Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood – Live From Madison Square Garden (2009)

FrontCover1.jpgLive from Madison Square Garden is a 2 CD/2 DVD live album by Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood which was released on 19 May 2009 by Duck / Reprise Records. The album is made up of recordings from Clapton and Winwood’s performances at Madison Square Garden in February 2008. It is Eric Clapton’s ninth live album and Steve Winwood’s first live album as a solo artist.

The duo performed songs from their time in the band Blind Faith as well as selections from Traffic, Derek and the Dominos, Clapton’s and Winwood’s solo careers and some rock and blues covers. Their band consisted of Willie Weeks on bass, Ian Thomas on drums and Chris Stainton on keyboards.

Winwood and Clapton first crossed musical paths as members of the one-off group Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse in March 1966. They recorded songs issued on the Elektra Records compilation album What’s Shaking. Later they teamed up again in 1969 with the formation of Blind Faith, shortly after Clapton had left Cream. Blind Faith pioneered the fusion of rock and blues into tremendous studio and stage success. Despite critical and popular acclaim, the band was short-lived with only one album and a brief 1969 tour that debuted 12 July at Madison Square Garden and ended 24 August in Hawaii. Since then, Winwood and Clapton have remained friends but had only performed together a few times over the years; an occasional song at a charity event.

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In 1998, they both appeared in the movie Blues Brothers 2000 as members of the fictional blues group, the Louisiana Gator Boys (Willie Weeks was also a member). During Clapton’s 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival, Clapton and Winwood played six songs together including a few Blind Faith songs. After that successful experience, the two decided to collaborate again. The 2008 Madison Square Garden shows were the first full Winwood-Clapton concerts in almost 40 years.

The night before Buddy Miles died, a friend called him on his cell phone so he could hear Winwood and Clapton perform his best known song “Them Changes”. When they found out the next day that Miles had died, they dedicated the performance of the song to him.

On 11 February 2009, the pair announced a 14-city US tour that kicked off on 10 June 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. They were joined on stage by Chris Stainton (keyboards), Willie Weeks (bass), Abe Laboriel, Jr. (drums), as well as backing vocalists Sharon White and Michelle John.

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Live from Madison Square Garden was recorded from 25 to 28 February. The shows were recorded and mixed by James Towler, while the production was handled by James Pluta, John McDermott, and Scooter Weintraub with executive production by John Beug, Michael Eaton, Peter Jackson, and Tom Whalley. Most of the production staff were also involved in the recordings for Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festivals.

The art direction for the album and DVD was Ellen Wakayama with the design handled by Donny Phillips of the Tehachapi hardcore bands The Warriors and Machines, and photography by Danny Clinch. Phillips is one of the lead graphic designers at Warner Bros. Records, which the other two people mentioned also work for. The artwork was based on the taijitu, although the colours on the packaging were red and blue instead of black and white. (by wikipedia)

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Eric Clapton’s new millennium has largely been defined by collaborations with friends, beginning with a duet album with B.B. King following through with a Cream reunion and closing with tours with his former Blind Faith running mate, Steve Winwood. Clapton and Winwood did three concerts together at Madison Square Garden in February 2008 and the results were fruitful enough to spawn this double-disc album — along with its accompanying DVD set — and a moderately scaled 2009 tour. Live from Madison Square Garden culls 21 highlights from those three nights and spreads them over two discs, sequencing the songs so Traffic numbers alternate with selections from Blind Faith, Derek & the Dominos, blues standards, a handful of Clapton’s hits, and a heavy dose of Hendrix, who has no less than three songs here. That extended salute to Jimi is a good indication of the vibe here — this is a genuine shared co-billing with Clapton and Winwood trading vocals and solos almost equally.

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There’s not much ego here and not much hunger, either, with the two stars sliding into a relaxed groove that yields plenty of rewards. There’s a comfortable touch to their playing that’s greatly appealing, and the straightforward setting places the spotlight directly on their interplay. Clapton and Winwood might roll easy but they can still create some sparks, sometimes in unexpected places, such as the somewhat forgotten ’80s hits “Forever Man” and “Split Decision,” both which are highlights here. Ultimately, this isn’t an album of moments, but rather a sustained whole that finds Clapton and Winwood egging each other on to produce a wholly satisfying, if not quite surprising, reunion. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

Oh yes … this was a night, two legends came out to play !

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Personnel:
Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals)
Chris Stainton (keyboards)
Ian Thomas (drums)
Willie Weeks (bass)
Steve Winwood (keyboards guitar, vocals)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Had To Cry Today (Winwood) 7.47
02. Low Down (Cale) 4.10
03. Them Changes (Miles) 5.10
04. Forever Man (Williams) 3.33
05. Sleeping In The Ground (Myers) 4.50
06. Presence Of The Lord (Clapton) 5.23
07. Glad (Winwood) 4.13
08. Well All Right (Allison/Holly/Mauldin/Petty) 5.35
09. Double Trouble (Rush) 8.06
10. Pearly Queen (Capaldi/Winwood) 6.10
11. Tell The Truth (Clapton/Whitlock) 6.42
12. No Face, No Name, No Number (Capaldi/Winwood) 4.09

CD 2:
01. After Midnight (Cale) 4.45
02. Split Decision (Walsh/Winwood) 6.25
03. Rambling On My Mind (Clapton only) (Johnson) 4.01
04. Georgia On My Mind (Winwood only) (Carmichael/Gorrell) 5.05
05. Little Wing (Hendrix) 6.42
06. Voodoo Chile (Hendrix) 16.23
07. Can’t Find My Way Home (Winwood) 5.33
08. Dear Mr. Fantasy (Capaldi/Winwood/Wood) 7.41
09. Cocaine (Cale) 6.41

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