Venue: United Center
Country: United States
Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Doyle Bramhall II – guitar / vocals
Derek Trucks – guitar
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Tim Carmon – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Steve Jordan – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
Robert Cray Band
Robert Cray – guitar / vocals*
02. I Shot The Sheriff
03. Got To Get Better In A Little While
04. Old Love*
05. Everybody Oughta Make A Change
06. Motherless Children
07. Back Home
08. I Am Yours
09. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
10. Running On Faith
11. After Midnight
12. Little Queen Of Spades
13. Further On Up The Road
14. Wonderful Tonight
17. Crossroads (encore)*
Review by Seth Kennedy – Chicago, IL
Tonight, I heard the voice of God. I wasn’t in any state of divine or ritual purity, I was simply present for the spectacle that is Eric Clapton’s guitar playing. Robert Cray’s set was surprisingly short. I was hoping for at least a 45-minute set from the Cray Band. Instead, they only played for a little over a half hour. They played Cray classics such as The Bad Influence and Phone Boothe, as well as touching on Cray’s last album with Poor Johnny and the album’s title track, anti-Iraq invasion ballad Twenty. The Cray Band did have two noticeable absences from their set: rocker Back Door Slam and ballad Time Makes Two. Never the less, Cray was still a stellar opener. After about a half hour wait, the lights went down and it was time for the one called God to take the stage. It was the standard setlist, but an anything-but-standard show. I Shot the Sheriff was the highlight of the first section of the show, along with Old Love (for which Cray again joined Slowhand and the band). The sitdown set was very good. I could have done without Back Home and I Am Yours, but they were definitely listenable. Nobody Knows You and Running on Faith have always been two of my favorite EC songs, and hearing them was magical. I’ve been listening to those since I was a little kid and now, nearly 18, was quite happy to hear them live. The return to the stand-up set was a clear highlight as the band rocketed into the first incarnation of Clapton’s Cale cover After Midnight, followed by a stunning Queen of Spades. Queen of Spades transitioned beautifully into another classic EC cover, Further On Up the Road. After that, it was go-time with "The Back Four" as I’ve seen them called so frequently. Wonderful Tonight was absolutely gorgeous. Though Slowhand can’t hit the high notes anymore, the song was extraordinarily powerful and gave me the urge to simply call my girlfriend and tell her I love her. Layla……I have been waiting to hear that song since the first time my dad played the Derek and the Dominoes CD for me and introduced me to the guitarist that I grew up simply knowing as God (that was just how my dad raised me calling him). It was worth the wait for every second of it (though I would have liked more of a jam before the piano section). The transition from Layla into Cocaine was a total shock and absolutely jaw-dropping. The song was an extensive jam and really showcased the whole band’s abilities. It was the quintessential closer to a perfect set. Crossroads crossed over from magnificent performance to absolutely other-worldly. All of the guitarists involved took impressive solos, with Cray singing the first 2 verses, Clapton covering the next, and the two sharing the mic for the final verse. The solos were magnificent. Trucks showcased his wonderful slide skills, but even those were eclipsed by Cray’s technical ability and the voice of God speaking through Clapton’s guitar. The whole show built and built, and it all came to a head with this song. I can’t put into words how stellar it was. An absolutely perfect close to the night I’ve waited nearly 18 years for. Tonight, I heard the voice of God. He didn’t speak out of a cloud or a burning bush. He spoke out of 6 steel strings and 4 fingers. Tonight I heard the voice of God. Tonight, I experienced the magic of Eric Clapton in concert.
Review by Kevin Kauffman
Rather than giving a detailed account of every song let me be succinct and sum up my Robert Cray/EC concert experience with this word: Magnificent! It was an awesome night of music filled with stellar performances by everyone on stage. For this guitarist it was the ultimate guitar clinic given by four masters of the six string…EC, Robert, Derek and Doyle.
Review by Kevin Swinehart
Wow! All I can say is just WOW! What an incredible performance last night in Chgo. I have seen Clapton maybe 5 or 6 times in the past 20 yrs, and putting aside the CREAM reunion (which is in a class all by itself) I have to say that this was the best performance by Clapton I have seen. Great selection of songs, great solos, & Clapton seemed happier than I have ever seen him play. Got to Get Better In A Little While is one of my favorites, and to hear it live for the 1st time was beyond great. Motherless Child & After Midnight were big crowd pleasers, as well as Little Queen of Spades & Cocaine. I have to say that I was happy that he is not playing White Room or Sunshine of Your Love on this tour. And the new "funkified" version of Crossroads was jaw dropping. If there were disappointments, it was that sometimes the background singers were not heard, and the horn section is not with him during the US tour – I would have loved to have heard the version of After Midnight as it appeared in Crossroads. And if this tour is not released as a LIVE album or DVD, it would indeed be a crime.
Review by Sam Saunders
Last night I attended the fan club listening party for "Road To Escondido" (due out on November 7th) prior to the concert at the United Center and I’m pleased to report this is one helluva album folks! Unfortunately, they were having some trouble with the sound system which wasn’t really fixed until at least midway through, but we were still able to get the basic feel of the songs themselves and I was particularly enamored with the first two, "Danger" and "Heads In Georgia". "Danger" reminds me an awful lot of the kind of Cale-influenced material E.C. did in the seventies and "Heads In Georgia" approaches near psychedelic territory with it’s hypnotic groove. From that point on the album features many thoroughly enjoyable songs built on Cale’s trademark laidback boogie, some very tasty guitar work by E.C. and Derek Trucks, and the gospel infused organ work of the late, great Billy Preston. Highlights include a great take on "Sporting Life Blues" (which features a superb E.C. vocal and solo), "Three Little Girls" (written by Clapton for his three young daughters), the seventies style twin guitars on "Don’t Cry Sister", and of course the very last track and first single "Ride The River", which finds Clapton workin’ his old "Journeyman"-era chorus pedal and wah-wah combination to great effect! All in all, I think "Road To Escondido" holds up alongside Clapton’s greatest work and will do quite well. His vocals and guitar work are such a natural fit with the songs of J.J. Cale you just can’t help but wonder why they haven’t worked together before!
By the time the listening party was over it was almost 7:30- time for Robert Cray to hit the stage. Me and my friend wanted to step outside and have a smoke or two before settling down in our seats. Once we got back in we grabbed some beer, got ready to find out seats and before we knew it Cray’s set was over! It must have been really short ’cause I thought for sure we were going to be able to catch the second half. Knowing that Clapton would be bringing him back out for "Old Love" and "Crossroads" I wasn’t that worried about it. By the time we finally did find our seats located in row 21 of section 2 (mainfloor, centerstage) it was almost 8:30. The lights dimmed right at 8:30 or so and this seemed to catch A LOT of people off guard. E.C. hit the stage dressed in his usual concert attire (designer shirt, baggy jeans and sneakers) to thunderous applause. He launched into "Pretending" and my heart soared! Unfortunately, a lot of people around me we’re still making their way to their seats during the first couple verses which somewhat dulled the experience. By the end of the song everybody was settled and we were off and running with "I Shot The Sheriff". As anybody who saw E.C. in ’04 can tell you his magnificent, elongated solos on "Sheriff" were the highlight of that tour, and he delivered once again with an absolutely jaw dropping display of nimble fingered fret work and piercing bends! The old Dominos tune "Got To Get Better In A Little While" was such a crowd pleaser last go around that he’s kept it in the set for this tour and they delivered a ferocious take on it last night! During the breakdown section I saw an absolutely shit eating grin on Mr. Clapton’s face. It was a priceless moment. From there we were treated to a spectacular rendition of "Old Love" during which E.C. with head back, eyes closed, and fingers way up high on the fretboard, nailed some of his sweetest guitar playing of the night. Hell, some of the sweetest guitar playing I’ve ever heard! I couldn’t help but think to myself during his extended solos on "Sheriff" and "Old Love" how crystal clear the tone of his guitar is even in the murky audio environment of the United Center. That stinging vibrato of his cuts through all the reverb like a knife! And for the record, I quite enjoyed Tim Carmon’s synth solo. After "Old Love" came impassioned takes on "Everybody Oughta Make A Change" and "Motherless Children", a song I was very much looking forward to hearing in concert.
Then came time for the semi-acoustic sitdown set. The "Unplugged" style renditions of "Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out" and "Running On Faith" seemed to really bring the house down, and Derek Trucks delivered on all the hype surrounding him with his ever so distinctive, soaring slide work. From there we were treated to a really hard charging take on "After Midnight" (another song I was really lookin’ forward to hearing last night) during which the rhythm section of Willie Weeks and Steve Jordan surely earned their money, and the extended blues workout on "Little Queen Of Spades". E.C., Derek and Doyle Bramhall all took their turns soloing, with each solo seemingly better than the last! The 70’s concert staple "Futher On Up The Road" was next and before we knew it, it was time for "Wonderful Tonight", one of the greatest love songs ever written in my humble opinion. The couples in the crowd pulled each other a little closer and I’m sure many tears were shed. Then came the moment surely everybody was waiting for- the immortal opening riff to "Layla". The crowd went beserk and with a three guitar, two keyboard line up, the band was able to do justice to the original multi-layered studio recording. Clapton and Trucks’ guitar interplay during the piano-led coda was sublime! The "Layla" outro went straight into the opening chords of "Cocaine" and Clapton and company delivered a hard rockin’ extended take on this classic that I much prefer to the original studio recording.
From there the band left the stage and the lights dimmed again. After a couple minutes of absolutely ecstatic applause they re-appeared with Robert Cray in tow and launched into "Crossroads". This was an absolute guitar orgy with Clapton, Cray, Bramhall and Trucks all delivering some top notch fretwork! A "guitar orgy" would be a fitting term to describe the entire concert with so many great extended solos from Clapton and company. It was surely some of the greatest guitar playing I’ve ever witnessed and surely one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. Great band, great setlist…. What more could you possibly want? And yes, Clapton is STILL God! 🙂
Review by Josh Hrach – Frankfort, IL
So the time has come and past… September 20th is behind me, so now I can talk about it. At the United Center in Chicago was someone known as Slowhand by some, God to others. Eric Clapton. And what a show he put on. All of it was lots better than the last time I saw him there. Before he came out, Robert Cray opened up with his band. They were on stage for about 40 minutes, enough time to show us what he had to offer. When I think of good guitarists, Robert Cray is near the top of the list. Although Robert Randolph had a good show last time (two years ago), I much rather preferred Cray’s band opening instead. It seemed to compliment what was to come…
At around 8:30, it began. The lights went down, the crowd started cheering, and the outlines of Doyle and Derek could be seen heading across the stage. Now, I was sitting in the 300 level (section 301, to be precise), so I had a high vantage point (but not a close view, sadly). The band seemed to be in position, and Eric could be clearly seen in the dark. (This wasn’t my first concert, so I knew how to tell him apart without the lights). Eventually a light did come up, shining over Chris and the piano keyboard. A few seconds of him playing and the concert was about to begin…
Pretending. The opening moments of that song aren’t difficult to forget. With Derek and Doyle playing along on guitar, I knew the night was going to be very entertaining. The song played through (my first time hearing it live) and it just blew me away. But I was about to get another shocker as the song came to an end…
Now, as a guitar player, I admire Clapton’s work. And I have several concert DVDs that I review to try and pick up some guitar work. One song that I have studied well was about to be played…and as Eric winded down from Pretending, I saw a familiar set of notes played that could only mean one song was about to come… and come it did, hitting like a ton of bricks (but in a good way).
I Shot the Sheriff. WOW! What a way to enter that song! I had expected one song to open and Eric to slow it down…but he didn’t slow it at all. In fact, that song just carried the same energy from the first and built on it. Even the solo after the last verse just built and built. And once again, as a guitar player, the solos are what do it for me. Again, Eric pulled through with a great solo on that wonderful song. Then an easy transition to ‘Got To Get Better In A Little While’ was good as well. By then, I was starting to see how Derek was playing… and while I hadn’t noticed any big solos yet, I knew I would be hearing something good from everyone before the night was over.
Old Love is a song that I first came to enjoy on a DVD of Eric’s concert at Madison Square Garden (I believe). I was highly anticipating this song, and having Robert Cray join the bunch on stage only made it better. Yet again, another great song to have that night (though in the end, all of the songs were great).
Everybody Ought To Make A Change and Motherless Children rounded out the first set. The quick transition between them seemed to reflect what I was seeing for the whole night. Eric was keeping the energy rolling, and he did it very well. And I also saw Derek and Doyle picking up more of the leads this time around. I missed seeing Eric taking control as much as the last time he was in town, but at the same time, I appreciate how he let the other musicians get their time in as well. Very professional.
I must make a confession: I don’t have Eric’s latest album. But I still had heard Back Home and, while its not a very energetic song, it goes to show what Eric has to offer. And of course, hearing it live was awesome. I Am Yours was a song I wasn’t too familiar with, but I had a feeling some better songs were coming…and they did come.
‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’ is another one of those songs that I have studied and can play on guitar, though not as well as ‘I Shot the Sheriff’. It seemed to be a good crowd pleaser, and a me-pleaser, too. And following it up with ‘Running On Faith’ made the middle set a joy to listen to. Both of those songs were ones that I liked from Eric’s Unplugged concert, and having those played live last night was wonderful.
Well, Eric was quickly on his feet again. At this point, I was noticing the guitar he had. I was hoping to see his Crash guitars (if I am naming it properly). But having straight black (I think it was black) was fine, too. Its how he played it that matters, after all.
Just before Eric started playing, I heard someone in the row behind me say out loud something along the lines of: "He’s still got After Midnight." And thats just what started. Another song that I had not heard live before. I was blown away by this concert… and the solos that were being ripped out by the guitar players was just making this night worth more than the money I paid.
Little Queen of Spades started much like ‘Have You Ever Loved a Woman’, which threw me off at first. But as I’ve come to expect from that song, this one would have loads of solo material. And again, I was not disappointed. I think almost everyone on stage had their chance to solo. I could be mistaken, as some details have, sadly, faded since last night.
Wonderful Tonight started the closing set of songs. Always sweet to listen to, it seems to be the song of every Clapton-listening couple. During the song, they caught one or two women in the camera, which prompted a wolf-whistle from someone a section over. The crowd cheered a bit, lifting the energy that came softly with that song. The way it was played reminded me a bit of the album version. The last verse wasn’t followed with a longer time of music playing.
Layla… Everyone knew it was coming. I don’t think the guitar was as pronounced with Layla last night as I’ve heard it at other times, but it was still a great song that got the crowd on their feet. Perhaps they knew, as I did, that the concert was coming to an end…soon.
I’ll note again that Wonderful Tonight, Layla, and Cocaine are three songs that are fun to play. And as I heard last time Eric was in Chicago, the end of Layla and the quieting of the pianos only meant one thing…
The opening riff of Cocaine brought a loud cheer from the crowd. Personally, I enjoy the ‘silent’ transition to that song. It catches people off guard (in a good way), and it just seems to carry the Layla energy to another level. The solo work in that song, again, was phenomenal. I will play that good some day… Especially like Derek. He had such skill with that slide that I almost couldn’t believe it. Eric found a good catch getting him to play with him this tour.
Eric headed off stage as Cocaine ended… and I knew he’d be back. I took a few moments to look at the people around me. They were hyped up, clapping, waiting for Eric to come back out. We waited… we knew a good encore was coming and, for me, it was the greatest encore I’ve had the pleasure of seeing from Eric, live or on DVD.
Sunshine Of Your Love is a good song, but his concerts needed a change…and he provided it. Once again, my guitar playing self loves Crossroads, so I was in eager expectation of that song. And it came… with Robert Cray yet again. From the opening drums from Steve Jordan to the strumming from Eric, I was excited and ready for this great song. And then the curve ball came… Robert took a quick stride up to the mic and began singing! A pleasant surprise, to be sure! And as is expected from that song, the solo work from the guitarists was excellent. Including Willie on bass, there were five guitar players on stage. Now that is what I call a concert.
Unfortunately, it came to an end. But it was a great concert… And I look forward to the next time Eric is in town, hopefully with a much better concert (though, in reality, such a thing would be difficult to achieve).
Review by Joseph Aiello – Chicago, IL
Last night was the first time I had the pleasure to witness the magic that is Eric Clapton live. I was there with my father (his 28th time) and my sister (her 2nd EC show). I grew up on Eric’s music but I never had the chance to see him in concert. I can sum up the show in just a few words: In my 27 years on earth, I have never seen anything so amazing.
The Robert Cray Band blew my mind and was the perfect set up to the main act. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t play longer because I was really digging the music. "Poor Johnny" was the highlight of the set for me. After the opening 30min set and about 30min of set up time, the lights went down and Eric and his band took the stage.
From the opening song to the final bow, this show did not disappoint. The highlights for me were "Running on Faith", "Little Queen of Spades", and the "Wonderful Tonight/Layla/Cocaine" ending. The band he has with him on this tour is incredible. Derek Trucks was the standout during last night’s show (well… second of course to Eric). His slide skills are killer and he was the perfect compliment to Eric’s guitar work. The only downside for me was that "Wonderful Tonight" seemed short but it did seamlessly move into "Layla" (which was OUTSTANDING!).
I’ve had the change to see some amazing acts in my life such as The Rolling Stones, Elton John/Billy Joel, and The Grateful Dead… but this was a show you tell your grand kids about. I would love for this show to be released on DVD or CD so I can relive it over and over.
Review by Michael Marbach
This was my first Eric Clapton concert, but I can now be sure that it will not be the last! The Show was incredible from start to finish. Robert Cray was amazing! And Eric and the guys were phenomenal! I would have liked to have seen more dates in Chicago… but maybe EC can do a little something with that on the next tour. I brought my mother up from Indianapolis for the show and she too thought it was amazing. She’s been to many, many of EC’s shows, but even she said this show was unbelievable. I’m looking SO forward to the next one!
Review by Farid Habib
Wow, I have been to some pretty good damn shows but this one tops my list! This was my first time seeing him live and it certainly wont be my last! I cant describe the state i was (and still am) when i saw and HEARD one of the greatest guitar players of all time! God himself, Mr. Eric CLapton! The show was just orgasmic! Yes, ORGASMIC! I mean, perfection and pure beauty in every note and riff…If i die now, i will die a happy happy man.
Review by Tina Mann – Chicago, Illinois
Just have to say WOW!!! Last nights show at the united center has to be one of the best I’ve ever seen. He continues to amaze, entertain and literally blow you away even after all these years. I can only say Eric’s like a good scotch, it gets better with age!
Review by Richard Sutton
I attended the EC concert at the United Center last evening. As an avid Clapton fan I have now seen him in concert about 15 times over many years and at a lot of different venues. The EC I heard last night was him at his very best. His guitar playing was inspired, his vocals were strong and he seemed to be really focused. It seems to me like he is much more energized and I wonder if this is a result of him now being a happily married man with a new family or the fact that he has surrounded himself with two other superb guitarists that push him to higher limits. How can you not like Clapton? Here is a guy who is arguable the greatest guitar player of all time, has written some of the greatest rock/blues songs of all time and continues to surrounds himself with extraordinary talented musicians. I’m going to Detroit this weekend to see him again and can’t wait.
Review by Scott Lyson, Maple Grove, MN
The Good, the bad, and the ugly. Chicago vs. St. Paul. Night 2 Review
STILL MIND BLOWING!!
Seeing Clapton and company play at the United Center in Chicago was quite a treat. This was my second concert of this tour. Instead of composing another lengthy, poorly written, sometimes baffling review, I will compare notes between the concert in Chicago and the opening night show in St. Paul at the Xcel Energy Center. It may appear more critical than it should be taken. Not supposed to be anywhere close to critical as that gent from the press.
The Good: In St. Paul I had a superb seat in the center section, but the wild couple in front of me was quite a distraction and often annoying. In Chicago, with many thanks to EC Access, I had a front row seat in the middle section behind the front and center crowd. Had a lot of space to relax and really enjoy the show. This time truly enjoying and appreciating the action live on the stage highlighted by the marvelous lightshow. Love the Vertigo feel on Layla! On this night Clapton came to the stage in a much more pleasant wardrobe consisting of a pink shirt. Had enough of the navy blue! I noticed a different Clapton in Chicago. He was much more of a bluesman than in St. Paul. I’m sure that was to be expected though. Early on the highlights were Got to Get Better in a Little While whith Willie Weeks taking a great solo. Again, Everybody Oughta Make a Change brought the crowd to their feet with a huge response. Motherless Children was fantastic! Clapton’s slide work brought out so! me comi cal air guitar by the gentlemen sitting next to me. Tim Carmon and Chris Stainton provided marvelous solos and got standing ovations on Old Love and Little Queen of Spades respectively. The acoustic and sit-down set was much improved from the St. Paul show! Crossroads was sensational! Didn’t get to see the beginning in St. Paul. Five amazing guitar solos and Robert Cray taking lead vocals with Clapton. Perfect way to end the show!
The Bad: It was a bit cooler in Chicago and despite the fact Clapton was wearing a long sleeve shirt, he seemed to have cooled a little bit since St. Paul. The emotion and excitement of the opening night had diminished. The band was much tighter and more restrained than opening night. Eric’s playing was more traditional and bluesy in Chicago. Not just Eric but Doyle and Derek as well. Doyle had some great moments but didn’t have the bite he did in St. Paul. Derek was noticeably much more confined to his more traditional playing on Little Queen of Spades. Don’t get me wrong they were still magnificent and blew me away, just not quite as good. Eric was back to his recognizable solo on Cocaine. No note bending teases or build up, that was left for Chris. Layla’s second half with Derek and Eric feeding off each other wasn’t as enjoyable this time. They were playing much higher up the fretboard previously. I’ve about people talk about Clapton going in to that zone when he just seems like he ‘s going through the motions. Was he in that zone in Chicago? Absolutely not. He and the band were just more loose and emotive in St. Paul. Not just Eric and his band, Cray as well. Only played for half an hour in Chicago compared to the 40 min set in St. Paul.
A young girl around 17 was all over a guy who eventualy gave the girl some alcohol…that ended coming up and the young girl vomitted all over the floor. Gross.
I’ll say this again, see as many concerts as you can on this tour!! I personally thought the band was a bit better in St. Paul, but even so, this band rocks! Eric is still much more energetic and his playing is still exceeding his playing from the 04′ tour! Eric has assembled one amazing group of all-star musicians, yet none can ever outshine Mr. Eric Clapton!
Review by Andy Schonert
After reading all of the reviews of the Clapton concert at the United Center, I had to send in one of my own. That night was very magical for me. Not only did I get to see Eric for the 7th time, I also got to share the experience with the love of my life. It meant so much to me, being there in what I call the "House Of God" with the woman I love listening to what I think was Clapton at his best. To start a show with "Pretending" reminded me of the hours I spent listening to 24 Nights and trying to figure out, on guitar, all of Clapton’s live tricks. The extended version of "I Shot the Sheriff" was excellent and the addition of some of the older EC songs was great as I’ve not heard them live before. The acoustic set was phenomenal and possibly the highlight of the show for me. "Back Home" is the best song off of Eric’s new album and Derek Trucks and Steve Jordan really helped to keep that "recorded" vibe. "Nobody Knows You" made me feel like I was in that hall where Unplugged was recorded, and "Running On Faith" made me realize again, that Journeyman is Clapton’s best work. A rousing version of "After Midnight" was later followed up with another highlight, "Motherless Children". I love that song, and the slide work is so good. Eric started the beginning of the end with Wonderful Tonight", a favorite of my girlfriend and I and yet another reason why this night was so special. To hear the opening notes cut through the dull roar of the United Center sent shivers up my spine. To look over and see my girlfriend’s smile meant the world to me. All and all, I’ve seen Clapton in Milwaukee, Chicago and Dallas for the Crossroads Festival, and this is the best I’ve heard him play and sing. He gets better with age. I look forward to the future.
Review by Rich Kozerski / Lisle, IL
I have seen The Man in concert several times but this was the best by far. His new band is very tight and he has wisely downloaded some of the heavy lifting to the able fingers of Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramall. To see and hear Robert Cray was just some icing on a very tasty cake. The highlight to me was "Motherless Children" – it never sounded better. I just hope this set with this band is released as a live CD. To top it all off, I was in the middle of the front row courtesy of my sister Janet to whom I will forever be in debt. We were so close we could see the vibration of the guitar strings! All-in-all this was a night of music I’ll never forget