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Published: 2009/02/23

Clapton and Beck in Japan

Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck both emerged from the U.K. blues scene in the mid 60’s, with Beck succeeding Clapton as lead guitarist in the Yardbirds (Jimmy Page came third). Over the intervening years the two musicians have performed together only sparingly, however this situation changed over the weekend as Clapton and Beck brought their current touring bands to the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
These shows on Saturday and Sunday featured a set apiece by each group followed by a special set in which Beck joined Clapton’s band for seven songs. Beck opened the nights with his quartet, which featured Tal Wilkenfeld, Vinnie Colaiuta and David Sancious. Highlights included ‘The Pump’ opener, a version of ‘A Day In The Life’ and a sequence that featured just Wilkenfeld and Beck. Clapton’s group included guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, Willie Weeks on drums, Chris Stainton on keys, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and vocalists Michelle John and Sharon White. Clapton began his performance with a solo acoustic version of ‘Driftin’‘ followed by the ‘Unplugged’ version of ‘Layla.’ Electric standouts were staples ‘Tell The Truth,’ ‘Key To The Highway’ and closing runs from ‘Cocaine’ into ‘Crossroads.’
After a brief break, Clapton and his band returned with Beck in tow. The setlists were consistent from night to night as the group opened with a version of ‘You Need Love’ (written by Willie Dixon and popularized by Muddy Waters) and also offered up a take on ‘Little Brown Bird’ (the guitarists collaborated on these two songs for Beck’s forthcoming live DVD Performing This Week: Live at Ronnie Scott’s). Each evening also included ‘Listen Here – Compared To What,’ ‘Here But I’m Gone,’ ‘Outside Woman Blues,’ ‘Wee Wee Baby’ and a closing take on Sly & the Family Stone’s ‘Want To Take You Higher.’

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