Venue: Manchester Evening News Arena
Country: United Kingdom
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)
02. So Tired
03. Got To Get Better In A Little While
04. Lost And Found
05. I Shot The Sheriff
07. Back Home
08. I Am Yours
09. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
10. Milkcow’s Calf Blues
11. Running On Faith
12. After Midnight
13. Little Queen Of Spades
14. Everybody Oughta Make A Change
15. Motherless Children
16. Wonderful Tonight
19. Crossroads (encore)
Review by Mark Rushton / England
8.45pm and the lights go down. The band walk onstage and were off with ‘Pretending’. Doyle doing the main guitar playing until the solo when Eric’s Stratocaster takes over. It get’s better from here. This band is excellent,with the three guitar players moving around providing the sounds you hear on the albums. Derek Trucks is sensational with his slide playing a la Duane Allman and this frees Eric to deliver ace soloing or to sit back and let one of the others take over. Highlights were numerous: ‘Sheriff’ was superb with Clapton chopping chords one minute and doing those power bends the next and drummer Steve Jordan laying down a powerful reggae beat. ‘After Midnight’ was furious and segued into ‘Little Queen of Spades’where all 3 guitar players stretched out. ‘Motherless Children’ had Eric and Derek tearing out the riff on dual slide guitar and it was like an express train. The closing double whammy of Layla / Cocaine brought the audience to their feet and the single encore of ‘Crossroads’ sent us off into the night.
Superb guitar playing from three superb but different players and solid rhythm from Steve Jordan and Willie Weeks. Now for Sheffield on Friday although the audience is never as good there,being more ‘restrained’
Review by James Flood / Leeds, Eingland
Wow! What a fantastic night. Eric was in fantastic form. He looked very well and very relaxed. The head was back from the start and lots of smiles indicating he was clearly enjoying himself. Derek’s guitar playing is superb. He is a real talent. There were many highlights including Sheriff and Milkcow but the ‘new sheriff’ hasto be After Midnight. I notice that a lot of people have commented on the sound but this was not evident in Manchester last night. For all those who haven’t got tickets get some and for those who have some you are in for a real treat.
Review by Ripley / Manchester, England
Robert Cray received a warm welcome from the Manchester crowd, although his playing has always lacked the fire and punch to get me too excited, but a tight enough band if a little aged. Then the main event as Eric (tanned in jeans and salmon pink shirt) and band entered the stage and a sense of deja vu from the Journeyman Tour 1990 came over me as a tinkling of piano released the full on wah of Eric’s intro to ‘Pretending’.
What followed was 2 hours of almost retro Clapton as we spent most of the evening in the 1970’s company of Derek (with Derek) and a welcome return to 461 Ocean Boulevard. The Dominos songs were an absolute treat and the inclusion of the gifted Derek Trucks to the band has brought a new dimension thebands sound. I’ve discovered a new guitar talent that todate has passed me by, but one that I’ll be watching closely from now on. In the same way that Clapton builds his solos in ‘I Shot the Sheriff’, Trucks’ solo in ‘Little Queen of Spades’ took his screaming slide sound from one level to the next. Doyle Bramhall lent what support he could when required, and adequately filled Bobby Whitlock’s part on ‘Anyday’. The acoustic set had the perfect mix of old and new andreceived a cheer from the audience at the recognisable intro to ‘Unplugged’s’ ‘Nobody Knows You…’
A full on ‘After Midnight’, with weak brass accompaniment kickstarted the second electric set and Motherless Children took off at what can only be described as ‘hell for leather’ pace, with Bramhall and Trucks passing glances to each other as they struggled to keep up. The Layla / Cocaine ending closed the evening with again Truck’s slide work on the piano coda bringing the Allman sound back where it belongs. I’d hardly noticed that the ‘subtle’ horns had disappeared by this point and quite frankly they weren’t missed. This is a loud band and maybe it was a poor mix (again – if you read previous reviews). The backing singers were rarely audible also , but swayed well and played a mean tambourine. The Crossroads encore (no Robert Cray) gave everyone a last chance to shine, and then with a bow and a wave they were gone.
Clapton is very much the leader of the band, but happy for others to share the limelight and showcase. His playing didn’t seem to have the fluidity that it often has, and at times the theming of his solos seemed stifled and didn’t always deliver the time stopping passion we’ve come to expect. I imagine he’ll grow into the tour and the new band soon, and will begin to feel relaxed enough to catch the magic. But, even for a Clapton addict like me an average EC performance is still a gift to behold and I thoroughly recommend fans of either Derek to make every effort to see them in action together.
Review by M. Cato
WOW!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t find a superlative to express what I want to say about tonight’s show, in just one word. I have been waiting 35 years to see Clapton live, and now that I have, I want those previous 35 years of Clapton performances back. For a decrepit geezer (his words, not mine) I think he was amazing. I’ve seen some of the DVDs of his shows, but as everyone knows, nothing is like being there. So, for me with no previous Clapton gig to compare it to, it took the cake!
The man was on stage for two solid hours. Typical you say, of a Clapton show. Yeah, but after 40 years?!?!? I am even more bedazzled that he can perform songs like Wonderful Tonight and Cocaine while still keeping the sound fresh. Not only that, but there was no gimmericky. No bullshit. Just music. Fantastic. He played almost every song I wanted to hear him perform live. Maybe later he’ll do One Day and Revolution. There was the usual from his guy Doyle Bramhall II, but that kid Derek Trucks … he was simply brilliant. If he learns from Clapton, what Clapton learned from the masters ( Muddy Waters, B.B. King, etc.) This kid has got a boundless future ahead of him.
My tickets to tonight’s show were a gift from a old rock & roller from the 60s who knows I love good music and had never seen Clapton live. He didn’t know I had already sold my first born to get tickets to the last Clapton show at the Royal Albert Hall. No I haven’t actually sold my first born, but that is just how dear too me seeing that show is for me. Hopefully he’s no more tired than he was tonight just before the encore. All I wanna say is, Mr. Clapton, please don’t retire. Was there anything I didn’t like about the gig? Yeah, I didn’t like the jeans he wore. I’ve got notes to add more, but want to save them for after the RAH show for a comparrison of the shows.
Review by Leuan Rees / England
First outing to see EC for me this tour. Also going to the NEC and RAH so we shall see how things progress. A brilliant (but far too short) set from Robert Cray. A 45 minute wait and EC takes the stage. Straight into Pretending â€“ a much missed favourite of mine. Things look a bit tense up on stage at the start but by the time we get through the first four or five numbers the smiles are all around. EC takes a bit of a back seat letting Doyle and Derek get a good workout in the first few songs. EC cuts loose in I Shot The Sheriff. Whilst his playing is not as incendiary as on the last tour he is on good form.
Five acoustic numbers and a welcome return of Running On Faith. Brilliant Anyday and rip roaring After Midnight. A stunning Little Queen Of Spades and a breathtaking Motherless Children with slide guitar harmonies all around. A slightly different approach for the solo in Wonderful Tonight (surely due a rest?) and into Layla and Cocaine. All too soon EC and the band leave the stage. Closing the night out with Crossroads â€“ without Robert Cray â€“ which is a great shame.
Overall a very good gig; the crowd certainly enjoyed the show. At times I felt that three guitars was a bit much but considering the number of players on stage the band were very tight. EC’s playing was not as monumental as last time out but it’s early days in the tour yet!
Review by Steve Roberts / Wrexham, England
I attended last nights concert in Manchester and the show was brilliant! E.C. in fine form with his unsurpassable guitar work and his voice as good as ever. I’d read the reviews from France about last fridays gig and can only say that the balance of sound here was excellent. I could always hear the horn section and rightly so, they were not overpowering. E.C’s guitar was slightly louder than his band as it should be. Excellent set list, which I was enjoying too much to be writing it down, but from what I remember, it was the same as last week
We had the impressive Robert Cray Band on as support, and he set the scene admirably,although for me a support act is a pain. We pay to see the main man and have to sit there on an uncomfortable seat far too long. A delay followed whilst roadies changed equipment around and did final sound check. All this should have been done earlier, with no support. If these main performers want to give extra value for money, then why not just do 20 minutes longer. (Not just aimed at E.C.) All in all tho’ he was fantastic and the rest of tour will thrill thousands. Go and see him, you will be amazed, still THE MAN!!
Review by John Callaghan
Great show, well balanced, a cool light show and nice to hear some more songs from his back catalogue.How does the man keep on getting better with each passing year? Is there a painting in his attic? Standout tracks:
Got To Get Better In a Little While
Little Queen of Spades
Running On Faith
My only gripe is that he doesn’t need Derrick Trucks. Great guitarist that he is the guy adds nothing to the line-up and seems out of place with EC’s music. With Doyle Bramall on board (who is a good foil for EC) he only needs a rhythm guitarist to beef up the line up (AFL maybe?). Why Tim Carmon? The guy was so under used last night, a good Hammond player is all that’s required. Right gripes over, let’s hope that the collaboration with JJ Cale is out on CD this year?
Review by Alan Roughley, St Helens
It is instructive to read the widely differing opinions of the sound quality at Manchester, as well as at other large arenas like Glasgow and Sheffield, and also of the show itself. Maybe this has to do with exactly where you were sitting.
From my position near the back of the MEN Arena, the sound and volume were the poorest I have experienced at any EC concert since the early nineties. At concerts in Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham going back 14 years, the sound had always been excellent. I can’t help feeling the over-staffed band had an effect on this.
As for Eric, he was on good form, but I wanted to hear his vocals coming out more strongly from that mush of a mix. He did play some great guitar at times, and I Shot the Sheriff and Little Queen of Spades were the best numbers of the night. Motherless Children might have been great too with a decent mix. The acoustic set was underwhelming (more Blues please !), and much of the rest was just a wall of sound. At some points I yearned for the return of Nathan East and Steve Gadd et al. I treasure the memory of shows at Sheffield & Manchester from 1992, and From the Cradle 1995, 1996 and later ones, where virtually every number was a stand-out, not just two or three. This didn’t come close.
Review by M. Whitlock
I have followed Eric Clapton since the Yardbirds but have never seen him live until his Manchester gig. It was truly wonderful. Very professional, the band was tight and they all worked very hard. The visual presentation was great. The 26 yr old Derek was outstanding with a style that complimented Eric’s. The guitar playing transported me to a higher place. I also thought the drummer to be exceptionally clever and the girl singers were complimentary to the whole of the presentation. If I didn’t know better I would have thought Eric was in his forties playing well and making his guitar speak.