Venue: Royal Albert Hall
Country: United Kingdom
Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Tim Carmon – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Steve Gadd – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
Andy Fairweather Low & The Low Riders
First of six solo shows at the Royal Albert Hall. EC would end his 2011 run at the venue with five shows with Steve Winwood from 26 May.
"Tearing Us Apart" replaced "Before You Accuse Me" representing the first change to the set list since this leg of the tour kicked off on 11 May.
01. Key To The Highway
02. Going Down Slow
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Old Love
05. I Shot The Sheriff
07. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
08. Still Got The Blues (Gary Moore)
09. Same Old Blues (JJ Cale)
10. When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful
13. Wonderful Tonight
14. Tearing Us Apart Before You Accuse Me
15. Little Queen Of Spades
Were you there? Send your review to [email protected]
Review by Richard Wigington
Eric was on incredible form last night even if the first night was like stepping out of a car after a long drive, there was a slight feeling of climate control from EC as he decompressed into what became a truly memorable evening as he takes over the Freehold of the Albert Hall for a week or so. He had the audience actually laughing during the Fuzz in “Badge” as he delayed turning off the pedal for a few seconds, it was a really nice touch. I am not terribly sure though how intentional it was but the audience did reward. Notable also, EC played the Daphne Blue Strat throughout the evening with no other Strat change. The “Beano” Les Paul did not make an appearance either, given the set list as the Merch on sale outside might have suggested but never the less his new Tweed Custom Shop Twin amplifiers did an incredible job keeping up the sonic experience. For “Multiple Night” fans this was a real treat also, EC’s never bores as the dialogue is kept to a sophisticated but chic minimum, a classic rock act at its Zenith.
Review by Nadja Teichert / Bonau, Switzerland
EC started his RAH residency ("looks like my front room") with a very strong performance. The set list remained almost the same with a stomping Tearing us Apart making a fantastic appearance and a surprising version of Hoochie Coochie. Highlights were the groovy start with Key to the Highway, Going Down Slow, followed by a very cool Hoochie Coochie and a stellar EC on Old Love and I shot the Sheriff. Other highlights were Gary Moore’s Still got the Blues, Badge, Tearing us apart, LQoS, Cocaine plus a great Crossroads as the encore. If EC is this good on his first night, I’m looking forward to the next few nights.While EC bowed alone to the audience, there was no bowing by while band at the end. Flowers thrown on stage at the end of the evening.
Review by Paul Cook
It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since Eric’s last run of shows at the Albert Hall, he hasn’t aged a bit and his music has just got better and better, he seems to be in fine form of late so there was a lot of excitement in the room when he took to the stage with his lovely band.
A really fresh sounding ‘Key to the highway’ was a great opener with Eric playing some really nice blues guitar, but for me it was the second number of the night ‘Goin’ down Slow’ that really saw things get going, the Gadd/Weeks Rhythm Section really hit the groove here and the master made the most of it.
A real surprise for the London crowd was the new arrangement of ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ which really swings, far superior than the usual arrangement with which we are all so very familiar. Eric’s vocals delivered beautifully, his lead breaks incendiary.
‘Old Love’ was next up, and it was one of those really special versions, the solo was classic Clapton and by now the crowd were in fine voice, this was becoming a really good show.
EC apologised for doing four consecutive numbers in the same key, as if anybody minded anyway?
As always ‘I Shot The Sheriff’ was a highlight, despite a few errors in the solo, Eric was playing like a demon, the crowd giving off a huge roar of satisfaction after the closing notes.
Out came the chair and we were into the acoustic sit down set, ‘Driftin’ was the first acoustic number, played nicely, but he really should be trying some different acoustic blues songs in place of ‘Driftin’, after all it’s hardly a crowd pleaser and has for me at least been well overplayed.
‘Nobody knows you when you’re down and out’ was as always very well executed, everybody clapping and singing along.
‘Still Got The Blues’, EC’s tribute to the late Gary Moore was the song I had been looking forward to the most after seeing footage on youtube from the previous UK shows, I was not disappointed, it is Eric’s ability to play covers and make them sound like his own that sets him apart. Here his vocals and lead guitar work were beautiful, Tim Carmon’s organ work is to die for on this number, a true highlight.
JJ Cale’s ‘Same old blues’ and ‘When somebody thinks you’re wonderful’ were both okay, but it was as if the audience were finding the sit down set a little drawn out, we’ll let Eric off though, he’s entitled to rest his feet mid show.
The acoustic set was wrapped up with ‘Layla’ which will always receive huge applause whenever he plays it, some (well actually most) prefer the traditional electric version but for tonight the crowd had to settle for singing along to the ‘Unplugged’ style arrangement.
Chairs away, back to business with a really great version of ‘Badge’ when EC paused prior to the bridge section, he let the feedback ring for a few seconds, much to the delight of the fans, the bridge came and then a truly stellar solo from Slowhand.
As always we were treated to Wonderful Tonight, just by way of a change and as always I was trying to stop myself falling asleep, thankfully it would seem that they have shortened WT for this tour, around the same length as the original studio version, one day they may drop it all together.
I did notice that he sang ‘Long Brown Hair’ in place of ‘Blonde’ perhaps Mrs. Clapton was in the room!
Next up a real surprise, ‘Tearing us apart’ with the fabulous Michelle John taking Tina Turner’s parts, that girl is one hell of a singer. It was really nice to hear this classic again.
‘Little Queen of Spades’ was very predictable, quick change blues in C, great solos all around, however it was Chris Stainton that really stole this one with one of the finest piano solos you could ever wish to hear.
‘Cocaine’ is another one of those ‘overplayed’ numbers for me, but in all fairness it still gets the crowd tapping there feet and EC delivered a more than adequate solo.
Wave to the crowd from EC and the band stroll off for a few minutes before returning to the stage and delivering a great ‘Crossroads’ where Clapton really seemed to be pushing himself, punishing the fretboard with ever bend and hammer on. No big bow from the band tonight, EC seemed to be eager to get away, but he did pause to accept flowers from a fan as he left the stage.
Lights up and another show over, in all a very solid opening night in London,the band is playing very well as a unit, EC seems to be in good spirits and there will be some magical moments to follow over the next couple of weeks. Roll my next visit to the Albert Hall at the weekend.
Special mention for Steve Gadd who was brilliant all night.
Review by Paul McGarney / Kent
My Clapton concert count is somewhere between 65 and 70 shows dating back to 1989. That said, tonight was my least enjoyable show with Eric ‘phoning it in’ with a spectacularly average performance. The current set-list is now woefully played to death and sadly tonight EC looked bored, he played on autopilot and gave nothing more than a steady professional performance. Clapton desperately needs Winwood next week at the RAH to press him and up his game because as a solo artist, EC couldn’t be any lazier than he has become over the past 5 years. The band looks and sounds middle of the road and 15 years ago, EC would’ve made changes to shake it up. Eric, I’m sorry but £75.00 to listen to Tim Carmon warble through solo after solo as you stand back and strum just isn’t on man. I’m calling it a day – thanks for the memories, at your best you were untouchable and that’s what I’ll remember.
Review by Dave Robins
Such a disappointing show. Very little from the last album; why no "Travelling Alone", "Diamonds Made From Rain" or "Run Back To Your Side"? Too many over familiar old songs e.g."Wonderful Tonight" (may I never hear this again!), "Badge" and "Cocaine". One too many keyboard players to whom Eric deferred too much when he should have been playing more himself. I had the feeling he was merely going through the motions; those of us who paid good prices for tickets deserve better than this. Not a patch on some of the great nights I have seen from him here in the past.