Venue: Royal Albert Hall
City: South Kensington, London
Country: United Kingdom
Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Andy Fairweather Low – guitar / vocals
Chris Stainton– keyboards
Tim Carmon – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Steve Gadd – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
The Arc Angels
Night 2 of 11 shows at the venue in 2009.
01. Going Down Slow
02. Anything For Your Love
03. Key To The Highway
04. Old Love
05. I Shot The Sheriff
07. Lay Down Sally
08. Not Dark Yet
09. Anytime For You
10. Somewhere Over The Rainbow
12. Little Queen of Spades
13. Before You Accuse Me
14. Wonderful Tonight
16. Crossroads (encore)
Review by Mike S / Somewhere around Bushy Park
Same stuff, different night. Eric phoned it in. You may think I’m being an old curmudgeon, but there were no fireworks. Let’s see what Tuesday brings.
It seems The Times is in agreement:
David Sinclair / The Times (18 May 2009)
While performers such as Seasick Steve and Joe Bonamassa regard an Albert Hall show as a pinnacle of achievement, Eric Clapton simply books himself in for a ten-night residency whenever it becomes convenient. His supreme artistry remains a given, as does his popularity among an older demographic and, three years since his last such run at this venue, there was a familiar sense of reassurance as Clapton, now aged 64, strolled on and struck up the relaxed, Latin-tinged groove of Going Down Slow.
It was an appropriate title with which to begin a show that, although perfectly executed and rapturously received, seemed to be fossilising in front of the eyes. Surrounded by a familiar band of faces – including the guitarist Andy Fairweather-Low, the drummer Steve Gadd, the bass player Willie Weeks and the keyboard players Chris Stainton and Tim Carmon – Clapton looked relaxed as he moved deftly on to the ponderous 1980s soft-rock riff of Anything for Your Love.
The nonchalance of his approach extended to the dress code. The immaculate Armani suits may be a thing of the past, but it seemed odd that he should have elected to perform at this most prestigious of venues in his gardening trousers. Perhaps his stage clothes had been mislaid in a last-minute rush to get to the gig. But if so, no hint of urgency, tension or drama of any sort was translated into the performance itself as the band drifted into the pub-rock blues of Key to the Highway and the polite reggae groove of I Shot the Sheriff.
Taking a seat – and picking up an acoustic guitar – Clapton embarked on the unplugged version of Layla and a gentle swing through Lay Down Sally, both of which lifted the spirits. However, a cover of Bob Dylan’s soporific ballad Not Dark Yet almost removed the will to live and was followed soon afterwards by a version of Somewhere over the Rainbow, during which Clapton simply seemed to morph at some point into Cliff Richard with a guitar.
From there, the only way was up. But even the old Cream song Badge sounded like a perfunctory cabaret turn. Robert Johnson’s Little Queen of Spades finally coaxed some of the old blues fire out of Clapton as he soloed extravagantly and masterfully, but the ensemble then reverted to bar-band mode for Bo Diddley’s Before You Accuse Me.
An emotionally detached cruise through Wonderful Tonight, Cocaine and an encore of Crossroads only served to underline the complacency of a show that was pitched so far inside the comfort zone it was virtually recumbent.
Review by Nadja T / Bonau, Switzerland
The second night saw EC in splendid form again. Going Down Slow, Old Love, I Shot the Sheriff, Layla, Not Dark Yet, Little Queen of Spades and Cocaine were the standouts of the night.
Coming on stage almost shyly, he certainly was not shy in the first song and showing it all. Anything for Your Love followed; Key to the Highway was good and gave everyone the opportunity to solo (EC, Chris, AFL, Tim) and then EC finishing it off. Old Love had a great intro by EC and the first solo was truly spectacular; Tim’s stuff started out great, but again when venturing into the high-pitched stuff he’s losing me (with most of the audience). Sheriff was another highlight with EC in the solo staying long in the lower frets before moving it to the frets above the 14th. It certainly sounded fresh.
Next came the sit-down section. When EC sat down he asked “what were we gonna do?” and launched into an acoustic Layla. Half way through he called for “organ, organ”, but since Tim is not on stage for the first 2 acoustic songs, EC immediately realized when glancing to Tim’s spot that there is no one to play so he called for “piano, piano” and Chris filled in. Funny and great save. EC also called AFL for a solo before finishing it. Lay Down Sally was as good as the concert on 16 May. Then came the sad but oh so beautiful Not Dark Yet – it makes you feel depressed but the performance is breathtaking. Anytime for You and Somewhere Over the Rainbow closed the sit-down section.
Badge had EC soloing perfectly. Little Queen of Spades showed what EC is all about with him again dominating the song with 3 solos performing them with eyes closed and Chris contributing one solo. Before You Accuse Me had everyone soloing with EC starting, then calling for the “organ”, AFL, Chris and EC (2) again. Wonderful Tonight was short. Cocaine was great with EC (2), AFL – great again beginning without any effect and then launching into the rest with great Wah-Wah, Tim and finally Chris who was fantastic. After Crossroads, EC and the band bowed to the audience and left the stage.
Review by Mark D / England
This was Clapton gig number 25 in almost as many years for me, so to say I’m a steadfast fan is an understatement. I do agree with The Times review 100% however, but in my opinion as to why the gig seemed a little lacklustre compared to the last time he played here is due to the fact his band, especially Andy Fairweather Low, had influenced his mundane set list. Three years ago he had Doyle Bramhall II, incredible musician in his own right, playing second guitar (the bloke should be filling the RAH himself). This enabled Eric to dust off some of the more technically complex Derek and the Dominos stuff etc and made it funky and up to date. On 17 May, on the other hand, we were subjected to the likes of “Lay down Sally”, which basically sent us back to the style of gigs he was doing in the 80s, only difference being it was fresh then. On the whole if you had never seen a Clapton gig before it was, as usual, a real treat, I guess we’ve been spoilt in recent years.
No taking away from Eric himself, he’s in great shape for 64 and on two or three occasions really played brilliantly with the aggression and passion he’s renowned for especially during “Old Love” and I happen to think Tim’s solo during that song was brilliant too.
The support act, The Arc Angels, with Doyle Bramhall II were superb, shame the sound wasn’t managed better as Charlie Sexton’s guitar was too low in the mix, but a real treat to see them perform after so many years. I just hope now that Doyle has started doing his own stuff again that Eric gets himself someone a little bit more capable than AFL on second guitar so we can start to hear / see the dynamic set list similar to 2006 at the RAH back again.
Review by Jackie / Suffolk
How can people say negative things about the most amazing concert? Eric was truely on form, his voice better that we had heard before! As for his playing and that of the keyboard player WOW!!! He looked very relaxed and seemed to be really enjoying himself! A great set list with quirky ways of delivering the old classics. I shot the Sheriff, etc Fantastic! Somewhere over The Rainbow Brilliant! Before You Accuse me … I didn’t want it to end! The 10 of us had a brilliant evening. Thanks Eric! Please don’t leave it 3 years
Review by Chris / England
A couple of good solos, “Old Love” and “I shot the sheriff” The sit down set just goes on for too long. Also, best leave “Somewhere over the Rainbow” to the likes of Eva Cassidy. “Layla” was bland and the Dylan song just doesn’t really go anywhere. Nice kick into “Badge” after sit down set probably the most bullsy song of the set. “Queen of Spades” again nice solo.
However, someone please have a word with Tim Carmon, or better still just remove him from the band. His solos go on for far too long of which add no value what so ever .Leave the keys to Chris Stainton.
All in all a very “average” gig.
Review by Ken Norris / US
Seeing the movie version of the Steve Winwood / Eric Clapton concert film at the Odeon Covent Garden on 18 May was splendid. It was a great concert film, and a terrific audience. This morning, I bought myself another ticket to another show on their upcoming U.S. tour.
This is the fourth time I’ve travelled to the RAH to see EC. Allow me to assign a numerical value to the quality of the shows on a scale of 1 – 10 during those residencies:
2009 6 (for the first two shows)
Let’s hope we see some changes in the nine shows still to come. Right now it’s too much Tim Carmon and a somewhat bland song selection. On the plus side (and there is always a plus side), I Shot the Sheriff, Not Dark Yet, Anytime for You, and Little Queen of Spades are all worth the price of admission.
Review by Matteo / Italy
First time for me in London, third concert of Eric in my life. Wonderful! I had no words, it has been to me a grateful experience to see Eric in the magnificent Royal Albert Hall. I appreciated very much the setlist and I found Eric in a brilliant shape. I loved very much the band, that was great! Chris Stainton is an incredible and awesome player, I think one of the best keyboard / piano player I’ve ever seen live, but I can say the whole band was superb!
After Going Down Slow, band started with a good rendition of Anything For Your Love, followed by the beautiful Key to the Highway; here comes one of the best songs of the evening, Old Love, very beautiful and with perfect soloing, as the reggae I Shot the Sheriff.
Then Eric started the acoustic set of the concert, with Layla (it seemed to be into the Unplugged concert!), Lay Down Sally and Dylan’s Not Dark Yet, very touching. I was waiting for listening Somewhere Over the Rainbow since the 2001 tour, that I missed, and Eric gave the audience this gift and after that they played one of my favourite of the evening, Badge, from Cream period. The second part of the show was very powerful, with Little Queen of Spades and the evergreens!
I found the stage sorroundings were good too. The stage has been very well lightened, and permitted to the audience to see very well what musicians were doing.
As a guitarist (not professional), I’d like to spend few words also for Eric’s gear too; he used his black strat for all the electric part of the show; I think he used for all the concert the same strat, even if Lee Dickson prepared also the light green strat too before the concert started; I’m very happy Eric decided to use also his hollow body Gibson (L5 CES?) for Somewhere over the Rainbow. For the acoustic set, I think he used his signature custom Martin D28, as usual, even if in 2006 he used also his Bellezza Nera signature Martin. If I’m not getting wrong, he used two tweed covered Twin 57 reissue Fender amps, something similar to a Fender Blues Junior with tremolo with the Gibson and his well known Leslie. As pedals, he used his amp switcher and a wah wah pedal.
All was great in my opinion and this was the best of the 3 concert I’ve seen since 1998. A very special mention goes to the incredible and fantastic band, as I’ve said!
This concert gave me back the regret of missing 2001 tour, that I consider one of his best of last years!
A special thanks goes to the very kind and gentle couple I met after the concert finished, my girlfriend and I talked with them for half an hour in the RAH and into the tube and I found them very nice and friendly, I hope to meet them again, maybe in Italy, as the man also talked Italian very well. Unfortunately I haven’t gave them my mail or contacts, maybe Wheres Eric could make us meet again!