Clapton Concert Recap: Sacramento, Las Vegas & San Diego

The first leg of Eric Clapton’s 2011 World Tour wraps this week with two shows at Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City, California on 8 and 9 March. Like all previous dates, Eric’s gigs in Sacramento, Las Vegas and San Diego received consistently high praise from fans who attended. Here’s what some of them told Where’s Eric!:

Sacramento – 3 March

Eric played a phenomenal set, very well supported by his amazing band and two keyboardists, who have to be seen to believed. What an amazing experience it was to have Eric on the stage playing his normal guitar-god self and then for him to be supported by the two equally amazing musicians on the ivories. Wow. The show was a great mix of high energy classic rock and low key acoustic versions of classic Clapton–Layla was low key acoustic, which sounded perfect, and then Crossroads and Cocaine were each high energy rock versions of the songs. – Amanda C.

What a fantastic show. I have now seen EC in concert 3 times. This time he was the ONLY guitarist in the band. He gave one hell of a good performance and seemed to truly enjoy himself. The kick off with the bluesier songs (Key To The Highway, Going Down Slow, Hoochie Coochie Man and Old Love) was an instant kick of energy and amazing solos. He seemed to perform these songs differently from past performances and gave each song a modern, updated jive / feeling. My faves included the first 4 tunes as well as the "acoustic" version of Layla that he performed with his sunburst Gibson ES-335. But the whole night was memorable. – Daniel Stephenson

Las Vegas – 5 March

Frankly, I was skeptical about the tour set list and the dual keyboard line-up, but the opening number, "Key To The Highway", established the room sound and a familiar mood throughout the crowd. EC’s voice was strong and emphatic while his touch and tone certainly demonstrated a desire to play with a by-the-book "Going Down Slow". The irony and mystery of "Hoochie Coochie Man" enthralled the older fellows close by and "Old Love" harkened back to the "Journeyman" period with well-timed, dramatic pauses. We witnessed a bit of magic from a tasteful rendition of The Wailers version of "I Shot The Sheriff" with a sweet falsetto refrain. The sit-down section from "Driftin’" through "Layla" gave the artists a bit of a breather and a chance for the crowd to enjoy the Martin acoustic and the Gibson electric. – Kevin Dauphinee

Clapton and his band hit the stage at 9:10p, after a great set by opener Los Lobos. Set list was the same as his Arco Arena show March 3rd, in Sacramento, CA, but believe it or not, this show had a bit more energy. [Eric] was energetic on stage, wringing out notes from the neck of his Daphne Blue Strat, which he favors of late. The Strat was only one of three guitars he used all evening … The encore was "Crossroads", but a different version than had been played two nights before at Sacramento’s ARCO Arena. This was a "funky" type of Crossroads, and was really very very appealing, and came with all the usual bells and whistles. – Paul M. Robitaille

The keyboards on Hoochie Coochie Man were exemplary and Tim Carmon held his own with the legendary Chris Stainton. Tim had several impressive solos throughout the night much to my surprise … The night was stolen however, by Eric’s solo in Old Love. It was a fierce blast of pure virtuoso shredding with the assault pushing 5 minutes long and brought the crowd to an absolute roar. This was a 1960’s style solo that I was perhaps the best I have heard from him in a while. His usual "I Shot the Sheriff" axe work built to a frenetic cresendo with each note clearly distinct and calculated. Amazing as usual … He said little as usual but he was all smiles as he clearly fed off of the crowd’s enthusiasm elevating him to his "A" game. A suprisingly upbeat sit down session followed with highlights being "Nobody Knows You When You are Down and Out" and "When Somebody Thinks You are Wonderful". The numbers were jazzy and energetic and quite enjoyable. There was no real let down. – Tracey R. Ikerd

San Diego – 6 March

It was just surreal, mesmerizing at times and you know you are experiencing something very special! We got killer versions of Badge, Crossroads and many others. Even "I Shot the Sheriff" had an amazing solo, I thought wow, what was that all about! – Steve Morgan

Eric, as usual, was in awesome form. Sound qaulity for this show was excellent. The entire show was stellar but the "best of the best" for me was Eric’s incredible solo on "Old Love", it soared to the very heigths of passionate musical expression. The plugged in "unplugged" version of "Layla" was a new twist on the song that worked well. The intro to "I Shot the Sheriff" was quite a change from any other live performance of the song I’ve heard and a delight. Eric’s singing was as good as I’ve ever heard him. He has grown SO much over the years in that area. – David Dell

Don’t forget to check the 2011 Tour Archive to read these and other fan reviews in full, along with complete set lists. Reviews are added as they arrive. If you were at one of the earlier gigs on the tour, or are heading to the shows this week in Universal City, why not send your review and / or photos to Where’s Eric! at

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