Venue: Wachovia 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 Two of Eric Clapton’s and Steve Winwood’s 14-date U.S. Tour. There was a minor adjustment to the set list with Pearly Queen and Tell The Truth changing position.
01. Had To Cry Today
02. Low Down
03. After Midnight
04. Sleeping In The Ground
05. Presence Of The Lord
07. Well Alright
08. Tough Luck Blues
09. Pearly Queen
10. Tell The Truth
11. No Face, No Name, No Number
12. Forever Man
13. Georgia On My Mind
15. Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down And Out)
17. Can’t Find My Way Home
18. Split Decision
19. Little Wing
20. Voodoo Chile
22. Dear Mr. Fantasy (encore)
Review by Mike Morrone / Valley Forge PA
Steve Winwood knew something. In the liner notes included with the Steve Winwood boxed set which was released in 1988, he made the following observation: "…Blind Faith as a direct result of the popularity of both Cream and Traffic, found themselves headlining Madison Square Garden, supporting one six song album. Still today, more than 20 years after their untimely demise, Winwood remains wistful about what might have been. ‘Eric and I were searching to a degree and Blind Faith had been a vehicle which we could create something that had its own identity’."
Winwood’s wistful yearnings turned to reality at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2007 when he reunited with Eric Clapton on stage. The result has produced a phenomenal collaboration of recorded material and performance. I was lucky enough to be sitting on the floor for the Steve Winwood – Eric Clapton concert in Philadelphia, at the Wachovia Center.
The band took the stage at 8:17 PM. Clapton and Winwood came out appearing to be excited about what was about to take place. Both were comfortably attired. Eric hoisted his signature black Fender Stratocaster and Steve hoisted a light green version of the same instrument. That is where the study in history and virtuosity began.
They kicked off the concert with "Had to Cry Today". Surprisingly, for a venue like the Wachovia, the sound was loud, but extremely clear. As always, Eric Clapton did not say much except to acknowledge the thunderous applause with "Thank you".
At one point, as Steve Winwood sat down at the Hammond B3, he remarked how glad he was being here performing with Eric Clapton. The crowd responded with a thunderous standing ovation.
A little further on in the show something happened that I didnâ€™t think was possible, Eric Clapton messed up! The band moved into ‘Forever Man’. They began by performing the song like they do on the DVD (Live from MSG). But as they arrived at the second verse, Eric Clapton began singing the part that was to be performed by Steve Winwood. It sounded a little strange and immediately Eric knew what he had done. He and Winwood, as well as everyone on the stage started to laugh, as they immediately returned to the song they way it was supposed to be performed. The crowd loved it!
Then they rearranged the stage and performed the sit down set. It began by Steve sitting at the Hammond B3 and performing "Georgia on my Mind". Then EC performed Driftin’ Blues. Next they moved to "Down and Out" which led to the highlight of the night. Eric and Steve performed an acoustic version of "Layla". The audience roared and applauded they song as they swayed through the entire performance.
Here is an interesting development. As I am sitting here writing this review, the concert received news coverage. The local NBC affiliate is doing a story on the concert as I am writing. They are showing video of Eric and Steve from early on in the concert. The commentator is referring to the performance as "rare and historic".
The performance moved to "Canâ€™t Find my Way Home", "Split Decision" and "Little Wing". The performance of "Voodoo Chile" was next. It featured lengthy solos by both Winwood and Clapton. I don’t think I have ever heard a better performance of this song.
I knew the end was near when "Cocaine" began. The version was longer than usual featuring solo work by Steve, Eric and pianist, Chris Stainton. Stainton has become a fixture at Eric Clapton performances as he provides a hand and glove fit to the music of Eric Clapton. At the song’s conclusion, EC, Steve and band waved to the packed house and walked off the stage. This led to an impassioned round of thunderous applause, lighters and cell phone lights as the audience communicated their strong desire for an encore.
About four minutes later, the artists obliged, returning to the stage to punctuate their performance with "Dear Mr. Fantasy", the Traffic mega hit. They locked arms and bowed to the audience as a raucous standing ovation was showered upon them.
The local NBC affiliate described the concert as historic and rare. I agree with this assessment and hope that these performances will transition from rarity to commonplace. Thank you, Eric, Steve and band for an extremely memorable night.
Review by Brad Kelly / North Brunswick NJ
I was fortunate to have attended the explosive second night of the 2008 Clapton and Winwood gig at MSG. So when I received a pair of tickets for the second night of the 2009 pairing as a birthday gift last month, I was both elated and a bit skeptical. How could these two top or even come close to what I heard last year? Well, maybe it is Philadelphia or maybe it is the fact these two performers are getting tighter together the more they play. Either way, this show was, except for a few songs, even better than what I heard last year.
Clapton was on fire as usual and his playing on Little Wing was incredible. I could tell it was going to be a great show when they came out and performed a much tighter and more spirited version of Had to Cry Today than the MSG version I saw. It just got better from there. The crowd was clearly appreciative of the level of playing from both performers and the entire band and I think both Eric and Steve fed off of that energy.
I have to say I always prefer an EC show at Wachovia Center over one at MSG. The sound is better, the crowd is louder and Eric plays better as a result. The highlight for me last night was Driftin. Eric played it slow and long on his acoustic and laid down some incredible licks. He also sprayed some great guitar throughout Sleeping in the Ground, which was clearly better than the version last year.
The one song that did not live up to the version I saw last year, although it was a great version, was Voodoo Chile. The version I saw last year was probably the greatest single live rock and roll performance I have ever seen from anyone. The version I saw last night did not pack the down and dirty punch of the previous performance and while the guitar work of Clapton was ridiculously good, it fell a few solos short of that second night at MSG.
I liked the dropping of Them Changes from the set list in favor of the acoustic Layla and Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out. While Them Changes was a good song, substituting backing horns with a synthesizer ultimately made it cheesy.
The two female backup singers were another welcome change to the lineup by filling in some songs with great harmonies. Clapton and Winwood are putting on an amazing show and it is only getting better as the tour moves along. Go see them.
Review by Byron Reimus
It just doesn’t get much better than this – to see and hear a group of superb musicians get it on with minimal fanfare, fuss and gab. Clapton and Winwood clearly relish being on stage together and while we have heard (and like) them in somewhat smaller venues, the sound / lighting / acoustics at Wachovia were pretty darn good. On a scale of one to ten, this was a nine and a half performance.
Review by Phil Straus / Philadelphia PA
Bring earplugs. I was very unimpressed with the sound quality. I was sitting next to the sound board and spent way too much time watching the high registers go "red," ie., out of scale and clipped. The sound should have been best exactly where I was sitting and it was painfully loud and distorted.
Both Clapton and Winwood are great musicians, but the loud rock music has lost its appeal for me. My favorite part was when they both played acoustic guitar. Both still have voices. That’s good. There was too much noise and distortion to understand most of the words, even words to songs that I’ve listened to for 40 years. There were way too many loud high notes that hurt my ears. I kept waiting to be "transported" and I kept drifting off. I kept waiting for the enveloping thrill of the 2005 Cream concerts, but never got it. I left before intermission.
[Ed. note: The Clapton / Winwood concerts are performed without an intermission / interval. There is no break in the music from lights down to lights up, other than a short break between the main set and encore.]
Review by Mark Letham / Levittown PA
I attended the concert at the Wachovia Center and it started at 8:17 p.m. (slightly later than the 8:00 p.m. advertised start time). The music was great throughout the concert and I was especially pleased with the "acoustic" set between Eric and Steve (after Steve’s wonderful rendition of Georgia On My Mind). Eric playing Driftin’, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Layla and Can’t Find My Way Home. Both Eric and Steve were playing the Martin 000-28M Eric Clapton Sunburst Limited Edition Edition. Eric gave Steve one with Steve’s signature between the 19th and 20th frets. The version of Can’t Find My way Home was awesome, and the rest of the set was great. My wife and I enjoyed the show. The last time I saw Eric in concert was 1990 in Syracuse, New York and the last time (and only time I saw) Steve was with Traffic supporting the Far From Home album in Canandaigua, New York.
Review by Andrew Foster / Berlin NJ
This, for me, was the second time I’ve ever seen Clapton perform and the first time I’ve seen Clapton / Winwood together. I saw the May 22, 2008 show in Holmdel, NJ and thought that was a great show, but last nights show was even better! I had section 1, row 7 seating so I had a perfect view of the action.
They kicked off the night sharing guitar duties and starting with a Blind Faith tune "Had to Cry Today" which was a perfect song to set the tone for the evening. Then they went right into "Low Down Blues" followed by "After Midnight" which obviously got the crowd really pumped up. After that, some more Blind Faith with Steve Winwood really tearing it up on the B3.
Then after a rocking rendition of the Derek and the Dominos song "Tell the Truth", which was one of many highlights of the night for me; they went into the Traffic song "No Face, No Name, No Number". Then a rare thing happened during "Forever Man", Clapton made a mistake! It was a vocal mishap but it was rare for sure. Then Steve Winwood sat down to play a breathtaking version of "Georgia on My Mind". It almost brought me to tears. Then the guys again shared guitar duties for an acoustic set that started with "Driftin". They played an acoustic version of "Layla" which kinda bummed me out. But then they played "Can’t Find My Way Home" that made up for that. Then the last few songs of the night were a showcase of how great both of these guys play guitar. "Voodoo Chile" had my jaw on the floor. Clapton killed it. In a good way of course! Then they ended the set with "Cocaine" and came out for an encore with the Traffic song "Dear Mr. Fantasy".
The night didn’t end there for me though. Clapton’s guitar tech, Lee, took Eric’s pick and threw it to me! When I looked at the pick I was a little confused by what it said on it. On one side it says "Crank It Up Cocker" and on the other it said "Give It Some Turbo Bob!". Anyway, thank you Lee!
Review by Jon C. Dupee
I caught the first 2 shows on the tour at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey (a.k.a. Izod Center) and the Wachovia Center in Philly.
For the opening night show in New Jersey, I had seats on the floor 20 rows back on Clapton’s side in Section 7. This should have been a sweet sounding spot to observe the show. The sound for me was very disappointing and was nothing like what I recalled from the MSG shows I saw last year. It was very muddy with little discernible separation of the instruments. The vocals were flat. The show definitely had its high points — Dear Mr Fantasy, Little Wing and Voodoo Chile. However, it lacked the seamless quality of the MSG shows and I was disappointed in the performance overall. It seemed like they were mailing it in for an unenthusiastic suburban New Jersey audience that was more concerned with beating the traffic out of the Arena than inspring the band to musical heights. No one stood during the performance which is a constant problem with Clapton’s audiences. It’s a rock concert folks, you are not watching a movie!!! Get up and move your bodies to this amazing music.
Philly was a totally different concert both in the quality of the performance and the enthusiasm of the audience. I scored 2 seats in Section 124 Row 9, which is the side stage section closest to Winwood. The sound was amazing in the Wachovia Center. The clarity of the sound made it possible to discern subtleties in the music that were simply lost in the muddy sound of the opening night show. The audience was enthusiastic from the get go and stood for the entire performance down on the floor. Philly has always been a great town for rock concerts and this held true even for Clapton’s audience.
In a nutshell the magic of the MSG shows was evident in Philly; at the Meadowlands it was not.
[Ed. note: Over the course of the past several days, a number of fans have commented on the generally poor acoustics of the Izod Center; some have noted it has been an issue since it opened in 1980.]
Review by Debbie Arndt
I was at the June 12 Philadelphia show at the Wachovia Center. Although I have always been an Eric Clapton fan, I must say that this performance, without a doubt, cements his place as, in my opinion, the greatest guitarist ever. I was especially in awe of how effortlessly it was to him: so fluid, so hard driving, yet graceful.
I am not that familiar with a lot of his blues, but that will change. Although I did not recognize some of the songs, I sat there mesmerized as to how wonderful it was to hear him play them.
Plain and simple, this was the best concert I have ever attended!
Review by George Daly / Newtown Square PA
I have seen Eric Clapton live in concert approximately 12 times including the Cream concert at Madison Square Garden. Sadly, I cannot say that all were good performances. For some, he just went through the motions. This concert was not most of those. Eric was dead on, into it and clearly having fun.
The intro to After Midnight was great. It was not a mirror copy of the studio version nor the MSG version released on CD. It was different, longer and incredibly interesting. Likewise, the accoustic version of Layla had a much different introduction. Eric took the solo from the Unplugged album and made it the introduction and then created a whole new solo in the middle – well done. Presence Of The Lord was better than any recorded version I have ever heard. It was tight and intense.
Little Wing just blew the roof off the building. Voodoo Chile was great too, but the performance of Little Wing was a hard act to follow. The regular set (pre-encore) ended with a generous version of Cocaine. Everyone had the opportunity to run with the ball on this song. Finally, the encore. It was great. I saw Steve do this song last year when he came into Philly with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Because it was not a surprise, I was not as blown away as the others in my group.
The "flub", mentioned in the whereseric.com news entry, was handled so well by both performers. Based on the flow of the show and the handoffs from previous songs, the entire Wachovia Center expected Steve to come in on that verse, however, Eric kept going and, then chuckling, stepped back from the microphone and had a good laugh. It just showed you how much he was into the music.
Other highlights of the evening were Tough Luck Blues and Can’t Find My Way Back Home. In the car on the way home, all of us remarked about how for such a large part of the show Eric was the only guitar, yet it sounded full and complete as if others were playing with him on stage. He was absolutely that good.