25 Apr 04
Eric Clapton’s first-ever solo concert in Belfast, Northern Ireland was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2. Thousands of fans around the globe were able to tune in as well as it was streamed online by the BBC. The concert will be available for online listening for a period of time at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/events/musiclive/. The venue for the concert was the Odyssey Arena.
Eric’s band is:
Nathan East – Bass, Vocals
Chris Stainton – Keyboards
Steve Gadd – Drums
Doyle Bramhall II – Guitar, Vocals
Billy Preston – Hammond Organ, Keyboards, Vocals
Sharon White – Backing Vocals
Michelle John – Backing Vocals
The complete set list in Belfast was:
Several fans checked in with Where’s Eric! Here’s what they had to say:
Review by Brian Johnston
I have been following and playing EC music for 30 years, ive seen him approx 20 times ,i even got involved with the original fan club mag Slowhand, so when i heard he was playing Belfast and didnt have to travel to England or anywhere else , pretty excited. Turning up at the venue my first surprise was to see that most of audience where nicely dressed controlled middle aged people, what happened to the long haired drunks who just wanted to see their hero?
The support band where pretty good and tried their best to get the crowd going with dancing and rocky numbers.
When Eric came on he got the normal response , he cut straight into Let It Rain which i was surprised at i have always seen this song one of the big songs (I always thought artists left the big songs to last) but it did leave me with the feeling, this is going to get better and better.The song was tight and well rehearsed and sounded pretty good. About two or three songs into the set he played Walk Out In The Rain, i thought this song was super and he sang it really well , good to hear him doing songs that only true clapton fans would no. When he played I Shot The Sheriff, he reminded me why i buy every album travel around the world following this man, the guitar solo was breath taking as good as ive ever heard him. The blues songs of the new album where really good and if you needed motivation to get up and dance there it was Milk Calf Blues should have had the crowd rocking.I new this song was coming but when he played Got To Get Better in a little While , Somethig Else! Eric played fantastically well throughout the show with a great band and in my personal opinion the Belfast audience let him down by being too reserved and conservative- this is one of the biggest rock stars in the world and hero to many people he kept his sice of the deal and played out of his skin.
Review by Colin Gardiner
I went to the Belfast Odyssey Arena to see Eric perform live for the first time and although his performance and that of the band was faultless the main thing I was disappointed with was that he never interacted with the audience hardly at all. Now I have been to many concerts before in Belfast where the crowd were getting applauded by the artistes on the stage due to them singing, clapping and dancing along to the songs but for some unknown reason this didn’t happen on saturday night. I think the main problem was Eric done a lot of songs that either only true Slowhand fans like myself would know or he done some of his new album that again people mostly didn’t know. I went to the show with my sister and 2 neices who although like EC, don’t know every song on every album and even they said he didn’t do enough of the big hits.
The first track was "Let It Rain" which most EC fans knew and reacted well to with Eric doing a good job on the solos Next came the blues standard "Hoochie Coochie Man" which again the crowd reacted well to because I think most of us knew it and again Eric and the band doing a great job. Then came "Walk Out In The Rain" which myself and the die hard EC fans knew only recieved moderate applause from the audience because most of them probably didn’t know it.
"Bell Bottom Blues" is a track I have always liked and it was performed very well, but again not really a big hit so again the crowd just gave moderate applause.
An unusual start to "I Shot The Sheriff" with Eric strumming the intro and whenever the song started properly it got great applause from the audience with everyone dancing and clapping. Eric was outstanding with great solos throughout. He interacted well with the band and backing singers on this one. When the song finished it received rapturous applause as you would expect.
I thought now that he had the crowd with him he would have done a few more big hits now but instead he went into 4 tracks from his new "Me and Mr Johnson" album. Firstly he done "Milkcow Calf Blues" which was performed very well and got good reaction from the blues fans in the audience. "When You’ve Got A Good Friend" was next with EC going to town on the solos once again. "They’re Red Hot" was next and to me is best left as an album track as it doesn’t do well as a live song even though it was performed well enough.
"Kind Hearted Woman Blues" was excellent with EC once again getting a great reaction from the audience during the solos.
So there we had 4 unknown songs from his new album and to me EC should have done a big hit around now to get the crowd going again but instead he went into "Got To Get Better In A Little While" from his Derek and The Dominos days. This is a song he hasn’t performed live probably since 1970 and again the crowd mostly didn’t know it and even though the performance was good with all members of the band doing very well it only received moderate applause. Next was "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" which althouigh an EC standard, it’s not a recoginsed hit. EC again done very well on the solos and got good applause for them.
At last we reach the HIT section of the show with firstly and EC favourite "Badge" whch got the crowd going well with great solos from all concerned. Next was one of my all time favourite tracks and very much a crowd favourite, "Wonderful Tonight" which had the crowd singing along and enjoying every minute of it. A slightly shorter solo at the end of the song more in keeping with the "Live In ’85" video version that the brilliant "24 Nights" version but all in all a good version of the song. Next EC went straight into "Layla" which was very good and got a huge roar from the crowd as you would expect. Surprisingly instead of taking a round of applause from the audience for probably his most recognisable song EC went straight from the ending of "Layla" into "Cocaine" which was performed well. These 4 songs really got the crowd going and got the biggest cheers of the night.
Eric then took a bow and went off stage and after a few minutes came back on to do his now standard encore of "Sunshine Of Your Love" which was greeted very well again by the crowd. I have to say that whenever Robert Radolph came on to help out with the solos he nearly stole the show. Robert was to me the surprise of the night, with a good performance as the warm up act (especially the Jimi Hendrix classic "Voodoo Chile"). Finally came "Got My Mojo Working" which I had heard many times before as it is an old blues track but I felt it was wrong to finish with as again most of the crowd didn’t know it.
After taking a bow the band left the stage to rapturous applause, feet stamping and cheers of "MORE!, MORE!" so obviously the crowd enjoyed it even though he could have done more of his big hits to keep the crowd with him more and perhaps this is why the crowd was a little subdued as a whole during the largest part of the show and only came alive at the end of the show when EC done the hits. It also would have helped if he had have spoke to the crowd a little bit more because over the 1 hour 45 minutes of the show he said very little. Now considering this was Eric’s first show in Belfast as a solo artiste EVER!, he could have at the very least acknowledged that fact. The only other times he was in Belfast was back in 1960’s, once with The Yardbirds and twice with Cream.
I really enjoyed the show as did my sister and 2 neices and as I said earlier their only critiscism was that there wasn’t enough of the hits and not enough chat with the audience. I hope it doesn’t take him 37 years to come back to Belfast again!
Review by Philip Blair
It was the first time I have seen Eric live and it must be said that it was worth the effort. My first question when they took the stage was "who’s that guitarist up there with Billy Preston?" and I just couldn’t believe the band. Was I really seeing all these people on one stage? That a band with the 5th Beatle on organ was never introduced to the crowd left me amazed. I would guess that many people in the hall have no idea who, apart from Eric himself, they saw perform.
Many people commented on the lack of interaction with the audience and while that is not something I have a lot of problem with it must be said that the audience were a bit flat. Reasons for this may be many and varied but the fact that the bouncers in the hall were going around stopping people dancing and actually removed at least one, that I know of, woman from the hall for daring to enjoy herself might give some idea as to where the problem lay. There was no rowdiness, no trouble, no agro and no reason on earth that I could see to stop people dancing. The Belfast audience can be a very appreciative audience but when you see they way they are treated it is a wonder that they, or the big stars, bother to turn out at all. So, a big thanks to Eric for coming and we’ll be better next time! A bit thanks also to the crew and the sound engineer for getting a great sound in the hall and making a great show possible.
It is likely that some people were a little thrown by a set that could, for the most part, have been put together in 1974 and I have heard that a few people were disappointed not to hear tracks such as "Tears in Heaven." From my perspective there wasn’t much that could have been improved apart from making it longer by the addition of a few more blues numbers such as "Early in the Morning" or "Double Trouble."
As it was this was a rock and soul show and anyone who wasn’t dancing, despite the oppression, had either been dead for several days or had taken a wrong turning on the way to a Free Presbyterian Bible conference.
It was also a show for the whole band, sure Eric was out front as the big name, but this was like a good performance of the Rachmaninov 2nd Piano Concerto and was a careful balance of the forces. Every single member of the band put in a great performance but I just have to single out Billy Preston for a special mention: the man has soul and took the whole experience to a different level.
I went along not expecting too much, I’ve seen big names before who have failed to impress, and I came out like a man who had just had a religious conversion. The band were fantastic and they put on a rock and soul show like of which I haven’t seen in a very many years and which I will remember for a very many years.
If you have tickets for a future show then go along and enjoy. If you are thinking about buying tickets for a show then buy standing tickets and get out there and shake your booty. I’ve seen James Brown, the Godfather of soul, deliver soul to the brethren; now I’ve seen God bring rock and soul to the unconverted.