The Complete ARMS Concert (no label)
Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA – December 2nd, 1983
PRO-SHOT COLOUR NTSC Approx. 159min.
Eric Clapton 1. Introduction; 2. Everybody Ought To Make A Change; 3. Lay Down Sally; 4. Wonderful Tonight; 5. Rita Mae; 6. Sad, Sad Day; 7. Have You Ever Loved A Woman; 8. Ramblin’ On My Mind; 9. Cocaine; 10. Don’t Talk To Me (with Joe Cocker); 11. Watching The River Flow (with Joe Cocker); 12. Worried Life Blues (with Joe Cocker); 13. You Are So Beautiful (with Joe Cocker); 14. Seven Days (with Joe Cocker); 15. Feelin’ Alright (with Joe Cocker)
Jeff Beck 16. Star Cycle; 17. The Pump; 18. Definitely Maybe; 19. Blue Wind; 20. People Get Ready; 21. Going Down
Jimmy Page 22. Prelude; 23. Who’s To Blame (with Paul Rodgers); 24. City Sirens (with Paul Rodgers); 25. Boogie Mama (with Paul Rodgers); 26. Midnight Moonlight (with Paul Rodgers)
Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck 27. Stairway To Heaven; 28. Layla 29. With A Little Help From My Friends (with Joe Cocker); 30. Good Night Irene (with Ronnie Lane)
The ARMS Charity Concert (or concerts) was a rock event held at the Royal Albert Hall in September 1983 in support of Action into Research for Multiple Sclerosis (ARMS). The idea for hosting the concert was envisaged by Ronnie Lane, ex-bassist for The Small Faces and The Faces, himself a casualty of multiple sclerosis. The concert featured a star-studded line-up of well known British musicians, including Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Steve Winwood, Andy Fairweather-Low, Bill Wyman, Kenney Jones and Charlie Watts. The concert was particularly notable in the fact that it was the first occasion on which Clapton, Beck and Page, each a former lead guitarist for The Yardbirds, had performed together on stage. The concerts proved so popular with both the audience and the musicians that the decision was taken to perform a further nine concerts in the USA. (The above intro is an modified excerpt from Wikapedia)
The concert on this DVD is the complete December 2nd show from the Cow Palace in San Francisco and comes in a standard single DVD plastic clamshell case with nice color artwork.The main menu plays a looping clip of the shows last song, “Good Night Irene”, and has options to either access a submenu, which has a looping Jeff Beck clip, for individual song selection or to start the video.
The video is a multicamera proshot affair with the quality about VG which looks to be a several generations removed from the master. The picture has a subtle grain to it and there is a slight loss of facial detail on the medium camera shots. The color is very solid with no bleeding but is slightly washed out. You can see occasional white specs and scratches but these are not distracting and there is a barely visible VCR tracking mark at the bottom of the screen. The background black level is very good so this video is resonably close to the master and the loss of definition could also be a result of cramming a 159 minute video on a single layer DVD disc which lowers the transfer bit rate significantly. All in all the video quality is above average and makes for a very nice watching experience.
The audio on the other hand is the weak link on this release. The sound is reasonably clear but suffers from compression and a muted high end which renders it very dull. The mix is also lacking and the guitars, and especially the vocals, can get buried in the mix which steals some of the power from the performances.
The performances are the star of this release as the allstar band is very tight and every performance is very good with many highlights.
The show starts with Billy Graham in the middle of his band introduction for Eric Claptons set which flows into a very nice version of “Everybody Ought To Make a Change”. Eric looks great and is very relaxed. He does some great versions of his solo standards but the highlight of his set for me was the blues numbers Sad,Sad Boy/Have You Ever Loved Women”. He plays some really crisp solos on those numbers and his vocals are excellent. The numbers with Joe Cocker are good but the mix buries Joe’s vocals which saps the power out of the performance. Joe also seems to be struggling a little with his voice which appears to be a little hoarse, if you can believe that, and he appears to have trouble hitting the high notes. “Feelin Allright” is a highlight but it is a shame the vocals are so low in the mix.
Jeff Beck follows Clapton and he seems a little tentative on the first several numbers as if he is feeling out the band. Jan Hammer picks up the slack on the solos and his strap on synthesizer is prominant in the mix. Jeff seems to come around by the third song of the set “Blue Wind” and runs off some classic solos. The highlight of the set is a rocking version of “Going Down” where Jeff really gets into it and lets it rip.
The stage goes dark after Becks set and when the lights come on Jimmy Page is onstage wihich causes the crowd to go crazy. Jimmy is in great spirits but in all honesty he is looking very frail and is skinny as a rail. Jimmy plays the same setlist as during the Dallas ARMS shows, see GS’s earlier cd review, and starts off with three songs from the Death Wish II soundtrack. Initially Jimmy is playing a black Fender Telecaster and it is evident from the start that he is struggling with his chops as his playing is sluggish and he fingers seem sticky. His best playing of his set comes during “Midnight Moonlight” where he is seated and playing his Danlectro with Paul Rodgers on vocals. He seems to be getting warmed up and his playing is more fluid then on the earlier songs.
After a short break the lights come back up and we see Jimmy with his famous Gibson double neck on and we are treated to a very good instrumental version of “Stairway to Heaven”. His playing is much improved on this song but he still seems to struggle a little with some of the more complex parts. Clapton and Beck join the song after the fanfare section first playing rhythm to Jimmy’s soloing and then trading solos towards the end of the song. For me this was the highlight of the night even if Jimmy was a little off. Next up the complete band with all three ex-Yardbird guitarists blast into a fast version of Layla. It is a great version with the only downside being that Beck and Page’s guitars get buried in the mix which makes it very hard to hear their solo spots. After Layla the whole band jump into “With A Little Help From My Friends” With Joe Cocker on Lead Vocals. Again the mix kills the power of the song with Joe’s vocals buried in the wall of sound. The final song of the night is a fun version of “Good Night Irene sung by Ronnie Lane with the complete band befor ethe final bow to end the show.
Despite the audio deficiencies, the excellent performances and the chance to see Beck, Clapton and Page on the same stage make this a must have for all fans and it is therefore highly recommended.