Venue: Verizon Center
Country: United States
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
Night 3 of the 14-date U.S. tour. Tell The Truth was dropped, Crossroads was added and the set list was re-arranged.
01. Had To Cry Today
02. Low Down
03. After Midnight
04. Presence of The Lord
05. Sleeping in the Ground
07. Well Alright
08. Tough Luck Blues
09. Pearly Queen
10. No Face, No Name, No Number
11. Forever Man
12. Little Wing
13. Georgia On My Mind
15. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
17. Can’t Find My Way Home
19. Voodoo Chile
21. Dear Mr. Fantasy (encore)
Review by Michael Bogart / Washington D.C.
Last night’s Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood show at the Verizon Center was incredible. Washington D.C. was the third stop of their 14-date U.S. tour and these rock legends did not disappoint. While their set lists from this tour’s shows in New Jersey and Philly were not delineated from at Verizon, with songs like these, you wouldn’t want any change of pace. EC and Winwood provided the rock ambience, blues riffs and classic guitar work signature of the music that’s led them both to the echelons of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The duo and their remarkable supporting band members, including Chris Stainton on keyboards, Willie Weeks on bass and Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums, ripped in to Blind Faith favorite ‘Had To Cry Today’ to get the night started. The blues rocker ‘Low Down’ followed before the boys ripped in to the good-ol feeling of ‘After Midnight’.
Clapton really wailed on ‘Blackie’ before they slipped into a piano and keyboard infused ‘Presence of The Lord’ and ‘Sleeping in the Ground’. The blues were dug out here well with classics like the Blind Faith-era ‘Well Alright’, ‘Tough Luck Blues’ and the foot-stomping ‘Pearly Queen’. These are what make Clapton so well-loved for so long: not necessarily the popular rockers that many know, but the soulful, gut-wrenching blues drenched beats. Stainton really highlighted ‘Pearly Queen’ with his excellent and precise keywork.
An outstandingly-played ‘Little Wing’ capped this run of blues-infusion. Parts of this song are eerily similar to the Grateful Dead’s ‘Terrapin Station’, a recognition that was before this concert unknown [to me]. Winwood sat down to a beautifully played ‘Georgia On My Mind’ and its at this point that you become fully aware how similar his voice really is to Clapton’s. An acoustic ‘Driftin’ played before a tight and personal favorite ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out’ as many slapped their palms together with the beat. A crowd favorite ‘Layla’ punched the concert ‘ticket of success’ as many finally rose to their feet in appreciation.
An outstanding trio of songs closed out the evening’s set: the ever-rocking ‘Crossroads’ had a few moving their feet; ‘Voodoo Chile’ displayed some serious improv on the guitar and really highlighted how well these boys can feed off each other; Hendrix would be proud and watching the big screens on either side of the stage left a few jaws on the floor as the finger picking details were amazing.
Finally, a ripping ‘Cocaine’ closed the set to an on-your-feet audience appreciative of everything Clapton and Winwood left on the stage. Whistles and ‘woots’ filled the Verizon Center reeling for more. Winwood highlighted the night with his vocals on show encore ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’, a true gem of a rock song from the late 60’s Traffic repertoire. There was likely no better way to wind up a night of grade A musicianship full of classics songs and top notch performers.
Review by Nicholas Aleshin / Ellicott City MD
This was a GREAT show! It started off like last year’s at Madison Square Garden (MSG). I think the girl singers added on some tunes, but didn’t really detract. Some arrangements changed, and there were some different songs. I’d divide the show into three distinct sections:
1. The Good Stuff (Songs1 – 12) – This is where the band played their best and for those who wanted to hear Clapton play guitar. The band’s take on "Glad," a Winwood instrumental was solid, improvisational music that has evolved since last year at MSG, with Clapton taking a more active role in the foreground with his guitar. This section of the concert was more than half the set list.
The highlight for me was the show’s blues tune: "Tough Luck Blues," the B-side to Big Maceo’s 1941 single, "Worried Life Blues." On this one, Clapton really outdid himself: lots of beatiful, flowing blues guitar. It started like "Have You Ever Loved A Woman." Twice during the song, it came to a stop, like BB King’s "How Blue Can You Get" ("I took you out for dinner, you said ‘Thanks for the snack.’ I gave you seven children, and now you wanna give them back!"), although the words are entirely different. The crowd went wild and were appreciative of EC’s playing. However, this was one of those blues solos to die for! It’s what I am looking for in every Clapton show, and often do NOT hear. But when EC and SW play together, the quality of EC’s guitar playing improves immeasurably: it was stupendous! I think this one was even better than "Double Trouble" at MSG last year. I sure hope someone recorded it, because it’s one of the best Clapton solos I’ve heard in decades: simply magical!
Other guitar highlights were "After Midnight" and "Little Wing." Although I never cared for the song "After Midnight," Clapton has turned it into a guitar exploratory, which I truly enjoy. Folks, several years back, I opined that I’d like to see Clapton concentrate a bit more on his guitar playing, but was told that I was stuck in the past. Not so! At both last year’s EC and SW concerts in NY, and this show, EC is doing exactly what I requested. To me, this is what it’s all about.
2. The Sit-Down (Songs 13 – 17) – This section served as sort of an intermission for the band, as Winwood took a solo "Georgia On My Mind," accompanying himself on Hammond B3 organ. Next, Clapton played acoustic guitar. Although the band joined in, they did so highlighting the soft, acoustic sounds. And Steve Winwood, also on acoustic guitar, sat down with Clapton as they played a wonderful version of "Can’t Find My Way Home," that was both intricate and mellow, as on the "Blind Faith" album. This was really beautiful. And I really liked the rollicking version of "Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out," as did the audience.
3. The Crowd Pleasers (Songs 18 – 21) – The last three songs plus encore were the crowd pleasers. Fortunately, there was no "Wonderful Tonight," as the crowd went nuts and stood for this last quarter. "Crossroads" was performed in the "Willy And The Hand Jive" style, and "Voodoo Chile" had a different feel from the version done last year at MSG, but was still very good. "Cocaine" has never been a favorite of mine, but most people stood and enjoyed. With the earlier "Tough Luck Blues," I can easily handle listening to "Cocaine."
The Bad – For some strange reason, there were bright lights BEHIND the band, and they often shined into the eyes of the audience. Although it got a bit better as the show went on, this really sucked. If anyone from the show is reading this, "Stop it NOW, as the crowd really dislikes it. It’s a turn-off." The crowd on the floor may not have witnessed this, as the lights were probably too low up front. But in the stands, it was literally blinding, especially for the first couple of songs. Later on, the lights were colored, and not quite as bright. I wonder what numbskull came up with this asinine idea.
I simply love Clapton’s guitar playing — especially his blues guitar improvisations — when he plays like this. And this isn’t any trip down Memory Lane; it’s now! Thank you, Eric. Keep up the great work! And to Steve Winwood, I don’t know what you do, but when he plays guitar with you, Eric is a man possessed. Keep doing what you do. A friend mentioned that Clapton and Winwood should drop their solo efforts and link together permanently in this 5-piece band. I second that motion!
This was one for the memory books, a really great concert. I’ve always liked Steve Winwood and still have several Spencer Davis Group LPs. Getting to see and hear EC and SW together is a real treat. The band is exceptional, all true professionals. Although I prefer Ian Thomas on drums, I guess he couldn’t accommodate this tour, and Abe Laboriel, Jr. — his father a famous jazz bassist — did a wonderful job. The female singers didn’t intrude, as I’d been apprehensive that they might ruin a good thing. And as his solo spot began, Winwood said, "We hope you’re having a great time, as we are." I think he really meant it, as it was a great concert that we truly enjoyed.