For Your Weekend Listening Pleasure: Clapton, Beck & Page's Reunion at Reunion in Nov. '83

This work-week ender is a double-header -- two nights in November 1983, back-to-back benefits for the great Ronnie Lane, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1976. It was Lane himself who came up with the benefits, held beneath the banner of Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis -- A.R.M.S., for short. Initially, there was to be but the one benefit: September 21, 1983, at the Royal Albert Hall. Featuring, among others, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Steve Winwood, Bill Wyman, Kenney Jones (who'd been a Small Face himself), John Paul Jones, Andy Fairweather-Low and Charlie Watts. Quite the guest list. A video exists; several, actually. Said Lane, "I've got some pretty powerful friends."

So powerful, in fact, that one show wasn't enough. And so a spin-off tour was planned for the U.S. in late '83, with stops in Inglewood, San Francisco and New York City. But, first, Dallas -- November 28 and 29 at Reunion Arena. I remember the hype well: Blared the radio ads at the time, "The British Are Coming." The line-up was more or less the same as the British one-off -- but out was Winwood, in was Joe Cocker, performing, among others, "Seven Days," "You Are So Beautiful" and "Feelin' Alright," a Traffic stop.

Clapton, Beck and Page returned, divvying up the set till coming together at the end for "Layla," "With a Little Help from My Friends" (including Cocker, killer) and "Goodnight, Irene," featuring Lane himself not long before he moved to Austin. Till then it's the hits and some that never were: Clapton dishing out "Cocaine" and "Wonderful Tonight" and "Lay Down Sally"; Beck, "Star Cycle" and "The Pump" and, with Fairweather-Low, "People Get Ready"; and Page, sneak-peaking The Firm with Paul Rodgers whilst riding an instrumental "Stairway to Heaven."

I came across the first show earlier this week; it's here. Turns out, only a few days ago someone else made the second night available here. The set lists are identical, and both are well-preserved audience keepsakes. The 28th show sounds a little better -- louder, certainly. But who's complaining?

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