Venue: PNC Bank Arts Center
Country: United States
Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Doyle Bramhall II – guitar, backing vocals
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Pino Palladino – bass
Ian Thomas – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
Robert Randolph & The Family Band
After a 17 day break, the summer tour picked up again in Holmdel, New Jersey at the PNC Bank Arts Center. It was EC’s first concert at this venue since 28 June 1985 when was it called the Garden State Arts Center. His last concert appearance in New Jersey was in 1992.
For the gearheads: For Motherless Child, EC used a 12 string Martin acousitic in an open tuning with a capo at the 4th fret. For Travelling Riverside Blues, EC played a black signature strat in an open tuning, set up for slide. For much of the night, EC relied on his signature stratocasters. They were painted Ferrari Grigio Silverstone.
Robert Randolph – pedal steel *
01. Tell The Truth
02. Key To The Highway
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Little Wing
05. Outside Woman Blues
06. Double Trouble
07. Don’t Knock My Love
09. Rockin’ Chair
10. Motherless Child
11. Travelling Riverside Blues
12. Running On Faith
13. Motherless Children
14. Little Queen of Spades
15. Before You Accuse Me
16. Wonderful Tonight
19. I’ve Got My Mojo Working (encore) *
Review by Tim Corlis
I have enjoyed Eric’s bands many times now. This event in this venue has been one of the better experiences. Tempos seemed quicker tonight. All the musicians seemed relaxed, engage, and tight as a band. Doyle Bramhall II played a far more inspired performance than I have seen before. The Arts Center facility was an excellent size venue. All in all it was an excellent evening.
Review by Bob Moncur
I first saw Clapton perform with Cream at MSG in 1968. His playing continues to rock me almost 40 years later. The Holmdel concert opened with Robert Randolph & The Family Band, an act I’d never seen but had heard many good things about. Robert is a Jersey guy, and a damn good guitarist himself. I really enjoyed his performance, he was a perfect opener for EC. After about a 30 minute break, Eric and his band started rocking and didnt let up for almost 2 hours. I had attended the 2005 Cream reunion shows in NY and had been a little disappointed because it seemed like Eric was holding back during those performances. Not this show. Eric and Doyle (who also impressed me) pushed each other all night, and the audience was the winner.
Review by Jim Bostrom
This was a long time coming and well worth the wait. I was apprehensive that the weather would be a negative factor, but it was a great evening, just a little on the cool side. On the drive to the concert from the Princeton vicinity, beautiful rainbows were visible for almost the entire east bound trip on route 33.
The crowd was a bit subdued, as the Robert Randolph Family band took the stage, due in part to a lack of announcements or marketing, and the fact that there was no video of the stage during their set. The music got the crowd warmed up, but it took some time to break the ice. They played a great 45 minute set.
Eric and the band took the stage at 8:40, opening with the Truth, and kicked ass for 2:20 minutes, only taking a break to accept the applause that rolled down through the crowd to the stage. He is a master of his craft, playing with speed and precision. Doyle Bramhall II paled in comparison, and seemed to be out of sync with Clapton’s style of play. The only other negative was the sound level and mixing, which was not together until the second number, and the vocals seemed to be lost at times.
Review by Mark A. Cenit
Since I have seen Clapton a couple of dozen times I decided it was finally time to introduce my five year old son to the experience. PNC is a perfect venue for his first experience. He has a broad knowledge of Clapton songs, but tends to like the faster, harder music. Knowing this was more of a blues show, I was a little worried about how he would react.
First I think he surprised everyone around when we went to buy him a shirt and he immediately announced he wanted the one with Blackie on it and told everyone around how it was Eric Clapton’s favorite guitar, and how he played it so much it wore out.
When Robert Randough came on he was dancing in his seat. Then Eric came on. His face lit up and he started singing and dancing alone with Tell the Truth. He really likes Hoochie Coochie Man and Outside Woman Blues. The band sounded tight and the set list was great. My big regret is that he was fading hard and we had to leave a little early. But what a great first concert. A family event we will all always remember.
Review by Bill Behan
I’m from Philadelphia & this was my 6th Clapton show since 1992 (I was 18 yrs. old) & I’ve seen him every time since then. THIS SHOW WAS AMAZING!!!! I thought I’d be a bit disappointed since the band got switched up a bit (i.e. no jordan on drums or weeks on bass) from the ’06 tour – but i couldn’t have been more WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!! BTW, how AWESOME was it to see Willie Weeks on bass on the ’06 tour??? I’m a big fan of George Harrison & became familiar w/Willie from George’s solo albums! Here’s my review!
Tell The Truth was a great opener & Eric played /sang it beautifully!!! Key To The Highway & Little Wing sounded great as well & it was actually refreshing to hear these songs!! I must say that Double Trouble was the "song of the night" for me…after hearing it so many times from his live albums from the ’70’s, I was so glad to finally hear it LIVE – he played & sang it so PASSIONATELY!!! He bares his soul while he’s playing & if you can’t see this, then YOU CAN’T SEE MUCH OF ANYTHING!!! Motherless Child, finally I see this song live!! It moved & grooved!!! Traveling Riverside Blues? That’s right, he played it & the slide said it ALL!!! I wasn’t expecting such a beautiful tribute to Robert Johnson – very nice!! Running On Faith coulda made me cry…Motherless Children made him stand back up from the "sit down" set & it TOTALLY ROCKED!!! That main lick sounded AWESOME!! Eric looked/sounded great & I HOPE HE NEVER STOPS!! He’s clearly having fun & he sounds great – voice & guitar! His band was AWESOME as well, they were great. His backup singers sounded wonderful as well!! I’m a huge fan & woulda been happy no matter what he played, but this set truly ROCKED!! I LEFT A VERY HAPPY FAN!
Review by John Yuro
As a college student, I am a relative newcomer to the deeper tracks, having only recently completely my Clapton discography. In anticipation for last night’s show, I was thinking perhaps a past set list, such as from the Reptile tour, would have been a little more "friendly" for a ‘greatest hits fan’ such as myself. On the contrary – last night’s show was perfect. Performances were top-notch and the sound at the venue was the best I’ve ever heard it (for Clapton’s set – Randolph’s opening left something to be desired). Doyle was on all night, Ian’s drums couldn’t be beat, and Chris’ keyboards were simply amazing. I was, however, somewhat disappointed with Pino’s work on bass – it seemed as if he wasn’t even there for the majority of the show. All in all, though, it was a great mix of tracks. "Tell the Truth" was a perfect opener, and it was great to hear "Little Wing" live. Personal highlights included "Key to the Highway," "Running on Faith," and "Before You Accuse Me." "Rockin’ Chair" was also excellent.
Review by Samuel Vona
This was my 12th Clapton show since 1998, first time NOT at MSG. I lucked out and got a VIP ticket from a friend. My frame of reference is coming from the last night of the Winwood-Clapton run at MSG which was so stunning that it’s probably skewing my review! At MSG I have a tradition of walking over and looking at the guitar rack while Lee does the last minute preparations before the performance. PNC staff didn’t allow me into the section to do that.
The volume and levels at PNC Bank Arts Center seemed to be working against the musicians. I first saw Eric perform Little Wing at MSG on June 30, 1999 at the Crossroads Benefit show. The volume was high, then, there and it really made the song so much more impactful than the puny volume at PNC. With the exception of Layla, Cocaine, and Got My Mojo Working, the volume was almost always too low and they never seemed to get a good mix that allowed you to hear what everyone was doing.
Eric was on auto-pilot for the majority of the night only really seeing to stretch outside of himself at the last few numbers. Doyle played with the most coherence and strength than I’ve seen him play since he first started touring in Eric’s band. I just wish he used fewer effects on his guitars. Chris Stainton was OUTSTANDING! On the past tour, it seemed like there was room for Willie Weeks to get down for a little spotlight action and I desperately wanted Pino to have that opportunity. The opportunity never seemed to present itself. A fine way to spend a nice, albeit chilly, night in NJ!
Review by Bernie Miller / Forked River NJ
Having enjoyed EC’s music for many years it was great to finally see him. The band rocked it out and sound was good (after the first song). I enjoyed the show very much, but the "fans" in attendance around me are another story. Sadly I had lawn seats and was up near the top center lawn. Those beside and behind me were obviously expecting the radio hits and were talking and or laughing – one girl having an idiotic bellicose laugh – through WAY too many of the songs. In fact they only shut up for ‘Layla’ and ‘Wonderful Tonight’, and ‘Cocaine.’
In addition, the guy in front of me had the audacity to yell out "put some effort into it Eric" about midway through the show – and he left a couple songs later ! This guy missed Layla and some great guitar jammin.’ Who the hell is he to criticize for not showing effort? Can any of us play guitar better ? Imo only BB King or Jimi Hendrix would have the right to admonish EC at this point in his life.
I do see where some are coming from more songs written by EC himself would have been welcome. He has many bluesy rockin’ tunes that many have heard before: Blues Power, Bell Bottom Blues, After Midnight, Let it Rain, Bad Love. If the show had no opener and an intermission, then he could have included some of these songs. When folks bought their tickets, I assume they were expecting a different type of show. This probably should have billed this as ‘Blues 08 tour’ or something to identify it as not a "greatest hits" show. The man I was with was in fact disappointed by the song choices, i.e. nothing from Journeyman*, but the musicianship was never criticized. Even though I froze at 45 degrees on the lawn, it was great to watch the large screen shots of ECs close-ups and the sound was commensurate on most songs. The blues set was fine with me. I would pay 3x as much to see this again with closer seats and respectful true fans nearby.Now ‘got my mojo workin’ for Bob Weir’s Ratdogs with the Allman Bros in Aug – with close seats !
* Ed. Note: Two songs from the "Journeyman" album were performed at this show: "Running On Faith" and "Before You Accuse Me." See setlist at right.
Review by Harry Krawitz
After the incredible Garden show with Steve Winwood, I was very excited for the show at PNC. I was expecting a mix of blues standards and rock hits as EC had done on recent tours. Instead I was disappointed to get a bunch of esoteric blues songs and wonderful tonight. Granted he played extremely well as always, especially on songs like double trouble and little queen of spades. But I paid all that money for Outside Women Blues?, Hoochie Coochie Man? Rockin Chair? My last Clapton concert sorry to say.