Venue: Key Arena
Country: United States
Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Doyle Bramhall II – guitar / vocals
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*
01. Tell The Truth
02. Key To The Highway
03. Got To Get Better In A Little While
04. Little Wing
05. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?
07. Outside Woman Blues
08. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
09. Running On Faith
10. Motherless Children
11. Little Queen Of Spades
12. Further On Up The Road
13. Wonderful Tonight
15. Cocaine (encore)
16. Crossroads (encore)*
Review by T.White – Portland, Oregon
Okay, it is about 12:30am and I have returned to my hotel after a blistering night of music (mostly guitars) at Key Arena in Seattle. Make no mistake, Key Arena is designed for basketball. While few arenas if any lend themselves to good acoustics, I would rate Key Arena somewhere above average after tonights performance. The levels were just about perfect and the mix very enjoyable allowing the audience an opportunity to appreciate the dynamics of the performance. Congratulations to the sound crew as it just does not get much better than tonight in buildings like this.
As I understand it, the Cray/Clapton tour played a sold out Arco Arena Tuesday night in Sacramento. From there EC and company made their way to Seattle for a day off. And whilst Clapton and his chaps feasted at tables with linen and watched Survivor (or maybe American Idol), Robert Cray and his group went to Portland, traveled nearly 2-hours by SUV to the central Oregon town of Bend (population 75,000) and played a gig Wednesday night. Today the Cray folks hustled up here to Seattle in time for tonights show. So right away before the first string is plucked, I have already given Robert Cray the "Hardest Working Man In Show Business (At least this week) Award".
Robert Cray and his band appeared (looking surprisingly fresh) on stage right at 7:30pm and launched into a near 35-minute set of great material. As is typical, "Bob" was playing his signature series Fender Strats through what looked to be two Matchless amps/bottoms. This is the fourth time I have seen Robert Cray perform. His musicianship is spot-on and his vocal range and power is nothing short of excellent. I cannot help but feel he just does not get enough respect as a player or a singer. This was best illustrated tonight by two people sitting directly in front of us engaged in constant conversation complete with hand gestures throughout Bob’s entire set. Too bad really as he just tore it up tonight.
And now, after months of anticipation and the standard 30 minute stage change, Eric Clapton casually follows his band on stage at exactly 8:06pm. I have seen EC nine times beginning with Blind Faith in 1969. You would think by now this would be just another concert for me, however I still get the same body rush every time the guy walks on. So, do you think 10 shows is enough? I think not!
Tonight Eric is dressed in blue jeans (new), a button down black short sleeve shirt and what appeared to be soft brown leather loafers. He is playing his signature series Fender Strats through what looks to be a couple of Fender Custom Shop Tweed Twin Amps (1957 Tweed Reissue) but may also be the Custom 80 amps built by Denis Cornell (redesign of the original Fender tweed twin but with Tone-tubby speakers).
Looking very comfortable as if he has enjoyed a day of boating and smoking cigars on Puget Sound, Eric launches directly into "Tell The Truth" from the Dominos era. Without hesitation he and the band are next ripping through "Key To The Highway" and "Got To Get Better In A Little While" featuring an unexpected show stopping solo by bassist Willie Weeks. I must also comment here on drummer Steve Jordan who has played with just about everyone from Keith Richards to the Letterman show. While I have enjoyed the rhythm section of Steve Gadd and Nathan East in recent years, this new combination of Jordan & Weeks brings a sort of feisty swinging vibe to this line-up and everyone looks to be having fun.
Just as I am beginning to catch my breath Eric starts to sneak around the fretboard and eventually falls into the opening phrase of "Little Wing". Next up was a bouncy "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad" and I realize I’m in a 1970 flashback.
Finally, EC eases up on us and sits down for a delightful acoustic set kicking off with "Driftin" and then "Outside Woman Blues" followed by a spine tickling "Nobody Knows You When Your Down And Out". The sit down set concludes with in my opinion a stunning vocal performance on "Running On Faith". While great all evening, the vocal performance of both Michelle John and Sharon White is nicely presented during this portion of the show.
Time to get back up and kick it a little with "Motherless Children" which provides a nice showcase for second guitarist Doyle Bramhall. Doyle is playing left handed Strats (strung right) and sometimes a Les Paul through a pair of Marshall half stacks. Now here comes Robert Johnson’s "Little Queen of Spades". This tune goes down in my opinion with the best EC licks of the night. Plus Chris Stainton is way over the top on this one with a near hypnotic piano solo that captivated the entire building…audience, band, vendors, ushers….just fantastic playing. "Further On Up The Road" allowed everyone on stage plenty of space to solo and fill. Even the obligatory crowd pleasing "Wonderful Tonight" had an unusual smokey blues vibe tonight. "Layla" at full tilt brought thousands of us to our feet for a warm-up before the expected encore.
And….here it comes. "Cocaine" gets everyone up again as EC and Doyle snort through the tune like a sinus infection gone wild. Speaking of wild, Tim Carmon performed an interesting sort of Organ and then Synth solo that was almost a little psychedelic. Finally they put the gravy on the grits with a monster version of "Crossroads" with Robert Cray returning to sing and play along with Doyle and Eric, each taking their turn at ripping apart what is left of Key Arena.
As crowds rush for the exits and the smoldering rubble settles around us, we know it’s great to be alive.
Review by beebs
Just got back from the show and what a show it was. It has taken me just over 23 years to finally see Eric Clapton again and he is still the best. Great show from everyone. My only disappointments were that Robert Cray only played a half hour or so but he belted out some great tunes. I’ve been following Eric’s tour through this site and was looking forward to see Derek Trucks perform with Eric but I missed him by a few days. Maybe another time. None the less though the slack was picked up quite well by Doyle Bramhall. No change to the set list. My personal performances were "got to get better in a little while" and "Little queen of spades". Just a kick ass blues tune with some really outstanding jams by keyboardist Chris Stainton and Tim Carmon. But the evening belonged to Eric Clapton. To those people with tickets for upcoming shows- a great show awaits you. WOW!!
Review by David Dartnall
The Seattle Concert: One of the best concerts I have ever attended. We paid a hefty price for our tickets and were wondering if the show was really going to be worth the price. We had no doubt it would be good, but didn’t want to feel like it wasn’t worth our investment. Let me say, Eric Clapton did not disappoint us in any stretch of the imagination. When Eric got up to play I was personally hoping for at least a solid hour of music. I was more than impressed when I looked at my watch on the way out and discovered it had been almost two, I repeat two hours of high-energy, creatively sculpted, hand-clapping, voice-straining, string-bending, finger-flowing music literally pouring out of the man front & center. Of course, everyone on stage delivered stunningly skillful work. And the combination of Eric Clapton and Robert Cray is ingenious for a crowd who is in love with the blues.
There were a couple of technical audio abnormalities in the room. The front of house mixing man never did figure out how to clear up Eric’s microphone by adjusting the 350Hz zone down by 5dB or so. Every time his vocal caressed across that range it destroyed his tone and left me thinking a personnel replacement was in order. I was sitting just behind the console area and could see the mix man trying to figure it out. It was so distracting I thought about passing a note to him so we could remedy the situation and hear a more clear Eric Clapton voice. Perhaps he was just filling in for the night. The light show was great, without being overdone. Come back soon, Eric!!!
Review by Phil Cordner
What a Show! I am really at a loss for words after just having witnessed Eric Clapton live. This was a show I had been looking forward for sometime and was not disappointed in any way. Everything from start to finish was absolutely phenomenal. Robert Cray opened and played a nice opening set, that in my opinion was too short, however it definitely fit well with what Clapton would bring on later. I haven’t listened to much blues prior to this concert, but I can say now that I am hooked. The solos were outstanding both in hearing the music and watching the different band members on the screens that were hanging over the stage. I still cannot get over watching Clapton play the guitar the way he does. Outstandingâ€¦simply outstanding! I thoroughly enjoyed his sit down set, where it was him and a string guitar. That, and his renditions of "Wonderful Tonight," "Layla" and "Cocaine" will remain with me for a long time to come. You are in for a treat whether you have seen him before or not.
Review by Dean Owen
Eric Clapton and his music have inspired and empowered me since I was 11-years-old. Forty years later, I was reminded why. I saw him perform last evening in Seattle.
Mr. Clapton’s soaring solos demonstrated that his age (62 next month) has not affected his mastery of the guitar. From the opening number of the two-hour set, "Tell the Truth," to the second of the two-song encore, "Crossroads," his virtuosity was extraordinary. Sitting in the 16th row and utilizing high-power binoculars, my eyes frequently were riveted on his fingers – stretching and bending the strings of the Fender Stratocaster and Martin guitars. With the former, Mr. Clapton delivered searing, roaring solos; with the latter, he was transformed into an emotion-laden Delta blues singer in smoky bar in northern Mississippi.
This was the seventh time I have seen such mastery. In 1969, my brother and I eluded security guards to roam the stage at the Oakland Coliseum where Blind Faith would be performing three hours later. The following year, I chatted Mr. Clapton at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, both of us watching the opening act prior to his second set as a sideman with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. I have witnessed his man’s winding – sometime turbulent – journey as a musician, a husband and a father who has experienced great professional triumphs and devastating personal tragedies.
Last night, after more than 29 years, I again observed his uncompromising commitment as a blues and rock virtuoso. Mr. Clapton is, quite simply, the best in the world at what he does for a living.
There is one image I will hold forever. Sharing the microphone with Robert Cray on "Crossroads" Mr. Clapton pleading, as Robert Johnson might have on a desolate country highway intersection in the mid-1930’s:
"You can run, you can run,
Tell my friend, boy, Willie Brown.
You can run, you can run,
Tell my friend, boy, Willie Brown.
That I’m standing at the crossroads,
Believe I’m sinkin’ down."
With reports of arthritis and the demands of fathering three young girls, it would be disappointing, though not surprising, if Mr. Clapton soon forgoes the rigorous demands of touring. Thanks to last evening’s performance, I am fulfilled. I can only pray he was as well.
Review by Jon Engman, Newcastle WA
This 43 year-old avid concert goer had thought he had just about seen it all in live music. Yet, there was one major "notch on the belt" that had to be carved — seeing Clapton. I’ve wanted to several times over the years, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work out until last night. I’m glad I waited. Last night’s set was perfect for my tastes.
Growing up as a huge Allman Bros. fan, and having witnessed numerous of their blistering shows, I’ve always been partial to "the jam." Well, last night the jam was taken to a new level for me. I’ve never witnessed nor even considered the type of musicianship that was on display at Key Arena. It was unbelievable. I don’t think there was a missed note by EC all night. Everything was pure precision.
I’ve seen some complaints that Clapton doesn’t interact with the crowd much, and that was true again last night, but frankly it doesn’t matter. He’s not there to make friends. He’s there to blow our minds away with some of the greatest guitar mastery this generation (or generations) has seen since a Seattle kid left our graces in the early seventies. I’m blown away…