Venue: Air Canada Centre
Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Andy Fairweather Low – guitar / vocals
David Sancious – keyboards / guitar / vocals
Nathan East – bass / vocals
Steve Gadd – drums
Doyle Bramhall II & Smokestack
Billy Preston missed this show due to illness. He would not rejoin the tour until 11 June in Boston.
01. Key To The Highway
03. Got You On My Mind
04. Tears In Heaven
05. Bell Bottom Blues
06. Change The World
07. My Father’s Eyes
08. River Of Tears
09. Going Down Slow
10. She’s Gone
11. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
12. Travelin’ Light
13. Hoochie Coochie Man
14. Five Long Years
16. Wonderful Tonight
18. Sunshine Of Your Love (encore)
19. Somewhere Over The Rainbow (encore)
Review by David Crooks
Eric in Toronto. The venue was the AIR CANADA CENTRE, which was built, as a state of the art, multi-purpose arena, about three years ago and holds approximately 16,000 (Eric played to a full house).
The first thing to mention is the bands lineup, which has changed a little since the European leg. There was no sign of Paulinho da Costa on Percussion and although the newly updated tour program has Billy Preston as the new band member, he wasn’t on show either due to illness.
So the Band itself was a band of five, which meant all members had to work extra hard, to make up for the missing elements. It’s surprising how much you notice the lack of percussion. Steve tried his best to fill in with drum solos, on the percussion breaks within tracks, such as Goin down slow & Travlin’ light and to his credit, did well. However numbers like Reptile are heavily percussion based and all the little effects produced by the Percussionist are missing, although you would only notice, if you have seen one of the Euro concerts.
The whole set starting with Key to the Highway, started slowly, gradually getting better, with highlights around the middle and second half. River of Tears didn’t take off as it normally does and perhaps Eric was all to conscious of the reduced band? Layla was strong, as was Five Long Years. Sunshine (encore) felt rushed, Eric walk back on stage and went straight into the opening riff, no long intro, although finished with good end solo.
As I flew back to England, I contemplated the show and over all it was a fine performance, polished and refined, but lacked sparkle.
Review by Michael Berenstein
Sporting a laid back look, with his blue jeans and white button down t-shirt, Eric Clapton took the stage, maybe for the last time in Toronto. The atmosphere created by the jam packed crowd at the Air Canada Center complemented the tremendous sound and lighting display that would accompany Eric’s entire show.
Starting off the show with his accoustic set, Eric pumped out a tremendous rendition of the old time blues "Key To The Highway", which he most recently re-recorded with BB King for their ‘Riding With The King’ album. Following this was the instrumental title track from his latest album "Reptile". Another new tune, ‘Got You On My Mind’ followed. The crowd erupted for the first time as he continued into the crowd favourite ‘Tears In Heaven’. Reaching deep into his past, Eric played ‘Bell Bottom Blues’ and then got the crowd cheering as a lengthened version of ‘Change The World’ concluded the accoustic set to begin the show.
The electric set opened with a bang as Eric played ‘My Father’s Eyes’. Being maybe his last world tour, Eric chose to stick to the finger-pick guitar style as he aborted the slide guitar version of ‘My Father’s Eye’s’ that he played during the 1998 Pilgrim tour. The last time I heard this style of ‘My Father’s Eyes’ was back during his 1992 tour. My personal favourite ‘River Of Tears’ followed. A soulful solo to end the ballad led nicely into an even more funked up version of ‘Goin’ Down Slow’. Having alread jazzed up the old blues tune for the "Pilgrim" album, Eric still added a twist to the song with a funkier vocal performance. As was done during the ’98 tour, ‘She’s Gone’ was another crowd favourite and got the crowd off their seats for the first time. Another new tune, a James Taylor cover, ‘Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight’ followed. The crowd had a nice rest during this tune, but were once again out of their seats for ‘Travellin’ Light’.
When I refer to the crowd being out of their seat, I generally mean myelf, my friend, and a handful of others. For the most part, the older crowd which seemed to dominate this night remained in their seats. Switching from night to night, I was lucky enough to hear the ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and ‘Five Long Years’ double blues tune combo. During the ’98 tour, I got the ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’ combo. ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and ‘Five Long Years’ had me out of my seat dancing to the blues classics. I was joined by the rest of the arena for the first time as Eric pounded out his first of the "Big Three", as I like to call them. ‘Cocaine’ had the entire arena dancing, which was followed by the classic love ballad ‘Wonderful Tonight’. And then to end the set, Eric, as he has been doing for this entire tour, brought the arena to an eruption. The lights went down, and one spot light focused on Eric, with his back to the crowd, as he soloed through the introduction to arguably his greatest song ever: ‘Layla’. An incredible finish to the set had the Toronto crowd screaming for more. Not to be denied, Eric added a strong finish with ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’. But, Eric would not leave it at that. He is leaving his mark wherever he plays now, as he finishes off his concerts with a low key, accoustic version of ‘Somehwere Over The Rainbow’. As his career has seemed to mellow out in his older days, Eric has decided to leave his stamp with the beautiful ballad to end his and our night. It was truly a wonderful night in Toronto. My only disapointments were the absence of ‘Second Nature’, one of my favourites of the new album, and ‘Superman Inside’ which he has been doing with Doyle Bramhall II. But, the presence of ‘Bell Bottom Blues’, ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and of course an electric version of ‘Layla’ more than made up for those absences. If this turns out to be his last performance in Toronto, Eric certainly did it in style. His guitar was on, his singing was crisp, and his band accompanied him very well. I’m sure I’ll travel to see Eric play some other time, but for now I’ll say thanks for the music, and thanks for this incredible night.