Venue: Sports Paleis
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
The Kick Horns (Simon Clarke – baritone saxophone, Roddy Lorimer – trumpet, Tim Sanders – tenor saxophone)
Robert Cray Band
Robert Cray – guitar / vocals*
02. So Tired
03. Got To Get Better In A Little While
04. Bell Bottom Blues
05. After Midnight
06. Little Queen Of Spades
07. Let It Rain
08. Back Home
09. I Am Yours
10. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
11. Running On Faith
12. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?
13. Everybody Oughta Make A Change
14. Motherless Children
15. Wonderful Tonight
18. Crossroads (encore)*
Review by Bart Verbesselt – Nieuwenrode (Belgium)
I think I saw God last night. Yes, EC was in Antwerp for his Belgium part of The "Back Home" tour. I discovered EC with the single "Behind The Mask" from the August album in 1985, I was only 12 years old, but I was touched by a beautiful guitar riff. Since then I’m a fan. The first time I saw him play live was in 1992 in Gent. It was magic to see and hear him live and I can guarantee you he is still magical. EC is still the best and that’s been proven last night here in Antwerp. What a great band and what a show. You can see he is enjoying himself on the stage.
And what to see about the set list. He changed a few songs from the previous shows (no Sheriff was shot, no Old Love and no Milcow Blues). Instead he played a outstanding version of Bell Bottom Blues, Let It Rain and Why Does Love Got To Be So Bad. He also changed the running order.
Nice to hear again the old ones like Pretending, Running On Faith and certainly Motherless Children, one of the highlights of the concert for me. Other brilliant moments : Little Queen Of Spades , Layla (what a guitar riff) and Crossroads (with Robert Cray). All because of the amazing guitar playing of Eric, Derek and Doyle. He’s got a really great band now : Derek, Doyle, Chris (Stainton) and Steve Jordan on drums.
He played not so many blues songs, but instead he gave the gig e really good rhythm. After all he’s got so many good songs he can play (White Room, I sot The Sheriff, Old Love, Tears In Heaven, She’s Gone, River Of Tears, Holy Mother, Badge to name a few). Maybe we could ask EC that the next time he can do a 4 hour concert. I want also to mention that EC has a very good warm up with Robert Cray. He’s got the blues in his body like EC. Thank you Eric for giving me (us) some great music and great live shows. I hope he will continue to make albums and do some more tours in the future. Now I’m sure. GOD IS NOT A DJ, HE’S A GUITARPLAYER.
Review by Alain Van Brussel / Brussels – Belgium
Buying a ticket for an Eric Clapton concert is a little like ordering a German car, you know you will get quality and craftmanship. and this is exactly what happened yesterday : a perfect first part with Robert Cray and his band (in my opinion one if not THE best singers of the blues scene). Offering very good song and not to be classified in the 3 chords category. Then comes Eric : a very "American" sounding band with an opening number that’s there for a purpose ("Working on the sound of the band tryin’ to get the music right…") and some very nice medleys. a few numbers I would not have expected and a very previsible end of concert but I guess that’s what every average clapton fan wants to hear !
The highlights for me : the twin slides of Eric and doyle on "Motherless Children", the first number of the acoustic set in duo with Derek, Derek’s slide work on "Lil’ Queen of Spades" and Derek’s solo building in "Cocaine" (he uses the two last notes of a phrae to start a new one and so pushes his final solo to the very top).
By the way what seems to be a very impressive line up turns out to be a little too much (even for the musicians themselves : three guitar players is a whole bunch and Doyle and Derek sometimes do look as if they don’t know what to do). Also in the first part of the concert they seem to follow the same type of pattern : Eric sings – Doyle takes a solo – Derek takes a solo – Eric takes a solo – Eric sings. But all in all a very good evening with the cream of the crop and a splendid discovery : thank you Eric for putting Derek Trucks in the spotlights : the guy is a mean slide player and he looks like an angel with devil hands !
Review by George Coppens / Antwerp, Belgium
After a night of sleep I’m still exited about the concert. Robert Cray as expected was very good, but everybody was waiting for the main man. The setlist was very different from the previous concerts. I was a little disapointed that "Old Love" and "I Shot The Sheriff" were replaced by other songs. I really wanted to hear "Old Love"; I have seen it on DVD but never heard it live.
Doyle and Derek are two outstanding guitarplayers but there is only one EC. I think EC was in a great form and had fun on the stage. Concerts like this should last forever.
At first I was a little disapointed Eric replaced Steve Gadd and Nathan East but I must say Steve Jordan is a hell of a drummer. This was the 4th year in a row I saw EC performing and must say that like wine, he gets better every year. I hope he will come again next year. And yes on guitar EC IS GOD.
Review by Wim / Belgium
I returned home last night with mixed feelings. Certainly there were some precious jewels on the familiar carpet, like "Queen of Spades", "I Am Yours", "After Midnight" and "Running on Faith", but other songs from the set were performed with just a little too much of an automatic pilot attitude. "Cocaine" was the very low of the set, going on and on and completely lacking any direction or conviction. Eric seemed indeed very relaxed, but at a certain point this easy feeling came across as a lack of interest. And a handfull of "Thank You"’s was the only direct contact with the crowd. The sound mix was below average where we sat, but that is not unusual in the Antwerp Sports
The band played very tight, but could certainly do with a more limited line-up. Doyle and Tim could have been dropped without any significant effect on the overall sound. And the horns were much too far in the mix. On the good side we saw a fantastic Steve Jordan, putting his entire soul into every beat and replacing the more clinical perfection drum style of Steve Gadd with a very emotional bluesy beat. On the guitar Doyle was really outpaced by Derek in both diversity and speed. With Derek on board I think Eric can leave Doyle home for future tours.
All in all, a handfull of real gems and two great new band members, but this was not one of the best EC shows that I have seen. I think I am gonna watch the Reptile show on DVD tonight.
Review by Koen Hermans / Antwerp, Belgium
Been to the Antwerp show and although I’m not a fan I have to admit that both Robert Cray and Eric Clapton know how to play that guitar. "Got to get better" was by far the best song of the show to me. Unfortunately,the interaction with the audience was zero, nada. The only thing Eric did was saying "merci beaucoup" although he should realize that Antwerp is a Flemish region.
Review by Johan Vanhecke
After reading all the reviews I was expecting a strong concert. I must say I was very disappointed. I saw Eric in the early nineties and that concert was in my memory unforgettable. But in Antwerp I saw only a few performances I could really appreciate (Motherless Children). Even classics like Bell Bottom Blues and Layla didn’t sound convincing.
A lot of the solos (guitar as wel as piano) were boring and seemed to be repeated in other songs. The singing of Eric was not always as you could expect. The show started well, but after three songs the sound became a bit chaotic. Maybe the sound quality of the Sportpaleis is not so good. Well, in general it was a disappointment.
Review by Jens Gabriel / Belgium
Strange how people react in different ways to the concert. I saw EC last year* at the same location, the Antwerp Sportpaleis and back then, I was thrilled: the sound was superb, the soloing crisp and the band played as a team. This year however, I was a bit dissapointed. The sound was very muddy. Especially the voices weren’t clear and I didn’t hear the horns. Maybe I just sat on a blind spot (under the balcony).
I also prefer Steve Gadd to Steve Jordan, but that’s personal taste. Nonetheless, the drums didn’t come trough the mix (especially the toms). I also think they could have done without Doyle and the Hammond player. Chris Stainton was in great shape, I have heard/seen him play on different DVD’s/live and I must say he surprised me a lot.
I absolutely adore Clapton’s playing, he’s the greatest in my humble opinion, but yesterday, he didn’t really shine. Derek Trucks (the blonde guitar player) was the star of the evening if you ask me. I know Clapton could have done a lot better, but I also realise you can’t be God night after night. The Sportpaleis is not the best place for a concert like this, but then again, where else would you do a concert like this in Belgium?
* Where’s Eric! Editorial Note: Eric’s last solo tour was in 2004.
Review by Philippe
I have been a big fan of EC’s since the very day I picked up my first guitar 24 years ago. He was then and still is the most remarkable guitarist on Planet Earth. Yesterday, I was in Antwerp, Belgium and it was the 11th time I had seen EC in concert. I am lucky enough to have seen all his concerts since 1986, some I even saw twice thanks to professional travels. I was looking forward to seeing him again yesterday in Antwerp because the Sportpaleis is an excellent concert hall, the acoustic is fantastic.
I am a keen reader of your Web site and I knew what to expect as far as the set list was concerned. I am not a big fan of "big bands" but I am always open to listening to new renditions of songs I know even though two keyboards and horns seemed a bit over the top for me.
I will not hide that yesterday evening when I left Antwerp, I did feel disappointed and cheated. The set list we were offered Yesterday had lost its appeal and even worse, EC replaced the songs we were all waiting for by ,sorry guys, extremely boring or / and bad songs. In the acoustic set, the song "I am yours" fell horribly flat! "Why does love got to be so sad" was almost inaudible. I felt cheated because even though I know EC is not the most talkative guy on the planet, his guitar does that very well for him, he is usually friendlier and has the courtesy of introducing his brilliant musicians.
I hope that people who saw him live for the first time yesterday enjoyed it, for the others like me, I cannot possibly believe that they did. I am sorry EC but yesterday Robert Cray and your brilliant new slide guitarist stole the show.
Review by Dave Sweeney
From reading the reviews it seems like people were at different shows! I first saw EC in Dublin in 1977 and maybe about fivetimes since. For my money, and I write as a guitar player, this was a great shoe. The interplay between the three guitar players was superb and seemed to spur each of them to newer heights as time passed. Yes I would have liked to hear ‘Anyday’ but we got five songs from the Layla album (all great) and a magical ‘Let it Rain’ – loved the backing singers in that one. EC made the classic Antwerp mistake for visiting musos ‘Merci Beaucoups’ instead of ‘Dank u Bel’ but he seemde much more focused on playing to the extent that he never introduced the band. I have never seen him so happy onstage – jumping around with feet that would not stay still. The accoustics were not great but thats Sportspaleis – still beats an outdoor show at Heysel. Inspiring and, believe me, a great show. Derek and Doyle alone are worth the admission money.
Review by Frederick Defraeye
Two years ago we missed the Robert Randolph Band by a few minutes. Fortunately yesterday evening we were well in time for the Robert Cray Band, for Cray’s powerful vocals and soulful unique guitar playing proved to be the perfect warm-up for the EC show. In addition to more up-tempo songs like ‘Phone Booth’ and ‘Back Door Slam’ the band performed ‘send-shivers-down-your-spine versions’ of ‘Twenty’ and ‘Time Makes Two’. All too soon really Cray’s set ended. Thankfully, we would have Robert back on stage later on for the encore.
Half an hour later the stage lit back up and on strolled EC and his new (superb) band. Pretending proved to be a very well-chosen show opener immediately setting the stage for an evening full of funky and powerful blues-rock music. Next came So tired with Derek Trucks providing the song with some very tasty slide guitar accents. So tired segued (perfectly) into Got to get Better in a Little While (my favorite Dominos song) which was an early highlight for me, featuring ferocious guitar work by all three guitarists. Next was Bell Bottom Blues followed by After Midnight which featured again extended solos by all three guitarists (including the ‘classic’ recognizable solo by EC). Next came Little Queen of spades in which Doyle produced a really great Stevie Ray Vaughan-type solo. Let it Rain added to the ‘Derek and the Dominoes’- feel this band recreates very well.
During the sit-down acoustic set EC selflessly and graciously put Derek in the spotlight. The latter embellished the songs with well-considered and perfectly chosen guitar licks and solos. As has been said, his remarkable slide guitar technique especially shines on Running on Faith.
After this came another highlight: Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad. Another great Dominos song which, in my opinion, surpassed the original. Great funky riff intertwined with jaw-dropping solos. Everybody ought to make a change was linked with Motherless Children, which, indeed, was very impressive and created the, as mentioned before, the wall of (slide guitar) sound. Wonderful Tonight was short but very well played and featured some sweet guitar playing by EC. Layla was next and, indeed,Eric did the first signature (intro) solo (high position on the neck) and not Doyle or Derek. Cocaine concluded the set and Crossroads (encore) served as the final of many of last night’s lessons in guitar techniques.
Overall the overall sound in the Sportpaleis was (and has always been) less than great and Willie Weeks never seemed to get really into the mix, which is a great shame. And unless this was also due to the poor mix, I heard only one keyboard solo by Tim Carmon (a very nice ‘cool spacey sound’ solo on Cocaine) which unfortunately was not responded to by the audience.
Nonetheless, it was evening of superb musicianship showcasing the incredible abilities of three very diverse sounding guitarists. EC’s status as musician is only further enhanced by the fact that he allows these two superb guitar players to step into the limelight. In return they push EC to deliver the incomparable guitar playing we’ve come to expect from him. As far as his vocals are concerned, they just keep getting better.
As has been said many times in earlier show reviews, Eric seems genuinely happy to be on stage, having fun. During a particular song, for instance, Doyle was going towards the end of a very nice solo and decided to go on for a few extra bars whilst looking over to EC with a naughty grin on his face, who responded with a smile and a shake of the head before taking over the guitar work.
Some people sometimes seem to be almost offended by the fact that Eric doesn’t interact too much with the audience. That’s just the way EC is as a performer, he interacts through his music. He more than once thanked the audience after songs with ‘Merci Beaucoup’ which was a very nice touch and that’s about all I need in terms of in-between-song interaction. EC has never been very talkative in front of an audience, and I’m fine with that. It’s the superb music that made me an Eric Clapton fan.
I sure hope that some or one these shows will make it onto an official DVD release sometime next year, for I can hardly wait to go see Eric and his new fantastic band again in the future. Long live Eric and the great music has given us!
Review by Eddy Pollet / Belgium
" … with the echoes of the amplifiers ringing in my head … " (name this song !) … I returned from the Sports Palace in Antwerp after having enjoyed a really great show from EC and his band . I arrived a bit before 7 PM to be sure to have a good spot … I deliberately had opted for standing since all the seats in this huge venue are quite far away from the stage, or, when they are closer, they’re at the side, which isn’t ideal for stiff necks 🙂 . Anyway, Robert Cray appeared at around 8:15 and played for about 45 minutes… certainly not bad, but definitely a support act. Only using the front part of the stage, certainly not at full volume, almost no light effects and with the emphasis on trying to sell some copies of his newest CD, not playing any of his better known songs (at least not to me) . Some excellent guitar playing however, but in his typical style, with very little sustain and a rather thin sound . The other musicians (drums, bass and keyboards) were solid professionals, but not very interested … truly auto-pilot .
They ended a bit after 9 PM, and by that time, my feet were really hurting … my toes asleep from standing too long on the same square centimetre 🙂
Removing Cray’s gear and rearranging EC’s took a bit over 20 minutes, so almost precisely at 9:30, first the band and then EC made their appearance on stage, loudly applauded … EC as very talkative 🙂 … he said "Bonsoir – Good Evening – Goede Avond" and then they took off with "Pretending", with a first solo from EC, who as really relaxed and gave the impression of being in an excellent mood . Derek Trucks also featured with some great slide guitar, very melodic and imho definitely a plus for the band … besides that he played a Gibson … I don’t know the exact type, but it as red and had 6 strings .
To cut this a bit short, I’m not going to detail every song, but I’ll give some more general impressions. This was in the first place an all guitar band, despite the fact that there were two backup singers : no "babes", but relatively tastefully dressed and certainly excellent voices . However, they were backup singers they didn’t play a prominent role like e.g. Katie Kissoon, Marcy Levy or Yvonne Elliman did … with all my respect for them, but I don’t think they would have been missed, although they added something to the overall sound .
There were also three horn players, but they were also in the back of the stage and I can’t remember having really heard them . Btw, I was in front of the middle of the stage, at and estimated 20 ft from EC, with the speakers from the PA high above me and beaming into the venue behind me . Therefore, I heard more of the direct sound than of the PA, and it is possible -and even likely- that the people further away, had a better balanced sound than I did. Of the two keyboard players, it was only Chris Stainton who featured a few times, like in the coda from Layla, but his role was certainly less prominent than the one he had in earlier tours I saw.
The rhythm section was really solid, but to be honest, I don’t know if the difference with Gadd, East and/or Ferrone was really significant … several songs were speeded up, but I don’t think this was a choice made by them …
I’m convinced that they rehearsed it like this and that this speed was intended,
And then, there was the 3 guitar line-up … I liked Doyle much better than the previous time I saw him and he certainly was very enthusiastic in his playing … in Cocaine he nodded three times at EC to say "take it again !" which EC refused (unfortunately) and his lines were really inspired and well constructed . At the beginning, he was really focused, as if he was a bit unsure, but that disappeared after a few songs . Most of the time, he reminded me of Andy Fairweather-Low … solid but relatively unnoticed, except then for the solo’s he took. Derek is, like I already said, definitely a plus for the band … his slide adds a lot to the overall sound and he delivered some truly great fills and solos. He also constructs his solo’s well, but from what I heard, he got stuck a few times and missed a few notes, which certainly doesn’t mean that he’s not good, only that he’s human . He as also very much concentrated on his playing, and I have the impression that he doesn’t yet really feel at ease on this tour, or at least at this concert.
And then, of course EC himself … being close to him, I really enjoyed the beauty of his movements … without being overly lyrical about it, but especially his right hand is comparable to the perfect swing in golf, or the smooth moves of Roger Federer on the tennis court, or like Bekele running 5 or 10 km … when Robert Cray does some fast picking, he right arm seems to cramp … when EC does the same, it stays fluent, like if he could do it twice as fast (perhaps he could ?) without any seemless effort and with a precision I never saw from anybody else. I think that technically spoken, I never saw him play as good as he did … and I had the impression he was having a good time, enjoying the tightness of his band … but he didn’t give me the shivers like he usually does (but that could have been caused by the not ideal sound from where I was standing), and towards the end, I had the impression that he had to catch a bus or so, but he certainly was on par with his own standards!
Highlight to me certainly was "Motherless Children" … very fast and with the three playing slide and soloing at the same time … a real treat . The encore, Crossroads, was, like usual, the band at full volume, and rocking like anything that rocks, with Robert Cray making a guest appearance, but not really being part of the band.
Less positive was that, after having been standing in the same spot for 4.5 hours, as soon as the band left the stage and the applauding had stopped, I suddenly remembered that my feet were really hurting and that my back was virtually broken, and that it took me over an hour to be able to leave the parking places .
In conclusion, I’d say that you definitely shouldn’t attend this tour if you don’t like the sound of a guitar … in any other case … be sure not to miss this !
Review by Keith Gunthardt / Zurich (visit to Antwerp)
Antwerp was an interesting concert because it elicited so many different reactions. From the reviews it is clear that quite a few people were disappointed with eric’s choice of songs and performance, whereas others went home in great spirits. It seems to me that sound quality is key. I usually try to get as close to the stage as possible. In Antwerp I sat as far back and as high up as you can go – right by the spotlight trained on Eric. Oddly enough the sound up there was truly fantastic. Although I could only see the musicians from the screens I had a commanding view of the whole arena and I enjoyed watching and hearing the crowd – an important ingrediant for live effect in any concert. I have previously seen Eric eleven times – in Paris, London, Zurich and Montreux. The best place to watch his fingerwork is by the stage, best place for eye-contact is ten rows out because then you’re just like a grain of sand and that’s where he looks, and the best place for sound seems to be up "in the Gods".
I’ve been waiting for Eric to blow the roof off the concet hall since 1974. In vain. He’s put down some wonderful live solos on both bootlegs and official records since then – but I was never at any of those concerts. He’s been a living legend for forty years, he’s a millionaire many times over, he’s kicked his worst habits, he has four beautiful daughters, his wife just turned 30.. it must be hard to play the blues! Nonetheless, at Antwerp I enjoyed the
way he played. It was happy music – clear as a bell.