Venue: Rod Laver Arena
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
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 Shane
How did my favorite guitarist of all time and my main inspiration for playing blues live up to my expectations in a live show? That can be answered in a few ways. I always wanted to see EC live, I have most of CDs (at least 20) plus all of his DVD releases and material I can get my hands on. I wanted to play blues as soon as I heard "From the Cradle" when I was living in Michigan and wanted and prayed for EC to come down to Australia so I could see him live. His new band consisted of some good additions including Steve Jordan (my favorite drummer) Derek Trucks (phenomenal guitarist), Willie Weeks (exceptional bassist), some quality backing vocalists and 2 piano players.
Since Derek Trucks has joined the band, he basically does the majority of the lead guitar work which is very good, the guy can play like you couldn’t believe! He can seriously play slide better than I’ve ever heard and he has the right amount of technical chops mixed with soulful playing.
That also said, EC needed to do more lead guitar work because that’s why we were all there. I felt very let down he was only doing very little guitar solos in his songs if any at all. With the exception of the blues material and one rotation on Little Wing (which was the highlight) there was very little honest guitar solos from him tonight it just felt lazy and like it was just another show. Eric can seriously sing well now, he’s got better with age and his guitar playing is as good as it ever has been but he needed to be the focus of the night, there was way too much Derek Trucks, who as I said is a master of the guitar and a pleasure to watch, but we were ALL there for ERIC!
They don’t need Doyle on stage as his playing was sloppy, lacked creativity as well as feel. His attitude was also annoying; how can he be yawning over and over in front of a crowd during songs? They seriously don’t need him.
On a positive note – The song choice was "okay" but not great. There were lots of great songs left out. I’m not one for his mainstream songs, but the set didn’t include "Have you ever loved a woman?" – "White Room" – "Sunshine of your love" – "Old Love" one I was hoping to hear". I guess it’s hard to cram it all in the 2 hours the show went for, but if there were less excessive solos from everyone except EC, they could have done more material. This was a concern shared from everyone who was talking on the way out.
Eric was playing through Fender amps tonight as was the entire guitar line up rather than the hot Cornell amplifiers I’ve seen him use for quite sometime. He had no pedals, just straight into the amp and he maybe swapped electric guitars once or twice and did some exceptional acoustic stuff on his own which included "Driftin’ Blues".
I don’t want to sound ungrateful for sharing the same space and time with Eric and being about 15 feet from him all night but the show lacked class. I exclude the always amazing Steve Jordan and Willie Weeks who to me, felt like they were in their own league. Derek Trucks can seriously play too, but it was a little overdone, either Clapton is losing his chops or he’s just lazy or bored with the material. There just wasn’t enough Clapton tonight to keep me satisfied and that was disappointing to all of us who actually play music and those who are just dedicated Clapton Fans.
I am glad I’ve seen him live at least once even if all of the above reads in a negative light. I am greatly appreciated that we had awesome seats right up the front and that I was in the same room as EC and Steve Jordan at least once, as for the show: It felt lazy, uninspiring, messy with WAY too many guitar solos from everyone except EC.
It’s hard to believe I’ve said this about an EC show, I was hoping I’d leave overjoyed that I heard the main man play live and it would keep me both interested in Clapton from a HUGE fan point as well as keep the guitar player in me satisfied, motivated and frustrated (hehe) for years to come. I need more of EC tonight and I didn’t get it.
Review by Wayne Powell
Now that I’ve seen EC two nights in a row, and both being the same set list it, left me a little disappointed, but I knew that the set set would probably not change. All of the most recent concerts that EC has done the set list remained essentially the same. But, hey I just love EC and his lead work, he is the main influence in my playing. Would have been nice if he had of acknowledged the audience a little more. EC if you read this then just remember, we in OZ don’t get to see you that often as the yanks and the poms do, so when you come out here we think it is something very special. The band was great but Doyle never lived up to his name, every lead break he did was boring unimaginative and lack lustre. With the killer tone he was getting, he would start a lead break with the promise of maybe he would deliver but, alas, he never did. I was left wanting more when his lead break finished. Derek was fantastic again, but having said that I went to see and hear him, but his solos were too far apart. I appreciate he is getting older but I’m only six years younger and was disappointed that he didn’t do more solo’s. Steve and Willie as a rhythm section what can I say " BLOODY UNBELIEVABLE ". Sharon & Michelle voices of angels. I enjoyed the concert but reckon the best concert I have seen EC perform was in "90, his "Journeyman" era.
Review by John Haig, Melbourne
I wasn’t going to submit a review but after reading Shane’s review I decided to do one too. While I disagree with his merciless bagging of one of Eric’s players, I do believe the non-Eric solos went on far too long and often. Cutting back on the number of play-throughs allocated to each soloist would have allowed for at least three, maybe four extra songs to be played. I also think that there were too many blues songs played and, whilst I loved them all and would have happily listened to more, the audience didn’t seem to get into it at any stage. It was an older crowd of managing directors and superannuants and, while they might not be up to dancing in the aisles, they could surely have clapped their hands and tapped their feet a lot more.
If the concert had been promoted as a blues concert I’m guessing that the "theatre goers", who I suspect went along in their thousands wanting to hear the hits and only the hits, wouldn’t have been there at all. I went both nights and on each night the audience just was not into the music. They even missed their cue at the end of "Cocaine". Not everyone reads Where’s Eric, so not everyone knew the set list and a lot of people were possibly a bit disappointed.
I don’t expect Eric to engage with the audience. He never has and that’s fine with me. The only way he would have won over his Melbourne audiences would have been to play Sheriff, Tears, Sunshine and Father’s Eyes and songs of that ilk, which he was never going to do with that band.
I went both nights and sat in different areas (near the mixer console on Saturday and in platinum close to stage right on Sunday) and on both nights I could not hear the organ or the piano except when Tim and Chris (the "old guy" as one unkind reviewer had called him!) soloed. Apart from their solos, I could not hear a single note they played. On the subject of solos why does Tim persist with that screeching synthesiser, or whatever it is, when his organ has such a beautiful rich tone?
Having been giving the dvd of Cream’s reunion concert at the Royal Albert a hammering of late I was a bit bored by the unplugged version of "Outside Woman Blues" on both nights. To me the song is best played with the electric guitar. If you want to see Eric at his flawless best (vocally and instrumentally), without being drowned out by a wall of sound, you might want to check that dvd out.
Now for the positives. For me the highlights were Tell the Truth (great opener), Got to Get Better, Little Wing (fitting tribute to Jimi and Eric always rises to the occasion for this song)), Why Does Love, Drifting Blues (Eric the guitar virtuoso), Motherless Children (three slides and amazing drumming from Steve Jordan), Further On and an absolutely killer version of Cocaine. Throughout both nights Chris played several fantastic solos.
I have always struggled to find a version of Crossroads that even gets close to Cream’s version from Wheels of Fire where Eric’s playing is from another world. However, the version played by this band is better than most that I’ve heard over the years.
Overall, the players are individually brilliant (including Doyle in my view) and gel together brilliantly as well. Surrounded by such talent, Eric is still the absolute master. Even his little fills and rhythm playing under a keyboard solo are a joy to behold. The backing singers don’t get acknowledged on the night but they were great too.
I was thrilled to be there on both nights. I would not have wanted to miss one minute of either night and I didn’t. Now I will happily return to my sizable collection of Eric cd’s and dvd’s. When I’m listening to the cd’s by myself in the car or watching the dvds at home when the family’s gone out, Eric’s got the best audience in the world.
Review by Ron Ventura
Wow. Shane must have been at a different concert to the one I saw last night! While I also would have liked to heard more solos from Eric, who could be disappointed with the brilliance of Derek trucks. Undoubtedly the best slide guitar I’ve ever heard. And from such a young guy too! Probably my least favourite was Doyle Bramhall II, but to pay out on him as Shane did is just unfair. I wish I could play guitar as "badly" as that.
The set was great. Sure there were a few numbers I would have liked to hear (Have you ever loved a Woman comes to mind), but If Eric played everything we all wanted to hear, we’d be there for a week. (Hey that sounds like an idea). The highlight for me was the screaming guitars in Motherless Children – absolutely awe inspiring. And Layla (which I have had as a ringtone for some time now) and Cocaine of course. I was wondering whether he’d do the original or "unplugged" version of Layla. I love them both but was really pleased to hear the original.
Shane complained Eric didn’t talk to the audience enough – fine by me, I went to hear him play (and sing). Eric’s obviously a man comfortable in his skin. He was so generous to the other members in the band, who were given space to show us what they can do (and that’s plenty). He was content to just sit back and play rhythm while they took the limelight, even to the extent of taking the lead playing some of Eric’s trademark licks.
I disagree that the crowd didn’t really get into it. The clamour after the regular set, until the band came out for the encore was as loud as I’ve heard. I think they were well and truly into it. Thanks Eric. Please come back soon. (Oh by the way, we ended up winning the cricket – you brought it up first.) Who will play your magic music when you decide to hang up your guitars? Derek Trucks perhaps?
PS: It seems only fair to mention Mia Dyson, the local girl who was the support act. She played a pretty good set, with good guitar and vocals which on occasion were a little reminiscent of Janis Joplin.
Review by Mark Hulls
I must say that I find it rather surprising that some folk didn’t seem to experience the same concert that I did. I thought the musicianship was exceptional and that the diverse choice of songs gave the show depth and resonance. I thought Clapton’s vocals were brilliant and the absolute highlight for me was Motherless Children.
Review by Sue Robinson
Our second night with EC in Melbourne and this time with Lower Level seats near the back. Surprisingly the sound was better balanced than last night at the front, and another plus was the screens giving up-close views of keyboards etc. It was a treat to see the flying fingers of the great Chris Stainton, couldn’t help smiling to see his hair out of the ponytail – could it have been in response to that ‘old man’ comment on these pages?
Once again we were blown away by the amazing playing, what a talented and tight band. We were expecting the same setlist as last night and had no problem with that as each track is new to us in this incarnation. Standout was another blistering Motherless Children, better than any recorded version we have. Wonderful Tonight (girls’ favourite!) was just that, what exquisitely delicate playing by Eric.
Thought the acoustic part of the sit-down set less enthralling than the rest of the show (both nights). It’s nice to see EC solo but acoustic is not really his forte and you don’t need to play acoustic to get that laid-back bluesy feel.
Surprised no-one has commented on the way the show ended, with all performers rapidly exiting the stage without acknowledging the applause, the last notes of Crossroads still ringing in the air. Made for a disappointing finish to two wonderful nights of music.
Perhaps the heat overcame them? Eric seemed to be struggling a bit on the last three numbers. Or was it the unresponsiveness of those seated on the floor? Melbourne audiences are unfortunately notorious for this, but at least Saturday night there was a rush to the rail for Layla and people were on their feet from then. Tonight’s audience didn’t even liven up for Layla, just continued to sit like logs. Makes you wonder why they bothered to turn up, the best live music is about interaction between audience and performer after all.
Review by Stephen Cattenazzi, Melbourne
Sunday’s show was just as good as Saturday’s. The whole band were in fine form. Don’t know how many people picked up the stray note from EC at the start of Layla, but that’s what I love about live music. It shows these people are human. EC doesn’t hide from it. I’ve seen many of his old shows where he’s left in mistakes and not done overdubs in post production. It shows him being real, mistakes and all.
Personally I thought EC played better on Saturday. But that’s the beauty of playing live. When you play from the heart, you don’t know what’s gonna come out. I see EC going through a lot of stages in the last few years. And this tour is the Derek & The Dominos stage. He’s done the Cream thing, and also hooked back up with the Bluesbreaksers. I think he’s saying thank you to all his fans that have been with him from day one, and also bringing attention to those that helped him along in the early days.
Derek caught everyone’s attention once again, and the crowd were really impressed by his technique. I thought Doyle II played much better than Saturday’s show. He seemed a bit reserved on Saturday, which is why I think he doesn’t get as much recognition as he should.
It’s impossible to compare two guitarists with such different styles in playing. Both were spectacular to boot. Derek is a bit more flash without all the hype of being animated and expressive on stage. This goes to show they both have a deep understanding of where the music is coming from. And I’m sure this is why Eric chose them for his band. He wouldn’t pick charity cases because of who they are. They were picked on their own ability as musicians.
All in all, another fine show. Only thing i found disappointing was the crowd not seeming to get into it. On Saturday once Layla started, the whole crowd were on their feet. But Sunday’s audience just sat there. Melbourne crowds have always acted like this at concerts for as long as I can remember. Doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the show. I think this reflected onto EC. After they finished Crossroads, he ordered everyone off stage immediately, as opposed to the whole band taking a bow at the front of the stage like they did Saturday.
So thank you again Eric. It was an enjoyable experience seeing you again. One of the best shows I’ve seen to date.