Venue: Madison Square Garden
City: New York
Country: United States
Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Steve Winwood – hammond organ, guitar, vocals
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Ian Thomas – drums
Opening night for Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton at Madison Square Garden. The three concerts were filmed and recorded for official release.
01. Had To Cry Today
02. Low Down
03. Forever Man
04. Them Changes
05. Sleeping In The Ground
06. Presence Of The Lord
08. Well Alright
09. Double Trouble
10. Pearly Queen
11. Tell The Truth
12. No Face
13. After Midnight
14. Split Decision
15. Ramblin’ On My Mind (EC solo)
16. Georgia On My Mind (SW solo)
17. Little Wing
18. Voodoo Child
19. Can’t Find My Way Home
20. Dear Mr Fantasy
21. Crossroads (encore)
Review by Dan Perkowski
OK…so when was the last time EC played Pearly Queen, Voodoo Child, Double Trouble, After Midnight, Mr. Fantasy and a collection of Blind Faith songs?? Looking very relaxed, that’s always a great sign for an outstanding evening. Opening with Had to Cry Today, Steve and EC were on and ready. EC seems to thrive on these limited venues, he was in great form and the band obviously were ready for what appears to be the first of three great shows. My only regret is having to fly home tomorrow. Highlights for me was Presence of the Lord, Double Trouble, After Midnight, Voodoo Child, Dear Mr. Fantasy. Eric said he wants to do more with Steve…we can only hope. 2 hours and 20 minutes of legendary stuff.
Review by Mike Iny
A must see concert, Winwood’s voice sounds great, Eric’s guitar even better. They seem to genuinely like playing together. The last 4 songs- Voodoo Child, Can’t Find My Way Home, Dear Mr. Fantasy, Crossroads alone are worth the price of admission. No matter what you pay.
Review by Joe “the Sculptor”
If you went with expectations of seeing an Eric Clapton concert, you would be disappointed (as I heard a few people mumble on the way out). This was not Steve Winwood AND Eric Clapton, it was Winwood WITH Clapton. Eric only sang about 1/3 of the songs with almost none of what you’d expect. But if you went to the concert looking for a great time, that was what you received. I’ve seen Eric six times, and I never heard him perform 2/3 of the music he did last night; a lot of Blind Faith, a lot of Traffic, and several old blues standards. Eric’s guitar soared through them all, as did Winwood’s during “Dear Mr. Fantasy”. A major highlight was, after performing “Little Wing” by Hendrix, Eric went right into Jimi’s “Voodoo Child” and blew the crowd away.
Review by Sal Cirrincione
Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood lived up to the hype last night at New York’s Madison Square Garden as the former Blind Faith bandmates delivered a solid two-and-a-half-hour set before a sold out crowd of 18-thousand. Backed by a three-piece band and playing on a low, open stage, they did a 21-song set of Blind Faith, Cream, Traffic, Derek and the Dominos, covers and solo material — sharing vocals and playing off one another. Casually dressed in jeans and dark shirts, they opened with “Had to Cry” off the only Blind Faith album. They played guitars for the first two numbers before Winwood switched to his Hammond B-3 organ and grand piano for the bulk of the show.
For fans who’ve waited years to see Clapton jam and do numerous solos, this was the show — and the smile on his face was proof that he was having fun. Just before the 14th song, a solo acoustic version of “Ramblin’ on My Mind,” Clapton uttered his first and only words of the show besides “thank you” when he said, “It’s a great thrill to play with Steve. I’ve been looking forward to it for a very long time and I think we’re enjoying it. I’m enjoying it and I hope you are.”
Winwood then came on and before his solo take on the Ray Charles classic “Georgia on My Mind,” done on the Hammond B-3, he said that it’s “an honor to play with Eric.” The two played together in concert last year for the first time in 25 years — first at a U-K benefit, then at Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago.
There were numerous highlights, included among them was the tribute to Jimi Hendrix — “Them Changes,” which Winwood covered, “Little Wing,” and “Voodoo Chile,” which featured a smoking solo from Clapton. The vocal interplay on such numbers as “Forever Man,” and “Tell the Truth” was memorable, as was the guitar playing by both on “Dear Mr. Fantasy.”
Review by Dave / Glastonbury, CT
Last night I was one of the lucky ones to see two of the greatest Blues Rock musicians in history: Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. In my 38 years I have seen well over three hundred concerts, including Eric Clapton on two occaisons and Steve Winwood in the eighties. While those shows were all great, they paled in comparison to the Epic event I witnessed last night.
Steve Winwood is such a compliment to Eric Clapton, vocally and musically, it’s astonishing. These guys soared through a two hour plus set of classics and shared Blind Faith material, as well as Traffic and individual solo material, like the true legends they are. While the Blind Faith and Traffic material surely got the biggest ovations, I was struck by how well “Forever Man”, from Clapton’s “Behind the Sun” came off with the two sharing vocals. I had heard that FM was not a tune EC was all that fond of any longer but it didn’t show at all and was highlight for me as I have always loved the tune.
Vocally and musically, Steve Winwood was in top form. He’s always had one of the greatest voices in rock, but at almost sixty years old it’s astonishing how beautiful and textured his voice sounds; I was blown away. Speaking of blown away…I am not sure any adjectives or descriptions I could offer about Eric’s guitar playing would add or enhance this geniuses legend at this point but let me just, as a musician myself, this guy played a set of amazing blues rock, with some inspired and intricate soloing that was out of this world. I have never seen a guitar player live that has impressed me more than what EC did last night.
Overall this was no question the best live music event I have ever witnessed, with particular song highlights for me being “Double Trouble”, “Forever Man”, “Split Decision”, “Can’t Find My Way Home”, “Low Down” and “After Midnight”, though there were no duds in the mix. I am heading next to EBAY for a ticket for the Thursday night show, and I really hope these guys extend their tour and/or decide to record and play together for a longer stint. The music world would be eternally gracious!
Review by Frank Teger
I’ve been a huge fan of EC and have never had the privilege of seeing him perform live, yes I’m a noob to his live shows, but that doesn’t take away from my appreciation of EC and what he has to say through his music. Winwood is another that I’ve never seen live, but when it comes to pure rhythm and melody, Winwood is at the top of my list. I’ve been privy to his new CD due out next month called Nine Lives and it starts off where his last release “About Time” left off, world Rhythms mixed with Blues, rock and Jazz an excellent release In my opinion, but last night is what we are talking about here and I must say at first it was a very subdued crowd just kind of feeling out what was in store. I guess they were reacting to the energy that was coming of the stage because that’s how it appeared as if EC and Winwood were kind of feeling their way on stage, but as soon as the band started of the groove in Forever Man which was the 3rd son into the show, the band and the crowd started to liven up! The first full crowd pleaser was when Eric and Stevie traded verses in Presence of The Lord and you now knew you were witnessing a very special moment in musical history. Eric and Stevie looked very comfortable on stage often taking time to just pause look and smile at each other, often standing next to each other and just chatting away while 20,000 on lookers wondered what they were talking about. They looked like 2 “brothers” who had a very deep mutual respect for each other, but more so like there was a bond that they both shared called Time. I must say the rhythm section of Willie Weeks on Bass Ian Thomas on drums and Chris Stainton on keys was spectacular, grooving like only seasoned musicians can groove, knowing that they too were making history as the backline for EC and Stevie. EC then sat down to do an acoustic version of Ramblin on My Mind, but before he started he stated he knew he had to talk eventually and that this would be the moment for him to talk. He thanked everyone and said how he has wanted to do this with Stevie for a “very long Time” he also said that it “feels so good that we may just do more of this,” One can only hope for new EC/Winwood material and a tour!!! Then the show jumped to a higher level when EC started those opening strums of the guitar and the melody of Little Wing started to take shapeâ€¦ And She’s Walking Through The Cloudsâ€¦ Women started to sway and men including me closed our eyes and reminisced about the first time we heard Little Wing, It moved me almost to tears and Eric and Stevie traded vocals for each verse, which made the song so much more special. Then they played a very bluesy version of Voodoo Child, slow, bluesy, dark just the way I like it! Stevie then got up from his keyboards and strapped on his hollow body Telecaster and proceeded to jam on Can’t Find My Way Home which was a perfect segue into Dear Mr. Fantasy to which Stevie then strapped on his sea foam green Stratocaster and proceeded to remind us that he’s just not a organ player, but a phenomenal guitar player. Crossroads was the final song for the encore and how apropos as both EC and Winwood have traveled on their own roads over the past 39 years only to have them crisscross again at Madison Square Garden. Here’s a fan who hopes that their roads parallel for a while before splitting up again.
Review by Peter Grassel
It seemed to take a couple of songs for the two mega-stars to get in sync both musically and for the soundboard to blend the keyboard and guitar heros sounds, maybe the unfamiliarity or rust from not playing together, or at all lately, but it soon all came together and all one had to do was look at the smile of admiration on the face of Steve Winwood after one of the many splendid solos Eric Clapton performed in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden to know that slowhand was back in true form. Without the accompanying guitarists from his last touring band, Clapton was left to do what he does best, fill in all the empty spaces with eloquent melodies that he alone does better than any guitarist in the world. When the first bars of Little Wing was played, it cemented in me the realization that I was witnessing something special, not a tour, not just another gig in a string of cities and dates but a get together long overdue between two friends and admirers. It was a truly special evening and we as fans are blessed that EC chose the world’s greatest arena to stage this long overdue reunion. It was thrilling and left me with goosebumps.
Review by Joseph “Bobo” Gifford / Long Island
I saw the show last night ( from great seats) and was very pleased. Stevies voice is as strong as ever, and the ability of these 2 to complement each other on material previously unshared was uncanny. It felt like Clapton was a bit tentative early on ( during his solo acoustic number he said “I think we are having fun”), but by the time they played Glad he had hit stride. It seems that having such a pro as Steve Winwood share the spotlight makes Eric have to perform with passion…; anything less would be unnaceptable.
The Garden sound was surprising clean, as Winwood rotated from guitar to Hammond organ to grand piano, each sounding through wonderfully. The acoustic guitar came out for only one cut all nite. Clapton stayed away from his more “personal” material ( Layla, Wonderful Tonite, Tears in Heaven) in favor of straight blues oriented rock, which is exactly what the 5 piece band was designed for ( no horns, no backing vocalists, tambourines etc)
This may not have been the greatest performance in Claptons long career ( Derek and the Domioes at the Fillmore happened a LOOOOONG time ago), but it was so thoroughly entertaining and balanced it may as well have been.
Review by Greg Riley
EC has admittedly (autobiography) dialed it down over the last few years as father time catches up with him. He regularly vacates center stage and gives Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall 2 time in the spotlight. Last nights show at the world’s most famous arena exploded that myth and provided a platform for two rock icons to explore and engage in a collaborative effort that may well last for years to come.
Midway through the set and before performing Robert Johnson’s “Ramblin” on acoustic, a giddy Clapton told a reverent Garden audience that it was a thrill to be playing with Stevie, and that “who knows”. Winwood returned the favor and played a rousing and inspiring version of “Georgia”, humbling stating that it was an “honor” to be playing with Eric and that he “better stop talking and start playing”. They then thrilled the large crowd with “Little Wing” and a newly arranged version of “Voodoo Child” which highlighted Winwood’s pipes and EC’s staggering virtuosity.
Having seen Clapton at the Garden last year and with Cream in ’05 and a dozen times before that, I can’t remember seeing him more animated and emotionally charged. The usually stoic Slowhand was laughing, smiling and clearly enjoyed the odyssey that was unfolding onstage. The king has reclaimed the throne and shone that when he steps up, he’s in a class and world of his own.
To hear Winwood sing “my way home” ,”Fantasy” and the traditional encore,” Crossroads”, was a thrill of a lifetime. If this effort turns out to be more than just a 3 night gig, don’t walk, RUN to the next show and see why the magic is back!
Review by Joe Lowe / Murfreesboro, N.C.
This was a concert of firsts for me. I had never seen EC or SW before although I have loved their music over the years starting with the Yardbirds and Traffic. I also never planned on paying that much to see a show. My wife talked me into it on the condition that she never tell me what the tickets cost. The idea of going through a broker is a total ripoff to me psychologically but now that I have been scalped I have to say it was worth it. Why take a chance on never seeing these two together when you are in town and can afford it? As all the Boomers age we realize there are some things we just have to do before something stops us.
Also I’m a musician who just left a band so seeing one of the tightest that could be assembled is a good way to bring closure to something that wasn’t working. But it also inspires me to keep playing in hope of finding something that will work. When people experience a loss they often go back to their roots or past spiritual learnings to find strength and seeing Eric and Steve was such a return for me. And maybe for them too as they played together about as well as any two guys who used to be in the same band could on Mon. night Feb.25.
Reflecting on what Eric said in his recently published autobiography he never really trusted his role in Blind Faith. His initial attraction was the opportunity to play with Steve but he never wanted to take a lead role as a singer even on songs he wrote. He was so afraid of being typecast as a rock superstar or being in the first band labeled “supergroup” he was willing to give it all up to go with Delaney and Bonnie after less than one year on the road and one very legendary album. But in doing so he lost the chance to enter into a longer period of creative collaboration with an equally talented singer and songwriter (SteveW). So seeing and hearing them blending vocals and solos on all those Blind Faith songs was especially meaningful. Looks like they can find their way home together once again even if its just for a few shows.
This was an important show for fans of these two artists. Clapton and Winwood helped show us in the 60s how new musical forms (like what would later be labeled hard rock and psychedelic) can come from older forms of popular music expression like the Blues and Rock and Roll. Such creativity was one of the natural highs of coming of age in the sixties. These two performers were a driving force in the evolution of Rock as it came to be known. Clapton continually reminds us of the importance of the Blues as a tool for breaking down musical divisions and barriers between styles of music and the people that perform it; And that it is a wellspring to launch countless improvisations with musicians and songs both young and old.
But there was more than just a nostalgic overtone to the concert. Most folks there are well aware by now of their mortality. But also of who was lost( Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Jones, Duane Allman) too early just to name a few. The guys singing and playing their hearts out on stage made us all feel like survivors.
Review by Paige Schector / Newark, NJ
There’s an expectation when it comes to a show like the full-fledged Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood reunion that is almost unfair. And yet, after seeing the first Madison Square Garden show on Feb. 25, I have to say that the guys wound up surpassing the very very high hopes.
From the very first notes of Had to Cry Today, it was something familiar AND something spectacular. Maybe it’s what Eric pictured years and years ago when he thought of joining forces with Steve Winwood. And what was particularly special for the EC aficionados was Eric’s guitar up front and center. We love and respect Doyle Bramhall II, Derek Trucks and others who have played with EC, but I think the lion’s share of us would love to have EC do the lion’s share of heavy lifting at his shows. With Had to Cry Today, we found out he would.
Now there were spoilers on the ‘Net and thus floating around New York City, but I personally wanted to steer clear. And in retrospect, I think that gave my enjoyment of the show an added kick. On the second song, I was “tricked” into thinking Lay Down Sally was coming next, before they went into the sweetly countrified Low Down. But there was NO mistaking Forever Man when the early notes of that rare choice started. We recognize that as a “pop” number, but we love it as much as any blues.
Sleeping in the Ground was particularly amazing to me. When talk of this show started, I was adamant about saying I would prefer that song that didn’t make the Blind Faith album cut to EC and Stevie just rolling out their hits. It was spectacular that this one came out to play. Presence of the Lord, Glad/All Right, Double Trouble, Pearly Queen … it was just one high point after another. And then to get Tell the Truth, well, I’m starting to lose words for how it felt to be experiencing it.
The guys didn’t chat with the audience until they sat down for their respective solos. Eric’s acoustic Ramblin’ on My Mind just resonated through a huge arena — how does he sustain his notes? I always marvel at that. And Steve’s Georgia on My Mind was a particular thrill, since I remember an interview with Eric from decades ago. He was talking about the Blind Faith venture and why he wanted to play with Winwood and particularly referenced Georgia, marveling at how the “skinny little kid” could sing and play just like Ray Charles. It was an amazing moment to hear and experience what Eric had all those years ago.
Little Wing. Well that’s my personal favorite, and I just had to let go and be emotional. I was asked if it was more like Hendrix or more like Derek and the Dominos’ version, and I really think it was closer to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version but with Eric and Steve exchanging vocal verses. So amazing.
And then the highpoint of this show … of any show. Voodoo Chile. So unexpected and right away I was thrilled I didn’t read or hear any spoilers. But then you get into the song and the singing was impeccable and the solos were incendiary. Eric lifted the entire into the stratosphere and we orbited the earth until we finally had to come back down. I now count that as the greatest soloing in the greatest song in the greatest show I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing live. Truly dazzling.
What follows that? It wasn’t a letdown. Because it was an amazing Dear Mr. Fantasy and then Can’t Find My Way Home, and everything you felt when those songs were fresh and new to you was renewed with these versions. The men needed a break and took a short one while the audience stood, clapped and cheered the whole time. Then Eric and Steve found themselves back at the Crossroads. Like coming full circle.
I’m so appreciative of this show and the friends I got to share the moments with before and during and after. Eric and Steve are as vital and vibrant today because they are true musicians. It’s not in them to not play and to not be excellent. So glad I got to witness this full-fledged reunion. And I’m still trying to find the right adjectives to describe it all. Thanks to them and their families and those who brought this moment to us.
Review by L Mettler
I was at the show in the Garden last night and was very disappointed. They never even introduced the band… How could they slight them like that? Also – having been at all the Clapton shows and the Cream shows – I was also noticed a lack of energy….. They could get the crowd going for a bit – and then – it dies off – as did their energy. It was as if they mailed this one in… Not what I expected. I will say that Winwood disappointed me more than Clapton – who did his part. But as a whole – something was missing. The best of the show was of course Mr. Fantasy – but nothing else came close. Did anyone one else feel like this?
Review by Tom Adams / Brewster, NY
The concert at Madison Square Garden on Monday night 2/25/8, was my Christmas present from my wife (Lori) and two sons (Jeff & Danny); it was the best Christmas ever. I am 58 years old; I never saw either Eric or Steve in concert before, a product from the early sixties; I can still remember Eric and Steve in their first few years of recording with variouse groups. They were the leaders of their musical generation then and still have the ability and skill to move thousands of people today.
It was by far one of the best concerts I have not only seen but herd. Although some concert attendees may have wanted more of one performer than the other I thought their collective set list was great. It covered Bind Faith, Traffic, Clapton, Windwood and surprisingly Hendrix. Both musicians are extremely professional but their close relationship as friends could be seen throughout. This was a once in a lifetime event; I will carry the experience with me. Thank you Eric and Steve.
Review by Dan Gelman / Westport, CT
This was one of those magical nights where two legends in a generation of music played with a touch of maturity that left you with a smile on your face. It was awesome to witness so many years later!