Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert 1973

Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert is the famous comeback gig at the Rainbow Theatre in London with Eric Clapton and his friends (The Palpitations) from January 13, 1973.

After recording the exceptional studio album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, Eric Clapton’s addiction to heroin overwhelmed him. Fortunately his friends led by Pete Townshend from The Who brought him back from the brink.

This album was originally only 34 minutes with six songs and if that’s the album you know, you need to take a second look. It has been extended by more than double and now features 14 songs including a live electric version of Layla.

Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert – overall rating 23/30

Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert

Set List – 9/10

The original version of Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert featured the following songs – Badge, Roll It Over, Presence of the Lord, Pearly Queen, After Midnight, Little Wing.

Whilst it was good to hear Eric Clapton make his comeback, the album was distinctly underwhelming although it was nice to have live versions of the classic Clapton songs Badge (from his days with Cream) and Presence Of The Lord (from Blind Faith).

In 1995 the album was remastered and extended and this is the much more comprehensive version we have now:

  1. Layla – 6:25 (from Derek and the Dominos Layla album)
  2. Badge – 3:18 (from Badge by Cream)
  3. Blues Power – 6:03 (from Eric Clapton’s first solo album called Eric Clapton)
  4. Roll It Over – 4:38
  5. Little Wing – 4:36  (from Derek and the Dominos Layla album)
  6. Bottle Of Red Wine – 3:51 (from Eric Clapton’s first solo album called Eric Clapton)
  7. After Midnight – 4:25 (from Eric Clapton’s first solo album called Eric Clapton)
  8. Bell Bottom Blues – 6:25 (from Derek and the Dominos Layla album)
  9. Presence Of The Lord – 5:18 (from the Blind Faith album)
  10. Tell The Truth – 6:04 (from Derek and the Dominos Layla album)
  11. Pearly Queen – 4:55 (Steve Windwood song from the Traffic album)
  12. Key To The Highway – 5:46 (from Derek and the Dominos Layla album)
  13. Let It Rain – 7:46 (from Eric Clapton’s first solo album called Eric Clapton)
  14. Crossroads – 4:19 (the classic Cream cover of the Robert Johnson song)

This is a terrific summary of Eric Clapton’s career to date pulling songs from Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominos and his first studio album.

Performance – 7/10

The Palpitations were an all star backing group with three lead guitarists – Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend and Ronnie Wood (of The Faces and later to join The Rolling Stones).

As a result, they were under-rehearsed and not as tight as you’d expect from a touring band. I suspect that there were also issues with egos.

Here are the Palpitations:

  • Pete Townshend – guitar & vocals
  • Ronnie Wood – guitar & vocals
  • Ric Grech – bass guitar
  • Steve Winwood – keyboards & vocals
  • Jim Capaldi – drums & vocals
  • Jimmy Karstein – drums
  • Rebop Kwaku Baah – percussion

As you’d expect, this is a guitar heavy album which lacks much subtlety.

Atmosphere & Authenticity – 7/10

The recordings have been pulled together from an early and late show on the same day.

There is talk that the remastered version has been severely edited in places. For example Roll It Over and Little Wing each lose about two minutes each in the remastering process. That does make you wonder what has happened to the previously unreleased tracks where we don’t have a comparison.

This is a slice of history. The event was never repeated at other venues which makes it great to have. My problem is where this fits into Eric Clapton’s career. It’s a final blues rock flurry of being a guitar super hero.

Eric Clapton’s later albums moved from blues rock to both classic rock and pop (think Lay Down Sally and Wonderful Tonight) or to more to a purer blues sound.

If you want Eric Clapton the guitar God, I think you’re likely to turn to the live albums by Derek and the Dominos and Cream. If you want Eric Clapton the classic rock star, Just One Night is the place to go. For Eric Clapton, the bluesman, Unplugged or 24 Nights are better.

Overall rating for Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert – 23/30

This is a very interesting album to hear and it does have a rare electric version of Layla. It stands up better on its own than in comparison with the other Eric Clapton live albums.

It has a terrific set list and a lively, if under-rehearsed performance.

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