Clapton Concert Details: Green Arena 15 November 2003

Eric Clapton and His Band kicked off their 2003 Japan Tour on 15 November at the Green Arena in Hiroshima. Where’s Eric! will be posting set lists (and fan reviews when available) for all concerts on the tour. The wraps in just about a month’s time on 13 December in Tokyo.

The complete set list from opening night was:

01. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
02. When You Got A Good Friend
03. Crossroads
04. I Shot The Sheriff
05. Bell Bottom Blues
06. Reconsider Baby
07. Can’t Find My Way Home
08. White Room
09. I Want A Little Girl
10. Got My Mojo Working
11. Hoochie Coochie Man
12. Change The World
13. Before You Accuse Me
14. Kind Hearted Woman
15. Badge
16. Holy Mother
17. My Father’s Eyes
18. River Of Tears
19. Lay Down Sally
20. Wonderful Tonight
21. Cocaine
22. Five Long Years
23. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
24. Layla
25. Sunshine Of Your Love (encore)
26. Somewhere Over The Rainbow (encore)

Band Line Up:
Eric Clapton – Vocals, Guitar
Nathan East – Bass
Steve Gadd – Drums
Andy Fairweather Low – Guitar
Chris Stainton – Keyboards

Concert Review by Jii Aoi

So the Clapton’s Autumn is back in Japan, after two year’s absence as usual, as if the widespread talk of his retirement from the road had not happened at all. His sixteenth since 1974, it came to Hiroshima first this time, Eric’s fourth visit to the city since 1979-presumably an alternative choice of Fukuoka which would host the EC show usually if the local promoter hadn’t gone out of business.

The lights turned down, then came Eric on stage on his own, in front of an audience of 8,000 which packed the house, started strumming the black-ish accoustic guitar-later I heard this was a custom-made model designed by Hiroshi Fujiwara, the Japanese DJ who is a friend of Eric-and singing "Nobody Knows You When You Are Down And Out". Unlike the Reptile Tour, he was standing while performing, and never did he sit down during the rest of the show except for the final song, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". Who says he has grown old?

It was also the moment I felt as if this was happenning only after a few days’ rest since the Yokohama show, the final performance of the Reptile World Tour, the two years that lied between then and now vanishing into the air. For me, Eric’s Japanese tour was always something special, but now I feel it’s just there, something I could reach out for whenver I want, for Japan has become his "second home" as he stated in his own note for the programme.

Next song was "When You Got A Good Friend", yet another rendition of Robert Johnson, Eric’s spiritual guru. After a couple of verses finished, other guys appeared and joined Eric who exchanged the accoustic guitar for the multicoloured Strat while the performance was going on-"A Good Friend" segued into "Crossroads", first the boogie/shuffle beat accompanying the singing part, then came that unmistakable chainsaw riff played in double time, even faster than the definitive Winterland ’68 performance, repeated alternately-a stunning "convulsive" version, definately one of the highlights of the show.

Well, I could go on and on and on…

Twenty-six songs were played in two hours and twenty minuites. The band played a couple of blues covers not often played, "Got My Mojo Working" and "Kindhearted Woman Blues", besides some familier ones, like "Reconsider Baby", "Before You Accuse Me", "Hoochie Coochie Man", "Five Long Years" etc. Rather than rare songs in true sense (i.e., the unplugged "Bell Bottom Blues" first introduced in the 1999 Japanese Pilgrim show, for instance), what we were treated to are ex-workhorses that used to be regular features of EC shows ten or twenty years before but hadn’t been played for quite a while in Japan-"I Shot The Sheriff" (first time in six years), "Can’t Find My Way Home" (thirteen years) , " White Room" (ten years except for a sole performance in 1997), "Lay Down Sally" (fifteen years) and "Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door" (twenty-four years). Certainly it was refreshing to hear these songs after all those years, but I’m afraid the novelty will wear off shortly as more shows follow, predictably. Surprisingly enough, no new songs were played-maybe understandably enough, because the sound guy I talked to afterwards suggested the bootleg problem over here. This has coloured the tour with more of a back catalogue show, a mixed bag, "something for everyone" according to the sound guy, than a pre-new album one. Ah yes, "Wonderful Tonight" and "Change The World" were there, as usual-but "Tears In Heaven" was dropped for whatever reason.

Musically, it seems to be "perform shorter and crisp, play more songs". Gone are teasing introductions and prolonged endings. The songs were played fast paced one after another. Dispite the length of the show, it even gave a hurried impression as a whole. Performancewise, it was real good I have to say, if emotionally a little bit thin-despite the first night, one would be convinced this was a tenth show. I don’t think it gave any EC connoisseurs the rather negative feel that the opening night of the RAH 2001 may have done.

Where’s Eric!
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