Venue: Cardiff International Arena
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
Venue also known as Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
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. Before You Accuse Me
15. Little Queen Of Spades
Review by Ieuan Rees / Swansea
Andy Fairweather Low told us that he had been advised to “just have fun” before coming on stage – and that is just what they did. An excellent support set of 40 minutes with some great guitar work from Andy. He gave us a brief timeline of his playing career, explaining why it had taken him 45 years to reach this stage in his home town.
Eric strode on stage with his signature daphne blue Fender Stratocaster and got straight into Key To The Highway. Having attended around 40 of Eric’s live performances you get a feeling for how Eric’s evening is going from the first couple of bars of the opening number. Eric appeared very relaxed and in good spirits. Playing brilliant solos and fills through the first few numbers. Old Love was a real highlight – Eric’s singing on this song was much more laid back than in the past. For me his singing is now really peerless and matches the intensity and brilliance of the solos singing from the guitar. A funky I Shot The Sheriff with blinding solo led into the sit down acoustic set.
A fantastic acoustic reading of Gary Moore’s Still Got The Blues was a wonderful tribute to the late guitarist. Acoustic Layla led back into the land of electrification and a stellar version of Badge. Eric really letting the feedback from his amp boom through the hall in the stops. Wonderful Tonight and Before You Accuse Me led us into another blues Little Queen of Spades with fantastic solos from the Chris Stainton and Chris Kharmon. Cocaine featured some brilliant solos from Eric and an epic workout from Chris Stainton. Then band left the stage briefly to return for Crossroads.
A really great concert – certainly as good as any I can remember. Unusually I noticed one or two very minor slips from Eric which must surely be a function of his age. Whilst his guitar playing may have lost a few degrees from it’s incendiary greatest his confidence in his singing voice more than compensated.
Review by Pete Gaskell
It was good to see EC playing here outside his usual RAH residency. In contrast to the opening support of besuited Andy Fairweather Low who gave a warm and personable performance that had to overcome mistuning and song sequencing mishaps, Eric in his workaday casuals was understated, flawless and professional. There was no banter with the audience but we’ve learned to expect this. The arrangements of Crossroads, Layla and I Shot the Sheriff in particular showed how well he still adapts songs to keep them fresh and interesting. He gave good space to his keyboard soloists who took their opportunities fulsomely. Praise too for the big screen camera work on Eric’s right hand picking.
The 2 hour set was predominantly blues covers but having produced such a diversity of song styles over forty years, I wish the set could have extended by half an hour at least (Springsteen is not much younger but puts in 3 hours of high energy performance). There was no White Room or River of Tears for example and I suppose he was keeping his Blind Faith material back for RAH with Steve Winwood. Anyone going to this, please post a review. I’d love to be there.
Review by Darryl Lane
The Motorpoint in Cardiff is a convenient venue for a concert and rather more intimate than other large city arenas. Having spent a weekend break in the city it was pleasant to have a short walk from the hotel to go and see Eric.
Andy Fairweather-Low and The Low Riders were a surprisingly entertaining support act. I am guilty of not appreciating Andy’s efforts when he was Eric’s second guitarist in the band. Not since the days of George Terry has Eric allowed any support guitarist to dip in and out of shared leads (listen to George and Eric trade licks on Little Wing for example). Eric has since opted for everyone taking a turn which can be predictable and sometimes dull.
The Low Riders set was a joyous mix of country, blues, rock and pop with Andy playing excellent guitar, telling funny anecdotes and generally displaying good stage banter that the audience really appreciated. (Eric were you watching and taking note?) I for one will watch this band again when the chance arises. Former Eric bassist Dave Bronze was part of the group too with Dave Pentilove on sax and Paul Beavis on drums. A good act.
Eric was on at 8.30pm, catching folk still at the bar. The set remained as it has thus far. His playing is as ever mysteriously outstanding, how does he continue to do it after such a long time? And his voice is impressive too. With no second guitarist this time, Eric is doing all the hard work, singing, rhythm and lead all played with an intensity that is remarkable, seemingly unfazed with those that got up for a fresh pint while he was playing Layla during the acoustic section.
There is another acoustic album waiting to be made surely. With a moving tribute to Gary Moore this year, and Dylan’s Not Dark Yet covered so beautifully a couple of years ago. And there is certainly a good electric album to appear. Why on earth does Eric insist on playing so little electric lead guitar on his studio albums. He is two entirely different beasts. In the studio Clapton hides behind far too many other performers (he is more up front as a guest on Robbie Robertson’s latest CD than on his own). Yet in concert at Cardiff he was on blistering form. The crowd loved it, they clapped and cheered, as Eric attacked Old Love, Sheriff and Goin’ Down Slow with the energy and ?re of a man forty years younger.
With one too many keyboard players on stage, there were too many keyboard solos. Chris Stainton is always excellent. Tim Carmon’s style is an acquired taste, but Eric indulges them both a little too much. Little Queen of Spades at times felt interminable. However, the show was a cracker with a good mix of songs, though he kept me guessing. The chords of Have You Ever Loved a Woman, morphed into the lyrics of Crossroads for the encore. As previously noted, the band did not link for a bow to acknowledge a very happy audience, which was a shame. If you can get tickets, go and see a Master work his magic.
Review by Barbara M. / North Devon
Last night’s show in Cardiff was my 82nd Eric Clapton concert and it was a privilege to be there. I enjoyed Andy Fairweather-Low’s set, which was a real mixture of eras and music styles, but I was nervous as Eric walked on stage – his energy level seemed low and I was worried that he might put in a ‘going through the motions’ performance, even though when he turns in one of those it’s still worth being there because Eric’s ‘going through the motions’ is still better than most other musicians out there but how wrong could I be? From the first note of Key to the Highway to the last note of Crossroads Eric seemed inspired and put in a phenomenal performance. His solo during Old Love was up there with the best I have heard him play since my first concert in 1990 and the sit down set was a joy – I particularly liked the Gary Moore and JJ Cale numbers. Now, I just can’t wait for Friday night at the Royal Albert Hall – like a fine wine Eric just seems to keep on improving with age!
Review by Niall McDonald / Swindon
This was a great show, but the highlight by far was Eric’s version of Still Got The Blues. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to turn something so well known for its soaring, electric solos into such a beautiful acoustic ballad. I was / am a huge fan of Gary Moore and his passing was such a shock. I know from interviews Gary held an enormous admiration for Eric and took great inspiration from him. For one of your heroes to take the time in his set to play your greatest blues song must be the ultimate tribute. I don’t mind admitting when EC grabbed the pick and started picking the solo-riff I had trouble holding back the tears. Sort of moment you remember forever.
Another little reminder of Gary came with the opening act, Nick Pentelow, a former member of the Midnight Blues Band from early 90s joined Andy Fairweather-Low’s Low Riders on saxophone. They were excellent openers – nice to Andy leading his own band, rather than sideman.