Famed bluesman/rocker Eric Clapton has made quite the stir last year and this year with his outspoken comments on the about COVID-19 pandemic, even going so far as to work with fellow singer-songwriter Van Morrison to write a protest song about the matter in the form of ‘Stand and Deliver.’ He followed up that song this year with another song centered on the pandemic in the form of ‘This Has Gotta Stop.’ The song is a reference to the lockdown actions taken by governments the world over in what they have said were efforts to slow the virus’ spread. The pandemic also caused the cancellation of a series of live dates that he had scheduled to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London this past May. In lieu of those cancellations, Clapton instead retreated to the Cowdray House in West Sussex, England with friends and fellow musicians Steve Gadd (drums), Nathan East (bass) and Chris Stainton (keyboards) to record an intimate performance for audiences. The recording, dubbed The Lady in the Balcony, is scheduled for release Friday through Mercury Studios (formerly Eagle Rock Entertainment). It is a presentation that will appeal to the most devoted Clapton fans. That is due in part to its general presentation, which will be discussed shortly. The recording’s set list makes for its own interest and will be examined a little later. Considering the setting, the performance’s production is also important to examine, and will be later, too. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make The Lady in the Balcony a work that, again, Clapton’s most devoted audiences will find a great way to make up for the lack of live shows from the famed performer.
Eric Clapton’s forthcoming live recording, The Lady in the Balcony is a work that will appeal to plenty of fans of the famed veteran bluesman. Recorded lieu of his planned performances at the Royal Albert Hall early this year, the intimate performance is a nice change of pace from all of the livestream events that so many acts opted to host in place of their live shows. That is not to say that livestreams were not/are not a good option, just that it is nice to have something a little bit different. That very presentation sits at the base of the recording’s success. Instead of the band being in a studio made to look like a stage, Clapton and company instead sit in the comfort of a room at the Cowdray House in West Sussex, England to capture the performance. It is along the lines of the performance that Between The Buried and Me did in studio some years ago for one of its live recordings. It is just more intimate. What’s more, instead of trying to spice up the concert with any interviews, etc. between songs, those behind the recording instead opt for a more “natural” approach, showing footage of the countryside around the facility that looks like a castle. Audiences see the sun setting across the peaceful countryside, as well as the countryside itself. There is even a unique shot from outside the room where the recording was captured that looks into a window on the building. At some points throughout all of that, the group’s performance even plays over those calm visuals. As much as one might like to see and hear audiences in live recordings, there is something that is just as enjoyable here because it allows the group and the music to take center stage (no pun intended). On a related note, that increased focus on the group’s songs and performance allows for more appreciation for the talents of all involved. To that end, the general presentation here forms a strong foundation for The Lady in the Balcony and gives the noted audiences reason enough in itself to watch this recording. It is just a part of what makes the recording noteworthy, too. The songs featured in the performance are of their own interest.
The set list featured in The Lady in the Balcony is of interest because of its makeup. For the most part, the set list is composed of covers that Clapton has recorded and performed over the years. The covers in question have also played a key role in his fame. Among the covers featured in the set list are those of artists and composers, such as Jimmie Cox (‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out’), Muddy Waters (‘Bad Boy’) and Derek and the Dominos (‘Layla’ and ‘Bell Bottom Blues’). The originals are kept to an extreme minimum here with intimate acoustic performances of ‘Believe in Life’ and ‘Going Down Slow.’ Between the songs noted here and the others featured in the set, the whole of the 17-song collection makes for its own interest. When this is considered along with the concert’s general presentation, the two items show even more why the recording in whole will appeal to the noted audiences. Even with that in mind, there is still one more item to examine in the recording. It comes in the form of the performance’s production.
Going back to the intimate setting for The Lady in the Balcony, the setting raises reason for audiences to note the recording’s production. The quartet gathers in one room to record each song together. Seeing the size of the room, one can argue that it is about the size of a typical rehearsing space away from a studio. That means that extra emphasis had to be paid to the room’s acoustics so as to keep the ground from drowning itself out. Thankfully, Clapton’s longtime Grammy®-winning producer and friend Russ Titelman’s attention to that detail throughout paid off. Even in simple moments in which just one of the musicians is performing, the size of the room does not allow for the sound to echo and wash itself out. Everything is expertly balanced throughout each song. The result is that the performance’s sound is just as laudable as its general presentation and set list. All things considered, the recording proves itself an enjoyable concert experience for the majority of Eric Clapton’s fans.
Eric Clapton’s forthcoming “live” recording, The Lady in the Balcony, is a unique presentation from the veteran singer-songwriter. That is proven from start to end of the recording. The general presentation is partly to credit for its appeal. That is because instead of trying to get all artsy (which easily could have happened) those behind the presentation instead opted for a more appealing, literally natural approach throughout. It makes the general presentation engaging and entertaining in its own right. The set list is interesting in its own right because of its focus more on covers than on Clapton’s own originals. The recording’s production rounds out its most important elements. It ensures that the sound is expertly balanced along with the various shots throughout the performance. Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make the recording a pleasing presentation for Eric Clapton’s most devoted audiences.
The Woman in the Balcony is scheduled for release Friday through Mercury Studios. More information on the recording is available along with all of Eric Clapton’s latest news at:
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