FUCT / Change The World (Tarantura TCDEC-29-1,2)
National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, UK – October 13, 1998
Disc 1. My Father’s Eyes – Pilgrim – One Chance – River of Tears – Going Down Slow – She’s Gone – Driftin’ – Tears In Heaven – Layla – Change the World
Disc 2. Old Love – Crossroads – Have You Ever Loved a Woman – I Shot the Sheriff – Wonderful Tonight – Cocaine – Before You Accuse Me (w/ Bonnie Raitt)
Tarantura claims “FUCT” to be an “uncirculated show” as stated on the back cover but this may be wrong as this date is listed on some collectors’ lists. Then you may think Tarantura really meant “uncirculated recording” but then again I have been able to see this same source somewhere else. I was able to find out because Tarantura even states the lineage of the source tape until it found its way onto “FUCT” and is as follows: Master DAT (2nd Row Centre Stage) [remastered by e-domino] > DA-20mkII > CD-R. Anyway, this is a show I didn’t have and being an excellent audience recording I am glad to have it in silver form.
“FUCT” brings us the opening night of the UK/European “Pilgrim” Tour. I remember having a ticket for this show that I had to sell a couple of weeks before the date of the event as I had not been able to score a flight to the England at a reasonable price. EC and his 9 band members are accompanied by a 20 piece orchestra conducted by Nick Ingman. Also, if memory serves me this tour of 1998 would be EC’s last tour to see him sharing the stage with two other guitarists (Andy Fairweather-Low and Alan Darby) until the 2006/07 Tour when he would be joined by Doyle Bramhall II and Derek Trucks.
EC opens the show with six songs from the “Pilgrim” album. “My Father’s Eyes” although well played and a good vehicle for EC to warm up, is very similar to the recorded version and in my opinion, an entire world away from the 1992 arrangement, my favourite one – no doubt about it. “Pilgrim” takes things a little bit further and by “One Chance” EC is decided not to hold anything back. I just have to love EC repeatedly singing the verse “You may never have another chance” before he throws in a blistering guitar solo. “River Of Tears” features another great solo and is far much better than the recorded version. “Going Down Slow” is presented as a “reworking of an old blues song” and “She’s Gone” is a fantastic excuse for a guitar duel between EC and Alan Darby. At this point EC embarks on a short acoustic set to perform Driftin’ Blues (solo) and then “Tears In Heaven”, “Layla” (great intro by EC included but no guitar solo and kwyboard solo by Kenneth Crouch instead) and “Change The World”. This acoustic numbers are the most benefited ones from the presence of the orchestra, giving them a full, richer sound.
A lengthy rendition of “Old Love” features one of the best guitar solos of the night from EC and I wish Alan Darby had taken his turn for the second part of the song but the solo there is left for Tim Carmon / Kenneth Crouch on the keyboards. A short but solid “Crossroads” with a great Alan Darby on slide guitar in the background ends and with no warning gives way to “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” – the last one of the blues numbers of the night – in a much slower tempo. Whether I prefer EC’s vocal performance or his guitar work on this song, I still don’t know as both of them are phenomenal. “Sheriff” does not let you down and the outro is always a pleasure to listen to. “Wonderful Tonight” is another song that does benefit from the orchestra, giving it a warmer feel. “Cocaine” wraps up the show and Alan Darby finally takes the solo he could not take on “Old Love”.
Bonnie Raitt joins EC for the encore for a splendid “Before You Accuse Me”. Bonnie Raitt would do so for the rest of the Tour even performing rarer, more obscure songs like, for example, “So Many Roads” which would be played just one week later in Frankfurt.
This is an excellent release of an excellent show and is definitely worth having.
PD: A little explanation on the title of this release. FUCT is a Japanese fashion label, and is one of Clapton’s favourites or at least, it was at that time. This 2CD set comes with a 8-page booklet featuring pictures from the show where EC can be seen wearing a T-shirt reading the words “fuct”.