Venue: Malahide Castle
Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Doyle Bramhall II – guitar, backing vocals
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Abe Laboriel Jr – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
Robert Randolph & The Family Band
Review by Les Walker
I have just returned from a great blues gig. Eric played a powerful 2 hour blues set,staying with the same playlist as the North American shows. However he decided to drop "Little Wing" for George Harrison’s "Isn’t it a Pity". A power failure during the closing of "Layla" still could not dampen a memorable night of fantastic blues rock.The song of the night for me had to be "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad" and his encore with Robert Randolph of "I’ve Got My MoJo Working". Looking forward to EC coming back to our shores soon!
Review by Gert-Jan Hengeveld – Dublin
CLAPTON VS. THE ELEMENTS
June 21st: It was an ordinary day at Malahide Castle. As always the weather gods kept all commoners on their toes by adjusting the weather to their bad-spirited will (some say it was typical Irish weather, others are convinced the weather gods are a bunch of schizo’s all together). As the gods looked down upon Malahide castle they noticed what appeared to be some kind of gathering and decided for this crowd to let them have it. Allthough the crowd’s spirit was dampened, they did not scatter as the gods had hoped. In fact it looked like they were waiting for something and the rain only seemed to make them more determined to stick around.
Then thunder struck both crowd and gods in the form of Robert Randolph & the family band. Their energetic and inspired performance revitalized the crowd’s spirit and the weather gods shook their heads at the clapping hands, stamping feet and bobbing heads. And if that wasn’t enough Robert Randolph summoned the spirits of both Jimi Hendrix and the late Bo Diddley in order to stop the rain and make the clouds go drifting by. In fact Robert Randolph and his band literally laughed in the face of the gods and with them hundreds of re-inspired people did too.
However a small intermission caused the weather gods to come out of their hiding place in order to show everyone for once and all who’s boss. Vengeful as they are the gods threw everything they got at the crowd: wind, rain, crew that made you give up your umbrella, you name it. THAT was a mistake!
Without the gods knowing what was hanging over their heads, Eric Clapton came onto the stage. At first the crowd seemed somewhat uneasy because Eric appeared in a thick coat (better a bit overdressed then risking a cold during a European tour, right?) as if he’d cut a deal with the weather gods. Nothing could have been further from the truth when Eric kicked off with Tell The Truth and send the weather gods a very clear message: that his audience would not be messed with! Accompanied by his more than brilliant band, Clapton was able to out-bluese the gods by far. Sending up riffs that made the clouds shatter instantly and turn the raindrops into rays of sunshine (Good old blackie made the weather gods pale in the face). Doyle Bramhall II (guitars / backing vocals) showed that the blues is unmistakenly his second nature. As for Abe Laboriel Jr (drums): there were moments that yours truly felt sorry for his drums, because they took a serious! beating. Chris Stainton (keyboards) hit his keys as if he tried to answer each and every falling raindrop with a note. Almost invisible but nonetheless rocksteady, Willie Weeks (bass) provided a solid base for the band to fall back on. Sharon White and Michelle John (backing vocals) proved that looks can be deceiving as their vocal work came close to nothing less than a thunderstorm.
In a final attempt to regain control of the sky the weather gods tried to retaliate by cutting down the power for a few moments, but as you might have guessed, that didn’t stop the forces of Clapton. In fact Robert Randolph & the family band were brought back out again and together they showed that their mojo is still up and running whereas the weather gods’ mojo has completely vanished.
In conclusion I want to get back to an ancient question: Is Eric Clapton God? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that it takes a god to battle other gods. And some weather gods got their asses kicked big time last night…
Review by Fiona Clarke – Dublin
Great concert except that there were two power failures – one during Layla, the other in the one encore song – that lest more than half the audience trying to see the stage – no big screens – and not able to hear anything. I don’t know if the Band were aware of the second- they played on- but as it was just at the final encore- we were left feeling cheated of the grand exit.
Review by Chris O’Connor
I have just returned home from tonight’s concert in Malahide Castle. This has been one of the most disapointing concerts I have ever attended. I have never seen a band so lacking in enthusiasm, or such a lack of interaction with their audience. Apart from a great piano part on "Little Queen of Spades", this was a most forgetable performance. Very, very disapointing.
Review by Fred Frome
In a well organized site at Malahide Castle park north of Dublin the second European concert took place. The weather was quite bad, cold and windy with partly heavy rain. After a short opener by Robert Randolph 7 to 7:30 pm, Eric got his guitar at 8pm and opened with a speech: "Thank you for staying, you have my total respect!"
Later on in the concert (just before Running on Faith!) while the rain had stopped and the sun tried to appear at times he continued with "finally the weather is changing, Thanks God!"
The musicians were the same as in Cork, the playing was tremendous, each song with great EC solos, good and matching solos by Doyle Bramhall, extremely good interplay at RJ songs as well as even Wonderful Tonight.
The disaster appeared just before the Layla coda – power break on main amps and screens, only the front room people barely could listen to the personal amps as the crowd was screaming and the musicians seemed not to realize! At 9:42 main amps reappeared with distortions, screens followed after some minutes. Nevertheless the encore with Robert Randolph at 9:50 was excellent though with another power break. No excuses whatsoever, three deep bows and off.
Review by Steve Grice – West Bromwich
Well what can I say, an amazing concert in beautiful surroundings! We headed over to Malahide on Friday and were lucky enough to get a room at the Grand Hotel, which was only about a 15-minute walk to the castle grounds. Even as we were stood in the pouring rain, the atmosphere was fantastic as the venue filled up. I stood about 4 rows in and central to the stage, and had a great view.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band came on around 1900 and gave a blistering 30-minute set, closing with a rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s "Voodoo Child Slight Return", which got the crowd really cooking ready for Eric.
EC and his colossal band appeared around 2000, and before kicking off thanked the crowd for staying throughout the torrid weather, adding, "you all have my total respect". The band line up was the same as the Cork show, and I was blown away by Abe on drums – he has a Steve Jordan quality about him, which is to say the least, intense!
The show kicked off with "Tell The Truth" and went from strength to strength. Highlights included "Double Trouble", "Little Queen of Spades", a great rendition of "Layla", and the encore of "Got My Mojo Working" with Robert Randolph. Doyle and Chris shone throughout but their moments of glory came in "Little Queen of Spades". As for Willie Weeks and the girls, solid as ever.
Around half way through the gig the clouds broke, and Eric came out from under the stage cover to point at the blue sky….as if we, the audience, stood in the field hadn’t noticed it already. But we cheered anyway. The sound system failed during Layla and the encore, but the crowd took it all in their stride. The concert finished around 2200 and everyone dispersed brimming with excitement, regaling in what they had just witnessed (including me!). The night was topped off by an unhealthy amount of Guinness consumption in Gibney’s pub!
I’ve seen Eric 15 times now, including twice with Cream back in 2005, and this was one of the best shows I’ve had the privilege of attending. If you’ve already got tickets to see Eric on this tour, you’re all in for a real treat.
Review by Keith Geraghty
I left Malahide Castle with mixed feelings on Saturday night. I enjoyed the show but I sort of agree with Chris O’Connor’s review i.e. very little interaction with the audience and the band seemed a tad lacklustre at times.
Doyle was good at times as was Eric but they both lacked a bit of oomph. The P.A problems during Layla didn’t help matters. The stage monitors were obviously working as the band just kept on playing. I think people felt a bit disappointed that the show ended on the 2 hour mark with no effort to make up for the P.A failure. This may have been down to curfew restrictions but having never attended a gig in Malahide Castle I can’t be sure.
The encore with Robert Randolph of "Got my mojo working" was amazing and like Les Walker I thought "Why does love got to be so sad?" was brilliant.
Review by Joe Toomey
I have to disagree wholeheartedly with Chris O’Connor about Saturday night’s gig at Malahide. I thought Eric was on fire on some tracks, the standout being Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad. Tell the truth was also memorable as were Outside Women Blues & Double Trouble. I thought Wonderful Tonight, Cocaine and Layla all sounded tired and with the exception of Layla I wouldn’t have a problem if he had omitted them. Having said that some of the people I was with were disappointed he didn’t do more of his well known songs!! (I’m assuming Tears in Heaven, Lay down Sally etc)
I thought the band worked well together and put on a great show despite the soaking endured by many prior to Eric’s appearance. The drumming from Abe Laboriel was powerful and precise complementing Willie Weeks nicely. Speaking of whom I thought he was a bit hidden in the mix and he might have been any old bass player! Overall a very good show, maybe not a vintage one from Eric but well worth the price of admission.
Review by Jon O’Rourke, Belfast
The weather forecast wasn’t good. Rain all over Ireland. I feared the worst. A last minute cancellation. Especially as the trip from Belfast to Dublin would have been better in a boat rather than a car, the rain was so heavy.
I made it in and stood ten rows from the stage just before Robert Randolph began. Robert’s set is always good and full of energy, and that was still there in spades, but the over-long intro made me suspect sound gremlins. Opening up a an outside gig is never easy, but with the torrential downpours in the mix, this was going to be a big test. But lo and behold, Robert and his Family Band still cooked, even as roadies and engineers ran around tweaking this and that and shouting over the din of Robert’s fabulous lap steel guitar. Then the sound kicked in, all instruments where at the right level, and Robert played the first bars of Voodoo Chile by Hendrix. The sound of that lap steel was like a tortured dragon, it wailed and yelled and screamed out one of Jimi’s most ferocious and aurally inspirational numbers as if a hundred foot tall sheet of flame was going to spew from its innards.
Robert also took a break from the lap steel, and strapped on a gorgeous burgundy coloured replica of Bo Diddley’s box guitar, chugging out damped major chords Diddly style, as he played a tribute to Bo, who died only weeks ago. But high above, as Robert’s set finished, the sky was charcoal grey and spots of rain still fell. But we didn’t have to wait long for God to speak.
When EC strolled on, Strat dangling from him like a third arm, he could have been mistaken for a roadie. Faded jeans underneath a huge padded winter coat. Gone are the days of the pink suits and bleached hair. This was serious. He was here to play the guitar. His salt and pepper hair longer than usual, he strode out to his mic, and adressed the crowd:
"Thank you so much for sticking around. You have my total and utter respect" said EC, and the crowd, literally, went nuts. And as if to stick two fingers up at the weather, the band opened the show with a rousing, fabulously tight "Tell The Truth", and of course, Mr Clapton obliged us with a rather lovely solo, just before the heavens opened and the biggest, thickest lumps of rain hit our heads with a vengeance. But later, when Eric played George Harrison’s Isn’t It A Pity, the rain just stopped.
Every song was played with the same energy. Double Trouble was just great, and then a little surprise for all The Derek and The Dominos fans, Why does Love Got To Be So Sad, which I had never seen played live before, and I was absolutely delighted. Just before a lovely solo accoustic version of Driftin, which was just a pared down twelve bar shimmering delight, Eric strode out from his spot, and pointed at the one patch of blue in an altogether thunderous sky as if to say "That’s better". He then looked up after Driftin and said "There, the weather’s changing, thank God, " which I though was funny coming from him.
Rocking Chair was another accoustic but with the rest of the band. It’s a nice song, but, I just thought it felt like it brought proceedings to a bit of a halt…but that was to come later.
Motherless Child from From The Cradle was a nice touch, though Eric’s 12 string guitar didn’t seem to be at the right volume at the beginning. Little Queen of Spades was certainly a highlight, all musicians (especially Chris Stainton) getting a good spot in the limelight and Eric just throttled the neck of his strat. Motherless Child was sensational, Eric playing very nice slide licks on another of his Strats (of which he used at least three, including a new Ferrari colour, Grigio Silverstone, a kind of dark mettalic grey).
Another highlight was Before You Accuse me from the Journeyman album, a little quicker than the original, with Doyle and Eric trading licks and having a good time. By this stage, the rain had stopped, but the tears began. Eric was now playing a really lovely Wonderful Tonight, and I saw at least three women weep.
When Eric played the first few bars of Layla, EVERYONE moved forward about two feet and just yelled. It was played at such a lovely pace, but still gritty. Eric went for the solo, fingers taking it easy at first then a rapid rush of notes building to a crescendo and then the whole PA, including screens, just shut down. Everything except the musician’s stage gear died. The band didn’t know immediately. Eric was still standing, eyes closed, soloing. It wasn’t until they got to part two of the song that a roadie came to the side of the stage, as if to say something was up. But the just kept playing, and Sharon White and Michelle John threw their hands in the air and clapped to warm up the crowd. The PA kicked in again. There was a feeling of unease like someone was going to say, "Sorry folks that’s yer lot" but then Robert Randolph came on and Got My Mojo Working just rocked!" Until the PA died again and then came on again.
Randolph stood on his chair, bent over and played some Hendrix style riffs on the lap steel to end the show, and the band together stood for their "Hug and Bow" to the crowd. We were all soaking wet, and yes the PA, which I doubt was Eric’s and just rented from the promoter perhaps, died twice, but Eric Clapton is 64 years old and he had us all run through a gauntlet of happy (Before You Accuse me) to sad (Wonderful Tonight) emotions, in a gig which is worth remembering more for the musicianship than the technical difficulties.
Review by Margaret Oriordan
I’m a fan, that’s for sure and having seen Eric play in the Point Theatre Dublin in the early 90s with Phil Collins on drums I was soooooo looking forward to this gig. To say I am dissappointed is an understatement. Ticketmaster told us he would be on at 8.30, but he came on at 8.00 – not his fault I’m sure, but there were huge numbers of people still making their way in. The sound was absolutely lousy, and in fact we had two power cuts which knocked out the sound and monitors completely. One of them was at the climax of Layla. Eric himself did not engage at all with the audience. He seemed to be just going through the motions, no atmosphere. He played one song in the encore and left the stage at 9.50 – Radiohead played this venue two weeks previously and stayed on until 10.45. I feel let down, ripped off and really frustrated.
Would love to know what Eric himself thought. A memorable night for the wrong reasons!
Review by Martin McGuinness
I have been a Clapton fan for 43 years. I have followed his ups and downs most of my life. Malahide Castle was the 3rd time I have been able to see him live and I was delighted with a marvellous performance.
For people who do not know, EC does not do "interaction with the crowd". He is one of the greatest exponents of rock guitar the world has ever seen.
I have read some of the negative comments about this concert. I think some people just like to complain: 4 world class musicians, 2 world class backing singers and 1 genius all add up to an exceptional musical experience. Thanks "God".
Review by Tony Briffa / Malta
I just arrived home in Malta after travelling thousands of miles to go to Dublin just to see Eric. Reading all these reviews, there were lots of mixed feelings about this particular concert. I’m 58 and Eric was my hero since I was 16 and I always dreamed of seeing Eric live in concert. So I happened to pick this particular concert to fullfill my dream.
Arriving about one hour before the gates opened was rewarding because we got a very good place in front of the stage. Eric opened with a bang "Tell the Truth" and the playlist was as expected like his north american tour but with a couple of changes playing an excellent "Isn’t it a pity" and "Why does love had to be so Sad". He played quite a few from the Dominoes which were very welcomed. I think the concert was great.
My disapointment was he played a very short version of "Wonderful Tonight" without his long guitar solo and the power failure during the best song in the world "Layla". No apology was made so at least after battling the rain we could have been awarded with another version in the encore after "Mojo" and everybody would have left the concert very happy!
Well Eric is still my hero and still "God". Just a last note. My son is Eric and my granddaughter is Layla.
Review by David Weldon / Meath
The person who said the sound was awful needs to get their ears syringed! Fair enough the p.a went down twice (promoters fault) but I was about 50 metres from the stage and I had no problems hearing all of this great gig.
A number of people were moaning that they only recognised a few songs from the set (unbelievable!!). This is a more blues orientated set and all the better for it.
Eric’s playing was sublime ably assisted by a very tight band and backing singers. Hopefully we will see EC back in Ireland soon, maybe indoors as the Irish weather cannot be relied on!
Review by Robert Scully / Cork
I’m after reading many reviews of this concert and I’m convinced that those who wrote these reviews were fairweather fans. I’ve been to quite a few Clapton concerts and this was by far the worst. Doyle’s guitar was too loud and I could barely hear Erics the whole night.
When Little Wing was played, my friend and I looked at each other and said "Finally, God has landed" even though his guitar was still a little low volume. Unfortunately, this was not the case. We had to endure another hour and a half of broken solos from Doyle and sometimes very patchy and awful blues. I did not pay 82 euros to go and see Doyle play less than mediocre solos for the entire concert. I payed 82 euros to see Eric Clapton burn the fret board on that guitar.
I payed it to see Clapton show me once again that he deserves his reputation for being one of the best guitarists of all time. My friend shouted "Turn up your guitar, Eric" at him at one stage. He was stern faced after it. At that point, he knew there were people in the crowd that were completely aware that this concert was rubbish and that he was only arsing around.
Then, to put the icing on the cake, he left Doyle off on a four or five minute solo for Queen of Spades (I think, I was so asleep at this stage that I can’t remember exactly which song it was). During this time, Clapton sat down on stage and just watched. Isn’t it Eric that should be playing these solos? Why doesn’t he do four or 5 minute long quality solos anymore? I’ve read interviews with him where he says he has arthritis in his fingers and maybe he has, but I can tell you that watching him on Friday night he’s still well capable of playing with those flying fingers. He’s well capable of breaking sweat and doing amazing solos, like the ones I heard in Bercy 2004 for I shot the Sherriff. In fact, anyone who believes for a second that Cork was a good Clapton concert, please go and get the bootleg of Clapton in Bercy 2004. The majority of music in that concert is his guitar. You’ll be able to tell by the difference in quality whether it’s him or Doyle anyway. That is Clapton at near his best. That is Clapton and what he can do, not that rubbish we were subjected to in Cork last Friday.
Review by Brian Coote
As a fan of Eric Clapton I was looking forward to the night. However, weather aside, albeit that it was actually dry for most of the concert, I was dissapointed with the level of interaction from Eric (he said one sentence to the crowd), the fact that the sound and screens went twice and the sudden abrupt end. Maybe the fact that the sound went at just the wrong moment when the atmosphere was starting to build didn’t help. Then the band just kept playing, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the crowd were getting frustrated. From where I was, there was a lot of frustration as people were trying their hardest to ‘get into it’. The old reliables like "Layla" were great, as were some of the others, but over all I felt cheated. I definitely got the impression that he didn’t want to be there and was just getting through it all as quickly as possible in order to get finished. When the sound went the second time (again when the atmosphere was good) during "Got my mojo working" the crowd were shouting back "Eric – your mojo’s not working" ! That was also the mood of most people as they left the gounds – still in daylight! Pity.
Robert Randolph – pedal steel *
01. Tell The Truth
02. Key To The Highway
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Isn’t It A Pity
05. Outside Woman Blues
06. Double Trouble
07. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad
09. Rockin’ Chair
10. Motherless Child
11. Travellin’ Riverside Blues
12. Running On Faith
13. Motherless Children
14. Little Queen of Spades
15. Before You Accuse Me
16. Wonderful Tonight
19. Got My Mojo Working (encore) *