Venue: Rod Laver Arena
Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Doyle Bramhall II – guitar / vocals
Chris Stainton– keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Abe Laboriel, Jr. – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
Melbourne marked the final concert on Eric Clapton’s short "Winter" Tour which took place during February and March. This night’s set list was heavy on tracks from the 1970 album, Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs.
01. Tell The Truth
02. Key To The Highway
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. I Shot The Sheriff
05. Little Wing
06. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad
08. Travelin’ Alone
09. Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down And Out)
10. Motherless Child
11. Running On Faith
12. Motherless Children
13. Little Queen of Spades
14. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
15. Wonderful Tonight
18. Crossroads (encore)
Review by Mitchell Verdonk / Australia
What A concert! Eric took the Sydney show and turned it up to 12! It felt so great to be sitting even closer to the stage and 5 metres away from Slowhand himself!
As soon as 8pm hit, Eric walked out to a cheering croud and he couldn’t wait to start, playing chord after chord waiting for the rest of the band to get ready. When Doyle had his guitar on. Eric ripped through a fast paced "Tell The Truth". The solo for this song was phenomenal and started what was to be one of the best concerts in as many years.
Once the final bar was played, Eric slid into "Key To The Highway" which he put more effort into than he did with "Tell The Truth". The final solo from Eric in "Key" left people’s ears ringing and the croud crying for more. Then he cranked out "Hoochie Coochie Man" which was just a piece of art; the solo comparative only to the Clapton And Friends Benefit For Crossroads Antigua concert (June 1999).
Eric then greeted the crowd and broke out into a more relaxed version of Bob Marley’s "I Shot The Sheriff". But as soon as it came time for the solo, Eric went on for what seemed like hours playing a soaring solo. Eric then started the intro riff for "Little Wing" which again brought back memories for me of the Clapton And Friends Benefit concert, with Eric and Doyle both singing vocals. Doyle’s solo was outrageous and Eric came back fighting strong making sure he wasn’t upstaged by his offsider.
Then Eric started the riff for "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?" which gave him time to slow down his playing, this was well accepted by the crowd.
Eric sat down for a very intimate version of "Driftin’" which received a huge cheer. "Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out" caused a huge stir – the crowd went wild once Eric started the opening verse. "Motherless Children" and "Running On Faith" were also big crowd pleasers. "Motherless Children" again had Doyle and Eric battling like two teenagers.
The extended version of "Little Queen Of Spades" was again a highlight for keyboardist Chris Stainton. It was interesting that Eric used a wah-wah pedal for the first solo. Bassist Willie Weeks did not take a solo as in prior tours, but Doyle took his share of the spotlight.
"Everything’s Gonna Be Alright" was not really accepted by the crowd and not as much as Eric probably would have liked but he did do a good solo job on it. I think the crowd was waiting for him to start "Wonderful Tonight" and when he did, they went wild. Then, Eric counted in 1, 2, 1, 2, 3 and he shredded into "Layla" this time without making any mistakes like in Sydney. However the solo was short and lacking in compassion when compared to the Sydney performance. Again, the coda was fantastic with Chris and Doyle both making the song theirs.
And before the last notes of "Layla" were played, â€œCocaineâ€ was plucked out of thin air and made the crowd dance. Eric’s playing was more energetic then in Sydney and Chris did a fantastic job with the keyboard runs. Tonight, the crowd shouted out â€œCOCAINEâ€ at the end of the song which didn’t happen in Sydney.
Eric left the stage, but the saddest part was that people started to leave the arena after "Cocaine". When Eric returned to the stage, he looked rejuvenated and was able to play his heart out on the solos of "Crossroads" again using his wah-wah pedal. The final notes of "Crossroads" were fantastic. Then Eric put his guitar down, gave a group bow and left for the final time.
The overall sound for the night was just like Sydney with Eric constantly using his mid boost for those crunchier, thicker tones. The sounds his guitar achieved tonight deserve credit in themselves.
Once again Slowhand has shown how great he can play given the right mood for the occasion. I dare say that his performance in Melbourne, although weakening towards the end, was better than his performance in Sydney.
Review by Mark Norwood / Warragul, Victoria, Australia
Eric certainly left the best till last, this being the last concert of the series. Eric and the band were stunning. There’s nothing else to say.
Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the best I’ve ever seen him perform. He was chatting and laughing along with the whole band. Doyle hit a couple of duff notes which caused some merriment, even Eric hit an off note and again much happiness was shown by all.
All solos from Doyle, Chris and Eric were long and hot; the girls were great; Abe and Willie were superb. It was just a great night.
As you can tell, I’ve just been blown away. I have been watching Eric since The Yardbirds and have been to numerous EC concerts and this was the best of the best.
There were so many highlights but tonight’s rendition of "Little Queen of Spades" topped them all; it was just pure dynamite. It was a moment in time that could have gone on for ever – the interplay and energy shown by all was – I’m running out of superlatives here!!!
Thanks, Eric and please leave Melbourne till last next time, too. Come back soon!
Review by Richard Godfrey / Malvern East, Melbourne, Australia
My wife and I had the privilege of attending Eric’s Melbourne concert at the Rod Laver Arena. There was no support act which turned out to be an absolute blessing from God himself!
Eric and the Band waltzed onto the stage right at eight with no fuss and began the set with a lively, punchy version of "Tell The Truth" (from the Derek and Dominos days). The sound was excellent – not too loud and Eric’s clean playing shone through while all the time complimenting the vibe the band was giving off.
Highlights for us included a blistering version of "Motherless Children" (with Eric and Doyle getting the slide guitar duet spot on), "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad" (an extremely under-rated song from the D and D era – sometimes it is easy to forget what a marvelous rhythm guitar player Eric also is!), "Little Queen Of Spades" (sublime, superb blues playing from Eric) and my standout song for the night, "I Shot The Sheriff." This song was done in a similar arrangement to the Crossroads Benefit (1999), which allowed Eric to play some of the most beautiful, clean free form improvisation that you could ever hope to hear from a Stratocaster and you could see, he absolutely loved doing it!
There was a really nice acoustic set in the middle comprising of three or four numbers, including a solo version of Driftin’ Blues by Eric, which had the audience spellbound.
The night was also punctuated with other favorites including "Wonderful Tonight", "Layla", "Cocaine" and the time-honoured "Crossroads" as the encore.
I thought the packed house really appreciated the no-nonsense approach of often one song running into the next, for just on two hours.
Eric was in fine fettleand brought something with him I haven’t seen in a long time … his wah wah pedal. He really got the thing talking on the couple of songs that he used it on.
The Clapton Band must also be given a mention. They are all fine musicians in their own right and added much value to the performance. The girls gave great support on the backing vocals.
I understand Eric and his Band*, after a short break, are off to England and Ireland later in the year for a series of concerts. If you are only half a Clapton fan, and you miss these concerts, then you have no blood in your veins!
* Ed. Note. Eric will be touring with different line ups for his solo concerts in 2009. You can find out more by reading this news article: Eric Clapton 2009 Band Line Ups.
Review by Andrew Power / Berwick, Victoria, Australia
I had the pleasure of once again attending Eric’s gig at Rod Laver Arena. My first time seeing the great man live was two years ago. At the time I thought it was amazing, however this time I think he may have surpassed that!
Eric played with great energy all night, contradicting some recent reviews of his playing. I loved all the old "Dominos" songs and Eric’s band certainly did the songs justice. I thought Abe Laboriel was going to put holes in the drum kit at times! Loved the acoustic set, with "Driftin’" sending shivers down the spine. "Motherless Child" was high-energy all the way. I was again in awe at EC’s mastery, watching a legend at work plying his trade was special. A real privilege to be there once again and I can’t wait to read of his next time down under.