EC & His Band: Newcastle 27 April 2004

On 27 April, Eric Clapton’s current world tour brought him to the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England. The set list was unchanged from previous performances.

Set List

  1. Let It Rain
  2. Hoochie Coochie Man
  3. Walk Out In The Rain
  4. Bell Bottom Blues
  5. I Shot The Sheriff
  6. Milkcow’s Calf Blues
  7. When You Got A Good Friend
  8. They’re Red Hot
  9. Kind Hearted Woman
  10. Got To Get Better In A Little While
  11. Have You Ever Loved A Woman
  12. Badge
  13. Wonderful Tonight
  14. Layla
  15. Cocaine
  16. Sunshine Of Your Love (encore with Robert Randolph)
  17. I Got My Mojo Workin’ (encore with Robert Randolph)

Review by David Robinson

Been to numerous concerts but first time at Newcastle. Same band line up and setlist,The first four numbers all containing good solos mainly from Eric and Doyle nice to have Walk out in the rain, and Let it rain,on the setlist,Then came I shot the sheriff which included an awesome solo from Eric,after that we had four R Johnson numbers similar to the album versions but with added extra solos, Kind hearted women blues Eric played with feeling.

Following came Got to get better in a little while,and Have you ever loved a women,which involved all band members but Eric again was superb,the last four songs were all the classics done to usual format but ending with Layla going straight into Cocaine.Encore as previous nights with Robert Rudolf accompaning,both numbers done well everybody having there own solos. Eric and Doyle accompanied each other well,and all smiles from the band members.I thought Erics playing on the night Included everything slow,fast,mellow,harsh, and feeling.Great night highlight of the night was solo in I shot the sheriff.

Review by Bob Tasker

The usual set list, so nothing to report there, but having the Belfast show as a base, it seemed like a better show as early as EC’s solo in "Let It Rain". He was obviously "into it", and not playing by numbers. One criticism: "Hoochie Coochie Man" does not require girlie backing vocals. Ever. Stop it. Now. By "Walk Out In The Rain", Doyle was obviously getting into it too. This could be the turning point of the tour: Andy F-L, for all his good points, isn’t going to PUSH EC, rather he forms part of the overall rhythm backdrop to EC’s showcase. Nothing wrong with that, but Doyle might just be the spur EC needs to switch off the auto pilot more often. "Bell Bottom Blues" benefits from being electric these days, & added to the feeling that they were really getting into the performance.

Then "Sheriff". HOLY MOTHER! (Also, Note to EC: there’s a hint for a replacement to the (thankfully) short Wonderful Tonight!!). The shuffling reggae intro threw most of the audience, vocal bits & bobs out of the way, & then for the first real time Doyle uses his guitar as a cattle prod on EC: "C’mon Old Man – you’re not going to let me take the limelight, are you?". No. No, he didn’t. With a long, long build up to his own solo (seemingly having found a lot of new "bottom end" notes hidden within his Strat), EC had everyone, including the band, in his pocket. Without doubt he had gone off on one, & signalled that more was to come.

I suppose the only problem with this is that it takes everyone to a high, only to be brought down (slightly) by the new stuff. Hell, not as dramatic as following "Little Wing" with Mary J Blige at the Crossroads gig in 1999, but you get the idea 🙂

The four Robert Johnson songs met with general approval: "Milk Cow" throwing out more sparks from Doyle & EC, "Good Friend" featuring VERY nice slide, and  "Kind Hearted Woman" is developing into another Big Blues Number.

"Got To Get Better" lets Doyle step out again, with EC both enjoying his playing and adding his own contribution to the mix.

And then straight into "Have You Ever Loved A Woman". Now then, before the start of each act, shortly before the lights went down, we got the Health & Safety instructions from the venue ("We don’t expect any problems, but if the building is attacked by Godzilla, the show will stop, and  you should run screaming for the exits" – or something like that). Well, there should have been another announcement before "Have….." to the effect that seat belts should be fastened, and that drooling was about to become inevitable. Seemingly more up for it than of late (some recent versions seem to be to be run through as an obligation, especially in the opening verse), the first solo taken by Chris Stainton, passing to Billy Preston, with building fills from Doyle, chomping at the bit to be let loose. Then it’s his turn. Wow. Not so much a building solo, more of 0-60mph in 2 seconds flat: wah-wah, string bending, chords, single notes, jugglers balls, spinning plates, & the kitchen sink, all up in the air at once. Laydeez and Gennlemun: The Doyle Bramhall Show! And the first in line for a ticket: E. Clapton. At least twice Doyle was looking to EC to take over, but he was pushed on by EC, obviously getting off on his sidekick’s performance and  wanting him to continue. Rather than come back with a solo of his own with which he could have wiped the floor, EC showed a lot more class, and finished the song off with the last verse and a competent ending, leaving the piece as a monument to Doyle’s playing. After all, EC HAS featured within the song on more than a few occasions in the past!

Onto the hits, and Badge again benefitted tonight with more playing rather than auto pilot. Of late I’ve thought this has been used like "Lay Down Sally" was: a musical interlude while the band recover from the preceding blues workout. Not tonight! Although I don’t have a problem with the ever-shrinking-Wonderful-Tonight, no sooner did I have my pillow plumped up, and duvet pulled over my shoulder to catch up on much needed sleep, than it was over and time to wake up again! "Layla", with more & more Doyle again, as fine as ever, & keyboards to the fore for the refrain, and straight into "Cocaine". I don’t know if it’s a feature of 2004, but both EC and DB were soloing with their backs to the audience, to pick up a tad of feedback from their amps, leaving the stage somewhat empty! Another fine performance from the two of them, and then off for a breather.

All this guffawing about EC and DB shouldn’t detract from the rest of the band, and particularly Billy made some fine contributions as only Billy can. I’m sure there’ll be nights when the frontmen aren’t as dominant, and they get more of the spotlight, but not tonight.

"Sunshine" and "Mojo" formed the encore with Robert Randolph entering the stage halfway through the former. Obviously EC gets off on RR’s playing, but it didn’t quite do it for me. And guitar duelling doesn’t look right when one participant is sat down, doing an impression of Ironside on speed.  "Mojo" is a strange one to finish with, not previously associated with EC, and whilst it’s a rollicking fun performance, it does beg for one more song with which to end the set.

But when has EC ever finished an encore without everyone thinking "just one more…"

Where’s Eric!
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