Concert Details

15 June 2009 – Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood


Venue: Schottenstein Center

City: Columbus

State/Province: OH

Country: United States

Band Lineup:

Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Steve Winwood – vocals / Hammond B3 / piano / guitar
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Abe Laboriel, Jr. – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals



Show Notes:

Clapton and Winwood continued to tweak the set list – “Crossroads” was dropped and “Split Decision” was brought back. Notably Winwood performed “There’s A River” in place of “No Face” and that “Nobody Knows You” was dropped in favour of “How Long Blues.”

Set List:

01. Had To Cry Today
02. Low Down
03. After Midnight
04. Presence of The Lord
05. Sleeping in the Ground
06. Glad
07. Well Alright
08. Tough Luck Blues
09. Pearly Queen
10. There’s A River
11. Little Wing
12. Forever Man
13. Georgia On My Mind
14. Driftin’
15. How Long Blues
16. Layla
17. Can’t Find My Way Home
18. Split Decision
19. Voodoo Chile
20. Cocaine
21. Dear Mr. Fantasy (encore)

Fan Reviews:

Review by Len Toma / Cleveland OH
I drove from Cleveland to Columbus for a 2nd row seat for the concert tonight. I can’t even guess how many times I’ve seen Eric in concert and have an incredible collection of his works, especially live. I first saw him in concert, in Columbus, in 1974 on the tour when he ended his hiatus.

The concert tonight was the best I’ve ever heard or seen Eric play: live, recorded, DVD’s – anything. I couldn’t believe what he was doing and what I was hearing. The band is fantastic, but I can’t even begin to describe Eric’s incredible performance. He obviously enjoyed it too. I’ve been to other exceptional Clapton concerts before, but tonight’s just blows them away. This band is the best I’ve heard him work with since Derek and the Dominos; Abe Laboriel being the best drummer Eric’s worked with since Jim Gordon.

I don’t know if it was because of the presence of his family or just an incredibly magical night, but Eric’s playing tonight was a once in a lifetime experience. I’d consider flying to another upcoming concerts, but I don’t know if a performance like this can ever be repeated, or it just wouldn’t be the same hearing it again. If this is what all the concerts in this tour are like, you’re crazy not to go. I’ll send more info after I come back down to earth. Its been 4-1/2 hours and I’m still in awe. Eric, that was fantastic!

Review by Glenn Burns / Bowling Green OH
Terrific show tonight in “Cowtown”. Clapton’s solos were tight, loud, and even adventurous, particularly during the Winwood songs.
“Nobody Knows You” was dropped, and the set list also did not include “No Face”. Instead, Steve sang “There’s A River” from 1982’s forgotten Talking Back To The Night, I presume for the first time with Clapton. I’ve always loved that tune, and it stood out easily from the rest of that album. I was shocked when they started it, and that and “Can’t Find My Way Home” were worth the price of admission for me.
“Cocaine” was surprisingly snappy and very heavy at the same time. Chris Stainton’s huge piano solo at the end really helped turn a tired song into a real highlight, and the EC solo had a wicked ‘morse code’ start that reminded me of the Budokan version.

The switch to Abe Laboriel on drums changes everything from the MSG recordings … Much bigger low end now, and his fills are wilder than Ian Thomas. Getting the two backing singers was a benefit to “Split Decision” especially, but they got in Steve’s way a couple of times, particularly in “Can’t Find My Way Home” as they doubled his voice.

For me, the one let down was “Layla”. The acoustic version just treads water, and seems forced into this setting. An obligation, not a pleasure. Adding a Cream song in its place, like “Badge” or “SWLABR” (which Winwood could really do well, I bet) would be a smart move.
But, all tweaks aside, I have never enjoyed listening to Eric play live as much as I did tonight. True to form, when paired with a contemporary, he shines far brighter than any solo outing.  I could see the show again right now.

Review by Valerie / Central Ohio
I can’t believe I am writing this! Seeing EC was on my husband’s and my ‘bucket list’. Since my daughter just got married (last week), and all the expenses that were incurred, we knew we weren’t going to be able to do much this summer. One thing we did do for ourselves it get floor seats to this concert, $300. We were so looking forward to ‘our time’.

We’ve been to a number of concerts over the past 35 years and I have to say, this one was the biggest disappointment. I hate saying that, but sadly it’s the truth! We were so siked and excited to be going!! I guess the concert would have been better billed as Steve Winwood with back up Eric Clapton. I heard quite a few comments after the concert of those who shared our opinions, as we were herded back to our cars.

Like my husband said, he did not play to the fan base in attendance. Don’t get me wrong, he played incredibly! Although the acoustic Layla was a bit slow, draggy, and I heard several people around us talking about that. We kept thinking that EC was going to break out at any moment, but that did not happen. Steve Winwood even sang most of “Cocaine”, what’s up with that? Total disappointment to all!
Now, $300 may not be much to the musicians, but here in central OH, that’s a helluva lot of money. It didn’t break us fortunately, but I couldn’t help but to look around at the bored crowd, thinking that many of these people had probably been laid off of work since they bought their tickets. Which made me feel bad for those people, spending that money when it could have been put to better use. Of course, I couldn’t help to wonder if EC was ill and that was the problem. If that was the case, it would have only been fair and right to have said he was a bit under the weather, but he would still put on his best concert possible. But if you looked around the vast majority of the audience could have been AARP card carrying members!

We wanted to here the songs that brought back wonderful memories of when we were younger. That did not happen. I walked out of there feeling like I lost my best friend! We saw the Eagles (for our second time … first being in 1975) at the same venue this spring. Yes, they played some new things, but they knew their audience and they catered to us with some wonderful hits that evoked memories of times gone by. I expected, and apparently others, to experience the same type of emotions at this concert. I’m still shaking my head in surprise that this concert was so disappointing. It would have been nice to have been considered in the choice of songs and actually heard Eric sing more than he did, and play some of his hits … that we helped make hits!

Review by Michael Taylor / Columbus OH
Saw EC 1970’s at St. Johns in C-Bus. Saw him again last night. EC is still God.

Review by Laurie / Columbus OH

I’m prompted to write this review after reading the unfavorable one from the disappointed person from Central Ohio. I think we were at different shows! I’ve seen Clapton at two very different points in his career – mid-70s and early 90s – and although both times were amazing, neither compared to last night’s performance. I also saw Winwood in the late 80s when he was doing a solo tour and he was amazing, but these two guys together was something inspired. It is clear that they bring out the best in each other.

The Blind Faith songs showed 40 years of experience and perfection and they were performed at a level that I wouldn’t have believed possible. The smiles and nod from EC to SW at the close of “Can’t Find My Way Home” just showed that they felt it as well. EC playing on the Traffic songs raised them to a new level. Hearing the first notes of “Glad” I wondered how it could work with no sax. Silly me! With Eric on guitar, who needs sax? And although “Dear Mr. Fantasy” would not have occurred to me as an encore, it was perfect!

The acoustic set was incredible and displayed both of their talents on acoustic guitar. I’d forgotten that Winwood was as masterful on guitar as keyboards!

The band was ideal. The perfect back-up. I even enjoyed the female vocalists although I think they were a little overpowering a couple of times.

But the most over riding feeling that still remains this morning is euphoria of listening to EC and his guitar. I had goose bumps for most of the evening. From beginning to end of “Little Wing” and during at least one point of every song! My expectations were high and totally surpassed. Beyond anything I could have imagined.

I’m sorry that the couple from the earlier review were disappointed and I admit “Let it Rain”, “Blues Power” and “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” would have put me over the edge but the set list they performed was inclusive of their work together and on their own and with a body of work like theirs we’d still be there if they did it all.


Review by Paul Yoder / Westerville OH
Well what can I say but Eric and Steve came to play and tonight’s concert was arguably better than the one I saw in MSG last year! From the first note on “Had to Cry Today” you could tell Eric especially had his game face on. I always think he plays a little better in Columbus as his family attends (and he said hello to them) and I think he puts that extra feeling into each song. It did seem to me that Eric was more into playing tonight than singing and on “Low Down” (the 2nd song) he was so into playing he forgot to come back to the microphone to join with Steve and literally ran to catch up! It was a funny moment.

The band came on at 8:20pm and played 2 hours and 10 minutes and I would have to say that the highlights of the show were “Little Wing,” “Voodoo Chile” and the encore “Dear Mr. Fantasy”. Eric’s riffs where unbelievable at times and I caught myself wondering if I actually heard someone playing at that level! And Steve on “Fantasy” was burning the frets up!

Abe on the drums and the back up singers did a good job but a special mention of Chris on the keyboards is necessary. He is truly one of the finest keyboard players I have ever heard and at times I could swear it was Johnny Johnson playing!

The set list did change some with no “Crossroads” (disappointment) and they switched the order somewhat and from a personal note, while I realize they put some of the songs in because they are crowd favorites (“Cocaine”, “After Midnight”), I would rather have them play more blues.Dont miss this tour! Eric and Steve play off of each other and both are relaxed and at the top of their games!

Review by Russell Proctor / Highland Heights KY
I must say, I’m mystified at Valerie’s review of this concert. I thought it was great from start to finish. Valerie needs to understand that this was a Clapton / Winwood concert, not a Clapton concert. Steve Winwood has every right to share the billing with Eric Clapton – they are two of the all-time greats. Eric knows that and that’s why he’s touring with Winwood. If you were expecting Winwood to be Clapton’s backup singer at this concert, then you just don’t get it. They deserved to share the stage.

I saw Clapton in this same venue a couple of years ago. Last night’s concert was so much better. There were so many great songs in which these two artists enhanced each other’s work.

Highlights were:
– Had To Cry Today (the song that electrified the Crossroads concert a few years ago)
– Presence of the Lord (not my favorite song of theirs, but this rendition was soulful)
– Little Wing (so good)
– Split Decision (love this song – the intro always sounds like George Harrison, even though it was Joe Walsh who played on the album recording)
– Voodoo Chile (hard to pick up at first, but the chorus was powerful)
– Cocaine (hardly my favorite Clapton song, but the keyboard solo at the end was incredible)

Best of the night:
– Can’t Find My Way Home (loved Eric and the backup singers adding to the acoustic mix)

Worst of the night:
– Layla (sorry, the acoustic version does nothing for me – although the young female fans loved it)

A few more observations:
– I wish Clapton and Winwood talked to the crowd more, but I know that’s not their style. But they could have at least given the band members a shout-out, eh?
– A few too many guitar solos for me. Clapton was in rare form, but now and then it would be nice to hear a tight, 4-5 minute version of a hit song. Sometimes the solos seemed unnecessary and gratuitous.

Overall rating: 9 out of 10. Great stuff. Valerie, you need to understand how much Winwood added to this mix. He made this Clapton concert so much better than the one I saw here a couple of years ago. No disrespect to Eric, but Stevie just makes him better.

Review by Ted Remington / Fort Wayne IN
I just got back from Columbus seeing the Clapton/Winwood concert and wanted to share a few thoughts. This was my sixth time seeing EC live and my first time seeing Winwood.

As several reviews have noted, the concert in general and EC’s playing in particular were fantastic. While I don’t know that anything can top seeing EC the first time (back on the Journeyman tour), this was one of my favorite EC concert experiences, far surpassing the fine but rain-shortened solo show in Indianapolis last summer. I won’t give a blow by blow run down of the set list, but I wanted to pass on a few observations.

First, I see that one reviewer bemoans the lack of “hits” in the show. While I can sympathize with someone going to see EC for the first time not feeling they got what they wanted from this particular concert, but this show is an equal billing EC / Winwood show. The set list wonderfully mixed Blind Faith, Traffic and Winwood and Clapton solo material, along with some fine covers including Little Wing and Voodoo Child, Hendrix tunes that have personal connections to both men. (Little Wing appearing on the Derek and the Dominos album; Winwood playing on the original recording of Voodoo Chile on the Electric Ladyland album). There was no shortage of nostalgia or “blast-from-the-past” numbers. In fact, the only “new” material were one song each from mid-1980s solo works (Split Decision and Forever Man)! In short, it’s difficult to imagine anyone finding fault with the set list if they understood that this wasn’t an EC concert, but an equal partnership of two artists.

And that’s the thing that most impressed me about the performance, particularly compared to the MSG release of their shows last year. More than on the recordings, EC and Winwood truly shared singing and instrumental duties on songs, rather than having a “Winwood song” followed by an “EC song.” The standout number for me was “Presence of the Lord,” where EC and Winwood traded verses, then did a wonderful and moving call-and-response in the final verse. In a concert filled with wonderful moments, that is the one that will stick with me most vividly.

As noted, There’s a River replaced No Face, which I personally liked. The latter is a lovely song, but sounds a bit thin on the MSG release – perhaps the one time when Winwood seems to be straining with his voice. River was smoother and allowed for a more active participation by the whole band, including EC on acoustic guitar. We would have loved to have heard Nobody Knows You, (one of my wife’s favorites), but “How Long” was a competent replacement.

There’s a school of thought that EC plays best when sharing the stage rather than being the sole focus. This is my first time seeing him in a non-solo setting, but nothing I heard last night would contradict this. His playing was stellar throughout and seemed to get better as the concert went on, reaching a climax in two lengthy and creative solos on Voodoo Chile.

On a technical note, EC did a lot of finger picking on electric guitar during the last third of the set, which I hadn’t seen him do before, creating a sound distinct from his flatpicking, particularly in softer passages.
Winwood was, as one would expect, wonderful on keyboards, but also great on guitar, especially on the last few songs (and particularly on the encore, Mr. Fantasy). Again, for folks interested in guitar minutiae, it looked like Winwood’s guitar was a first generation EC signature strat (the one with Lace sensor pickups, not the more recent version with Noiseless Vintage pickups). I’m not aware of the EC signature strat coming in the distinctive mint green color of Winwood’s guitar, but it might be a custom color on this particular instrument.

On Mr Fantasy in particular, I noticed not only how good Winwood was, but also the apparent influence of EC on his playing. Early in the show, Winwood’s playing was different from Eric’s, but toward the end, he was regularly letting fly with Clapton-esque runs. If I had closed my eyes, I would have been hard-pressed to tell which man was playing. That says something both about Winwood’s chops, as well as the apparent influence that working with Eric has had on is playing since reuniting.

The only thing that would have made the show even more special would have been for Winwood and EC to have talked even just a little bit more with each other and / or the crowd. Winwood briefly greeted the crowd before Georgia and EC greeted his Columbus family at one point, but that was it. As a veteran of EC shows, I know stage banter isn’t his thing and I certainly wouldn’t expect some sort of Martin and Lewis schtick, but even the occasional remark introducing a Blind Faith song would have added a slightly greater sense of intimacy to the night, but that’s nitpicking.

One last word about the venue: this was without doubt, the best concert experience I’ve had at a venue of this size. Getting to the arena was a breeze, parking was easy and free, the staff from the front gate to the security folks were friendly and helpful, the big screen video monitors gave incredibly crisp images, and the sound was easily the best I’ve heard at a venue of this size. Even the traffic getting home after the show was minimal. I’ve never experienced a better run event of this sort on a technical side, both in terms of the venue and the crew of the event itself.

Thanks to Eric and Steve for a lovely evening that I’ll always remember! My hope is that being within driving distance of one of EC’s “home towns” will allow me a chance to see him again in the future, but until then, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have seen him playing with an old friend and playing such a wonderful and diverse set list. Thanks again.
Review by Katy Ball / Lebanon OH

All I can say is WOW! I am still just blown away by the musicianship that I witnessed! This was my first time seeing Eric Clapton ,although we had tickets years back and were unable to attend, I grew up with his music and always was just amazed. The sheer talent that was on that stage was amazing! I was in awe and still am soaring this morning. It really is a cool thing when you just get swept away into the music and could really have just listened to them play all night. Voodoo Chile, was just AMAZING! I was hoping to hear Wonderful Tonight, but maybe next time! I have to say that my favorite EC music is when he plays the blues down and dirty. I’m always just in awe. I thought the show was great last night!

Review by Jim Smith / Logan OH
My wife and I were at the show in Columbus last night and I would have to say mediocre at best. I am a big fan of EC and have enjoyed Steve Winwood over the years. But, last night could have been Steve Windwood overshadowing Eric Clapton. Winwood was just too loud. And even on the familiar Clapton tunes, he did most, if not all, of the vocals. Although, he did them well. EC was, as always, perfect. No one does it any better, blues, rock, acoustic. You name it, his playing was above par. Some of the best I’ve ever heard. The band was great, Abe on drums especially. But,I still think they should tone down Steve and share the stage. Maybe this is why Blind Faith didn’t work over 40 years ago?

Review by Bob Jenkins / Centerburg OH
“Outstanding Show” seems lacking in describing such a fine concert. A sold out house enjoyed one very rare concert.

I waited 40 years to hear Blind Faith songs played by Clapton and Winwood and it was way better than I ever dreamed it would be.

Eric could not have been more on than he was tonight, he was fully engaged from start to finish. Steve Winwood played great (piano, Hammond B3 and guitar) and provided some very fine vocals. The exchange that both Clapton and Winwood did on each other’s music gave new life to their songs. Clapton gave new life to Traffic songs with his blistering guitar play and Winwoods vocals gave new life to Clapton tunes. Steve even got nasty on his Fender on Cocaine.

Setlist not only contained a great list of songs (Blind Faith, Traffic, Slowhand, Derek and the Dominos, Hendrix, and classic blues), but the order they were played in also added greatly to the night.

The supporting band was great with Abe Laboriel playing great on drums, Chris Stainton providing some great keyboard solos, while Willie Weeks held it down on bass. The two backup singers also added to a great sound.

I think the one person who enjoyed the show the most was Steve Winwood as he was the last to leave the stage and he kept looking back at the audience smiling and applauding them the whole time.

Last, the packed house audience continuously showed the band their appreciation with very loud applause after each song and solo, which was as it should be. A Great Night!

Review by Rob Gabbard / Cincinnati OH
I made the trek from Cincinnati with 3 other 40-somethings and it was well worth it. I’ve seen Eric at least a half dozen times since the Journeyman tour, including two years ago at the Schottenstein, a show that leaned heavily on the Derek and Dominoes material and a show that I didn’t think could be topped. I was wrong. Last night’s show was everything you could ask for in such a reunion. For all the times I’ve seen Eric, I’ve never seen him work so hard to please. It was clear he was pushing himself last night.

The natural thing for anyone to do would be to compare this concert to the Madison Square Garden performance, captured brilliantly on DVD / CD. The most notable change is the addition of Abe Laboriel, Jr on drums and I’ll have to say that he pushed the sound and energy level higher. It’s no wonder he’s played on major tours with the likes of Clapton and McCartney before reaching the age of 40. I could’ve done without the backup singers. I prefer a more stripped down sound and they added a bit too much “gloss” to the sound at times. As for the setlist, the most welcome addition was “Tough Luck Blues” and Eric really nails it in a similar vein as he did for similar numbers during the From The Cradle tour. The Winwood tune “There’s a River” didn’t add much and brought the energy level down for a song that doesn’t standout. I would’ve preferred to hear something from last year’s exceptionally strong Nine Lives album. And although I was looking forward to “Nobody Knows You…”, their version of “How Long” was a great alternative.

I’m sorry to see from her review that Valerie didn’t enjoy the show. It sounds as if she went in expecting a Clapton and Winwood hits show not realizing the musical legacy that both artists share and were paying tribute to.

There were way too many standout moments to list but the one that reverberated with me was toward the end of Voodoo Chile when Eric and Steve’s guitar / keyboard showdown reached it’s quietest moment. Although we were in the nosebleed section, the crowd was so awestruck you could still hear each note crystal clear. You won’t experience many moments like that at a soldout amphitheater concert these days.

Review by Linda / Erie PA
Let me just say that I have been flying high since the first note of the concert in Columbus on Monday night. My brother drove 120 miles on Monday morning to meet me in Erie, PA. Then we drove 240 miles to Columbus. Then we drove back to Erie and after a few hours sleep, my brother had the 120 mile trip back to his home. I was so worried about the drive. Now I know I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I thought the show would only be 25 percent as good as it was! Everyone else has written pretty good reviews, so I’ll just say that I agree wholeheartedly that this was one of the best shows ever. The opening lyrics are prophetic … “It’s already written that today will be one to remember…”

I feel bad for Valerie in Central Ohio – how disappointing for her and her husband to have to sit through such an historical show when they really wanted to see Eric Clapton – alone – play Eric Clapton songs from top 40 radio. And for Jim from Logan, Ohio who wanted Steve to be toned down. I think Blind Faith didn’t work 40 years ago because Eric just sort of walked out of the band. And 40 years ago, Eric didn’t want to be the band leader, song writer, or lead vocalist. If this concert were simply a Blind Faith reunion, Steve would have done all of the singing. What we had the great good fortune to see on June 15th were two musicians of equal and unparalleled talent, each letting the other shine in ways that most of us never imagined in our wildest dreams. While Eric might have a slightly higher profile than Steve and that might cause some fans to think this should have been staged as a Clapton concert with “help” from Winwood, there is no way to separate the two talents and have this show be anything but 100 percent collaboration of the best rock and roll has to offer.

I just keep smiling when I think about the show – Little Wing was my favorite, followed very closely by every other song they played. Asking to pick a favorite is like asking a mother to pick a favorite child. Each is a favorite, often for different reasons.

Where’s Eric!
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