent the strings, something he wouldn’t do as much on his usual performances; throwing blues licks one after another, blow by blow indeed. “Breathtaking” is the word that is apt to describe his solos tonight. No one will ever forget his bulldozing sonic assault in Brown Bird, the very instant he finished it, Eric called out, “Jeff Beck!” and the loud cheers erupted from the whole crowd that filled the arena. Tonight, Jeff was not so much the smart fusion / crossover guitar virtuoso, as we have recognized him for the last thirty years or so, as a tough blues-gut rocker that he was in the Sixties a la The Yardbirds and The Jeff Beck Group.
“In turn, Eric replied with an aggressive solo in the next tune, Wee Wee Baby. Oh yeah, together they took us higher!
“When the show was over, with the projected picture of the rising sun, the Japanese national flag waving in the wind, behind, all the musicians from both bands (eleven in all, including the Beck group who didn’t join the previous night) turned up and bowed to the audience who’d gone euphoric.
“Final words: a night to remember among nights to remember. Period.”