Venue: Royal Albert Hall
City: South Kensington, London
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
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
09. Same Old Blues
10. When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful
13. Wonderful Tonight
14. Tearing Us Apart
15. Little Queen Of Spades
Review by Paul Smith / Chesterfield
My wife and I have been lucky enough to see Eric a number of times over the last 15 years or so, and both of us think this was the best he’s been in all the times we’ve seen him. He had Chris Stainton and Tim Carmon on keyboards, both of whom had some great solos during the gig. Willie Weeks on bass and Steve Gadd on drums, with a couple of female backing vocalists. Eric let the guitar (and he only used two all night) do the talking, and he seemed animated, youthful and really lively in his playing. It was like he had turned back the years in some ways. Great classic set list, starting with “Key to the Highway”, and including a great version of “Old Love”, the acoustic “Layla”, and of course standards such as “Badge”, “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Little Queen of Spades”. It was a really great gig, with Andy Fairweather-Low providing the support and in a light-hearted mood, playing well too.
Review by Dave S. Cramlington
I went to the gig with my wife and daughter, Having seen Eric several times, this was our first time at RAH and this was probably the best yet.
Eric is on fire this tour. I’d read reviews befpre we went and several people seem to agree, Some say it is because of his cut-down band (no second guitar). I can’t say if that is the reason or not, but it was certainly one of the best shows we’ve seen him do. His performance of Old Love was absolutely superb, as was Tim Carmon’s solo during this song. The rest of the set list included hiis usual standards, but I was surprised that he didn’t include much from his latest album – only When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful. And the venue is fantastic! We hope that he does another set at RAH nect year, we’re already looking forward to it.
Review by Nigel Reeve / West Hallam
Having seen Eric and his many different line ups too many times to mention I was looking forward to this one as EC being the only guitar player and I was not disappointed. From the opening bars of Key to the Highway to the closing Crossroads it was very apparent that Eric was enjoying the challenge and playing sublimely both in rhythm and lead guitar and clearly enjoying his nights work. The new arrangement of Hoochie Coochie Man was a total surprise but a great new slant on an old favourite and Tearing Us Apart was top notch with spine tingling vocals from Michelle. For me the highlights were Hoochie Coochie Man, Still got the Blues, Same Old Blues, Badge and Tearing us Apart.
As for the band personally I am still not sure about Tim Carmon as accomplished a player he is his wailing style still grinds with me a bit. Chris Stainton must without doubt just be the perfect piano player for EC and his solos are exciting and 100% spot on. Willie Weeks is Willie Weeks, playing great solid bass in the background, so much so you sometimes had to look hard to find him hidden at the side of the drums. Whilst you cannot fault Steve Gadd and I guess we will not doubt see him again many more times with EC I just wish his drums could be a bit more on top during some of the set or perhaps bring back Abe Laboriel Jnr. for a tour, sorry if you disagree buts it’s just my opinion. Michelle and Sharon are now such an important part of the furniture it’s not possible to imagine a tour without them.
However EC’s concerts never fail to disappoint no matter who he chooses to play with, always something different in arrangements or set lists and always a few surprises waiting. Maybe this is the key to his touring longevity as I am sure the moment we become bored he will too and stop, but let’s all hope that’s a long way off. Big thanks to Eric and the band for a wonderful night, good luck with the rest of the tour and hope to see you all again very soon.
Review by Mark Allen / London
I’m nearing 40 and have been an Eric fan since the age of 13 when my dad said ” if you want to learn how to play guitar then watch Eric”, since then I have been hooked. When the tickets came on sale for his RAH outing I had to get as many as possible (as usual). The 17th of May was my first trip to which was a nice warm up. Eric seemed to be running on the 40% level – warming up I am sure for the Saturday hence enough said about the 17th
Having seen Eric now over 50 times I can literally say I was blown away with his Saturday night performance. If Eric would have been any hotter he would have self combust ! Where did this Eric come from – it was like a brand new EC that had just been unwrapped?? I can honestly say I have never seen him so charged and solo ready in any concert. Did someone tell him that he would never play again after Saturday night – it certainly seemed that way !
For those that ‘get’ his solos we are normally treated to those in 3-4 songs in a fab concert – enough to fill you up for the show Yet on Saturday I was full up and overflowing by the third song – it never stopped for the entire concert
I am so glad I have 2 more nights with Eric and Winwood to go this week – cant wait ! A serious pat on the back is due – it doesn’t get any better than a night like this ! Thank you Eric.
Review by Aron Neads / Cheltenham
I have been fortunate enough to see Eric on numerous occasions from the 80’s onwards and, having read some of the previous reviews, I went with a little trepidation. I am glad to say as soon as he walked out and started playing ‘key to the Highway’ all my doubts vanished. I don’t think I have ever seen him looking so relaxed on stage before and he was obviously really enjoying himself. The band
line up is excellent and the two keyboardists were not overused and really added to the songs. The fact that Eric is the only guitarist made him work hard (the sweat dripping off his head) and we all reaped the rewards. His playing was some of the best I have ever heard from him and all added up to a truly fantastic evening; I can’t wait to see him again.
Review by Christian Collinson
Following a brilliant day in the London sunshine, we approached the beautiful Royal Albert Hall for what I hoped was going to be an ‘in form’ Eric performance. Like everyone else, I have been following the reviews of previous shows so there was a slight feeling of trepidation as to what mood/form our man would be in. I have been to 40+ clapton shows since 1988, and I can say that this was up there with the best of them. It is interesting to see Eric’s style of playing change over the years (not to mention his now silky smooth vocals) and I love where he is at now. Here is a man performing as much for himself as the audience, and at 66 years old I think he’s earned the right to do just that.
Nice little opener from Andy, and then Eric strolled on, took his bow, greeted us with the usual ‘good evening’ and got straight into Key to the highway, followed by a solid Going Down Slow. Hoocie Coochie Man’s arrangement was just fantastic…showing just how good Eric is at tweeking songs to keep them fresh and in this case I think it really works.
Then came Old Love (always one of my favourite numbers) and our man unleashed the sort of guitar playing that we all know he is capable of, pushing himself with every note and bend of the strings. Spine tingling as ever and had me smiling all the way through. The audience responded accordingly and from therein we had a show on our hands. Sherrif was excellent with another passionate solo building at the end.
The solo set came for me 1 song too soon..as the playing/atmosphere was really starting to hot up, but once into it there were no complaints. A lovely simple arrangement of Driftin’, followed by the clap along Nobody knows you and a brilliant version of Still Got The Blues. One song from the new album, and then a really nice version of the acoustic Layla.
Seats away and out came Badge…one of the best numbers of the night, really brilliant with Eric (and the whole band) putting in a powerhouse performance. A short but sweet version of Wonderful Tonight let into Tearing Us Apart and we really were now cooking. Eric’s intro to Little queen of Spades was simply brilliant….just when I thought he was going to step towards the mic and start singing, he just kept tearing the notes out of the Strat. A masterpiece. Eric showing us why he is in a league of his own.
A solid Cocaine (excellent solo again) followed by a nice version of Crossroads capped off what was (for me) a fantastic evening with EC. Thanks to Eric and the band for a superb and memorable night. See you again soon!
Review by Andrew Cherenkov
Saturday night’s show was incredible! Eric was on top form, playing way better than anything I’d expected, with lots of outstanding solos.
But first things first. I must mention the support band, Andy Fairweather-Low and the Low Riders, who were brilliant as well. After hearing them I was very surprised that hardly any reviews mentioned them at all, seeing how amazing they were. Andy was in a great mood, and as if to make up for Eric’s lack of conversation with the crowd, he kept telling stories and cracking jokes between songs. Playing mostly an acoustic Martin (with Eric’s signature!) with a couple of songs on semi-acoustics, the four-man band (including Eric’s fromer bassist Dave Bronze) played a wide range of songs for 40 minutes, from Robert Johnson-style Chicago blues to rock and ballads. Andy in particular played some very good solos, and his singing was much better than as a backup to other artists. An example of the crazy things he got up to is when he threw a pick in the air in the middle of a solo after he’d finished with it and continued finger-picking (I had a pair of binoculars with me, so I could see things like that).
At 8:35, as Eric’s band came on, the crowd went absolutely mental. This was my first EC gig, so when he came out I became absolutely ecstatic, I still couldn’t believe that “God” was in the room. The first song was Key To The Highway, played by the whole band as opposed to the solo acoustic version from One More Car One More Rider, and although I would’ve preferred the latter, this version was outstanding as well, with Eric, Chris Stainton and Tim Carmon playing some very nice solos, setting the bar high for the night. This was followed by Goin’ Down Slow, which, like Hoochie Coochie Man after it, was a very different version from anything I’ve heard, and it was amazing to hear how much Eric can change the arrangements without losing the feel of the song.
The next song was Old Love, which brought the house down. Eric’s singing was on top form, with lots of emotion, which was then followed by an absolutely incredible solo. I can’t find the words to describe it; it was so amazing I could hardly believe what I was hearing. This was followed by a slightly peculiar and haunting solo by Tim Carmon on a synthesizer, which was still pretty good.
After reading the notes from the two previous gigs, I was dreading that Eric might miss out I Shot the Sheriff again. It’s one of my favourite songs, and one where he always does outstanding solos. And straight after a brilliant Old Love came those half-muted opening chords… to quote Eric, ‘I thought I’d died and gone to heaven’. The solo that followed was like the one off Old Love – through the roof, much better than anything I’d heard him play before. By the end of it my head-banging reached a point where my dad, sitting next to me, decided to warn me that my head might fly off if I kept on doing that.
Then came a brilliant acoustic set, which again, was far better than I’d expected. It opened with a great version of Driftin’, played just with the rhythm section, where Eric played some amazing blues solos. I was later surprised to read how many fans wish it had been replaced – to me it was an outstanding blues number. It was then followed by Nobody Knows You and a very soulful version of Still Got the Blues. Being used to Gary Moore’s electriс version, it was interesting to hear Eric’s acoustic adaptation of it, which apart from amazing singing, included a beautiful keyboard solo. JJ Cale’s Same Old Blues was quite playful and chilled out, and was then followed by When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful. Once again, it was interesting to hear such a different arrangement of it, without the brass section. Like the rest of the section, Eric played the acoustic Martin, unlike the semi-acoustic on the album. Tim and Chris played a very nice instrumental introduction, and Eric played a very impressive jazzy solo later on.
But the real highlight of the section was Layla. Played acoustically, but slightly faster than the original Unplugged version, it was brilliant throughout, from Eric’s haunting intro to the two outstanding keyboard solos, and finally, Eric’s own.
After picking up his daphne blue Strat again (which was the only electric guitar he played all night), the set continued with a very strong version of Badge, followed by a great Wonderful Tonight. Eric’s playing was very melodic, and it was great to hear him modify the intro riff from the very start. There was no keyboard solo, which kept the song from over-running, but Eric said everything in his own.
Then came a fantastic Tearing Us Apart, and although I would have preferred Before You Accuse Me instead, this version was very good. Eric’s solo in particular far was more interesting than usual for this song, and a special mention to Michelle John for amazing singing.
Little Queen of Spades… what can I say? The guys had the crowd raving by the end of it. Eric opened with a fantastic solo, which was followed by Chris bashing the piano, and stealing the show. The final solo was Tim’s, with incredible phrasing, culminating in a Billy Preston-like “riff”, lifting his hands up while holding a suspended note.
Then the crowd got up and rushed to the stage, just before a very strong Cocaine, which, among other things, featured Chris doing absolutely mental things on his keyboard. After going offstage for a couple of minutes, the band returned to play Crossroads, which was a superb encore, with many solos from all three to round off a great gig. In all, it was an amazing gig, way better than I could’ve hoped for; Eric playing stellar solos and raising the roof. I really hope I can see him again in this form, and to quote the man himself, ‘Thank you’!