Delta Queen (Tarantura TCDEC-37-1, 2)
Trent FM Arena, Nottingham, England – June 23rd, 2008
Disc 1: Tell The Truth, Key To The Highway, Hoochie Coochie Man, Here But I’m Gone (Curtis Mayfield), Outside Woman Blues, Double Trouble, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, Midnight Hour Blues (Leroy Carr), Rockin’ Chair, Motherless Child, Travellin’ Riverside Blues, Running On Faith
Disc 2: Motherless Children, Little Queen Of Spade, Before You Accuse Me, Wonderful Tonight, Layla, Cocaine, Encore: Got My Mojo Working (With Robert Randolph)
As a part of his Summer Tour of 2008, EC played 5 dates in Ireland / England last June. “Delta Queen” is an excellent audience recording of EC’s show in Nottingham, the third one of them. The band now consists of Chris Stainton (keyboards), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar/vocals), Willie Weeks (bass), Abe Laboriel Jr (drums) and Michelle John and Sharon White (backing vocals).
The setlist is similar to the setlist featured on the previous US / Canadian, with just a few changes having been incorporated. EC opened the show with a very lively version of the Dominos’ classic Tell the Truth with the usual over-abundant guitar work both by EC and Doyle Bramhall II. Key To The Highway and Hoochie Coochie Man feature usual arrangements as well….. and it’s the fourth song the one that brings the first surprise of the night: Curtis Mayfield’s Here But I’m Gone, a song I’d never heard before but is a personal favourite now! Just great vocals and a great guitar work, with nothing else to distract you, make this song a joy to listen to.
Outside Woman Blues is performed well, but it becomes soon forgotten by the time EC attacks his Stratocaster to play Double Trouble. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad sees EC flubbing a line on his first solo but makes up for that with a nice guitar work on the outro. Then, just when you expect Driftin’ as the opener to the acoustic set, the second surprise of the night arises: Midnight Hour Blues, an old blues number by the great Leroy Carr now revived by EC. Rockin’ Chair‘s sound reminds me a lot of the Reptile album and fits well right before Motherless Child, which now has an electric feel that I find nice. Travellin’ Riverside Blues is introduced as a Robert Johnson song and makes you realize the acoustic set is near the end…. Running On Faith closes Disc1 and features a first solo that is shared by EC on acoustic mode and Chris Stainton on the keyboards. The second, final solo is electrically reserved for Doyle and is, as usual, great to listen to.
Motherless Children sees both EC and Doyle playing brilliant slide dual solos and a great work from Abe Laboriel Jr. on the drums too!! Little Queen Of Spades, shorter than other times at “just” 10 minutes, still has room for extended solos from Chris Stainton, Doyle and EC himself, of course. Before You Accuse Me is half long but yet still another showcase for them. On the Wonderful Tonight subject I will just say that it is correctly performed and played at its natural pace. EC plays a great crescendo solo on Layla, which also features a nice coda with the help of Chris and Doyle once again. Cocaine, which I think should be rearranged and performed the way it was performed in the late 70’s, closes the show. Got My Mojo Working is the encore and sees a nice interplay between EC, Doyle and Robert Randolph who joins the band for that.
This Nottingham show has also been released by the Mid Valley label under the title “Never Hide”. Whether the same source tape was used for both releases or not is a mystery for me at this time so if you can give me any clue on that will be highly appreciated!!
“Delta Queen” features some performances of rare songs which make it a release that is worth having.