Concert Details

17 Jun 01 - Eric Clapton

Location:

Venue: First Union Center

City: Philadelphia

State/Province: PA

Country: United States

Band Lineup:

Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Andy Fairweather Low – guitar / vocals
Billy Preston – hammond organ
David Sancious – keyboards / guitar / vocals
Nathan East – bass / vocals
Steve Gadd – drums

Support:

Doyle Bramhall II & Smokestack

Show Notes:

 

Special Guest(s):

 

Set List:

01. Key To The Highway
02. Reptile
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. I Want A Little Girl
12. Travelin’ Light
13. Hoochie Coochie Man
14. Have You Ever Loved A Woman
15. Cocaine
16. Wonderful Tonight
17. Layla
18. Sunshine Of Your Love (encore)
19. Somewhere Over The Rainbow (encore)

Fan Reviews:

Review by Ian Messinger

What exactly do you expect when you’re on your way to see a man who has been called “God” since thirty-some years before you were born?
In all honesty I wasn’t expecting much. I had listened to Clapton, emulated his playing and watched every bit of concert footage I could find from his entire career for the last five years. I just assumed that I knew him too well for him to surprise me or give me a huge rush.

How very, very wrong I was.

I sat down at the First Union Center in Philadelphia and already wasn’t expecting any miracles based on the awful seats I had (that’ll teach me to wait until the day before to buy tickets). Doyle Bramhall II and Smokestack came out and played for a little less than an hour–not a bad set or a bad band by any means, and certainly not bad guitar work–but even if their music didn’t sound like all the other radio rock out there today, they weren’t who I was there to see.

After they left the stage it took about 10 minutes for the stage crew to come out and change gear and tune up for the man himself. Finally the lights dimmed and out he came, wearing jeans and a white t-shirt and carrying only an acoustic guitar. He sat down and without any more than a “good evening” launched right into ‘Key to the Highway.’ His band (Nathan East on bass, Steve Gadd on drums, Billy Preston on keyboards, David Sancious on keyboards and of course Andy Fairweather Low on guitar) filed out onto the stage after the song, and E.C. picked up his Gibson L5 to play ‘Reptile,’ which despite its’ laid-back feel on the album actually turned into quite a rollicking jam with keyboard solos and all. He continued the more intimate set with ‘Tears in Heaven’ and an acoustic rendition of ‘Bell Bottom Blues’ that drove everyone who knew that there was a career before “Unplugged” into a frenzy. He finished off this sec! tion with a nice long run-through of ‘Change the World.’

Next up was the “Pilgrim” portion of the evening, and by the time this began I had found better seats. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I was very disappointed with that album, but once you see the songs from it performed live you can at least recognize their power and have a new appreciation for the recorded versions. He pulled out his Strat and began a very unusual take of ‘My Father’s Eyes’ with a funkier beat than usual; already he was changing things up and throwing in the unexpected. ‘River of Tears’ followed which has an emotional impact live that you would be amazed at. Unfortunately I heard Clapton make his only mistake while playing the solo, but oh well. ‘Goin’ Down Slow’ and ‘She’s Gone’ were both full of energy (not to mention great solos) and had the crowd on its’ feet. ‘Got You On My Mind,’ ‘I Want a Little Girl’ and ‘Traveling Light’ (with Clapton picking up another Strat for slide) were the only selections from the new album and they all sounded just as good as they do on the album itself. Clapton was obviously very aware of the ability of the musicians he had on this final tour, giving both keyboard players solos in many of the songs. All the lights went out for an instant and in the dark you heard the first unmistakable notes of ‘Hoochie Coochie Man.’ Once the applause died away at the end, the band switched to a slow tempo for what started out as a very calm version of ‘Have You Ever Loved a Woman?’ but eventually built in intensity with E.C.’s solo.

Much to my disappointment, the last half-hour of the show was the classics section. As much as I had no interest in hearing the same Top 40 songs that everyone knows, he played an absolutely beautiful solo on ‘Wonderful Tonight.’ He moved on to ‘Cocaine’ and then did his little ‘Layla’ tease (and I’m sorry, but it just wasn’t an interesting version…any song that used to have Duane Allman is simply not going to be as good without Duane Allman). He left the stage after this and was off long enough that I began to think that maybe he wouldn’t be doing an encore. After about 10 minutes, with the crowd still standing and cheering, he returned to the stage and ran through ‘Sunshine of Your Love.’ Again, certainly not a bad song or a bad rendition of it, but a great part of what made Cream so exciting was Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, and Nathan East and Steve Gadd just don’t stretch out the form enough to make the song worth the reaction it received. He ended the evening with Nat ‘King’ Cole’s ‘For All We Know’ and introduced the band before the last chorus. He said his goodbyes and took his bows with the band and exited to even more screaming and cheering.

As he walked off the stage, I felt that just by being there I had paid my respects to a guy who has had a very positive effect on my life. And he had certainly paid whatever respect he owed me by playing the best concert I’ve ever been to, bar none. Eric Clapton has moved far beyond just being a guitar player, a musician, a cultural icon, and even far beyond being someone who is just up there paying respect to the spirit of the music: when you hear him play, that’s him. Instead of just being a messenger of it, you can actually find him in the same place as the music, and no matter how often he tours or how many records he puts out or what kind of records he puts out, he will always have that to his name.

Where’s Eric!
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