Eric Clapton – Saitama Super Arena Night 1 (ARMS 152/153 PR)

Saitama Super Arena Night 1 (ARMS 152/153 PR)
Saitama, Japan – February 21, 2009

Disc 1. The Pump – You Never Know – Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers – Stratus – Angel – Led Boots – Goodbye Pork Pie Hat / Brush With The  Blues – Tal’s Solo with Jeff – Blue Wind – A Day In The Life – Peter Gunn Theme – Driftin’ Blues – Layla – Motherless Child – Running On Faith
Disc 2. Tell The Truth – Little Queen Of Spades – Before You Accuse Me – Cocaine – Crossroads – 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.


Jeff Beck’s Japan Tour of 2009 consisted of 9 shows which would start in Tokyo on February 6th and finish in Osaka on February 19th. Two more dates were added as EC happened to be touring Japan at the time as well. These would be the first gigs that would see EC & JB appear together in their musical careers on a double-bill of this nature. The most expensive tickets for any of EC’s regular shows of this tour in Japan used to go for 11,000 JPY. Top tickets for these two special shows in Saitama went on sale for 17,000 JPY.

I will admit I am not familiar with most of his stuff but it is no secret that Jeff Beck is one of the most innovative guitar players in the world.  His range of styles is wide, easily changing from hard rock to funk, blues or jazz to name a few. Jeff Beck is backed by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and well-known keyboardist David Sancious, who is temporarily replacing Jason Rebello. With just instrumental songs on the setlist, Jeff uses the microphone just to introduce the band members before the encore.

The Pump opens the show. It is a song that Beck already played at the ARMS Charity Shows back in 1983 and I am glad to revisit it again. You Never Know is a funky tune, quite a strong one by the way, but for me one of the standouts of the night in Beck’s setlist has got to be ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers which features a great bass solo that gets a well-deserved ovation from the audience and also sees a nice mixture of technique and feeling in Jeff’s guitar playing. Angel is a sweet song that I didn’t find it difficult to listen to. It is just the opposite to Led Boots, which gets to accelerate me in a way I am just not used to. No offense but not my cup of tea. Definitely.

Goodbye Pork Pie Hat is a bluesy and slow song that is more than welcome at this point. Blue Wind is kind of a rollercoaster for me, with parts that I like and some other parts that I at all don’t. At this point I realise that having listened to so much EC stuff over the years makes it difficult for me to open my ears to new sounds….  Beck’s cover of the Lennon-McCartney’s tune A Day In The Life is absolutely beautiful and has got to be my favourite song of all. After the band is introduced, only one number is performed at the encore: Henry Mancini’s famous Peter Gunn Theme.

The tape now fades out and fades in with EC saying “Konbawa” to the audience. As if he was right in the middle of any of his regular shows, EC plays an acoustic mini set of 4 songs, the real surprise being Layla a la unplugged style, not having been performed this way never before on the tour. Not a decision I particularly like since I think we had our share of acoustic Layla’s in the 90’s…. Still the rendition is a good one. EC’s electric set is shortened to just 5 songs, the highlights being Tell The Truth and Cocaine. Crossroads is the usual encore and with this the second part of the show is gone before EC says “Domo arigato! Thank you! See you in a munute!!!”.

The tape fades out and in again for the final segment. The joint set consists of the classic You Need Love and a searing rendition of Listen Here / Compared To What sung by Doyle Bramhall II. Here But I’m Gone is EC’s territory but Jeff will steal Outside Woman Blues with a great solo. Brown Bird, Wee Wee Baby and Want To Take You Higher are the perfect closers and both EC and Jeff shine on them. It is interesting to see how different Jeff Beck’s and EC’s styles are. Their sets are a whole world away from each other, but their joint set fits both of them perfectly and is a pleasure to listen to.

This show is of historical importance – you can tell from the massive number of different titles released. both from official and unofficial labels. ARMS used an excellent tape for “Saitama Super Night 1” and just edited out the different intermissions that took place between acts to fit the recording into a 2CD set.

Less expensive and more widely available than other titles, this release is an excellent opportunity to own this show in silver format. Recommended.

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