Venue: Manchester Arena
Country: United Kingdom
Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Doyle Bramhall II – guitar, backing vocals
Greg Leisz – pedal steel guitar
Chris Stainton – piano, keyboards
Paul Carrack – organ, keyboards, vocals
Willie Weeks – bass
Steve Jordan – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
Gary Clark, Jr.
01. Hello Old Friend
02. My Fathers Eyes
03. Tell The Truth
04. Black Cat Bone
05. Gotta Get Over
06. Come Rain Or Come Shine (EC & Paul Carrack – vocals)
07. Got To Get Better In A Little While
09. Driftin’ Blues
10. Goodnight Irene
11. It Ain’t Easy (Paul Carrack – vocals)
13. Tears In Heaven
14. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
15. Lay Down Sally
16. Blues Power
17. Love In Vain
19. Little Queen Of Spades
21. Sunshine Of Your Love (with Peter Kay)
22. High Time We Went (EC & Paul Carrack – vocals)
Review by Jack Aspinall
Well what can I say other than absolutely amazing, from the off you could feel the passion of both Eric and his wonderfully talented band. The set list was a great journey through Eric’s career with his more commercial songs interspersed with songs that he hasn’t played for years and songs that have inspired him from a young age.
For me I always find it hard to select the highlights of an E.C show as they are always brilliant but “Got To Get Better In A Little While, Blues Power, Black Cat Bone, Crossroads and Little Queen Of Spades were mind blowing but then again the entire performance was. The band were incredible and all worked together with such a professional attitude and everyone involved should be immensely proud.
A special mention must be given to the musically diverse talents of Mr Peter Kay who helped lead Eric & the band through “Sunshine Of Your Love” to the cheers and laughter of the entire crowd. Well done Peter!
Review by Shaun B
I’ve seen EC over 40 times since 1986 and for the past few years, at the RAH and other venues, I have thought Eric’s performances were professional and polished but that maye he wasn’t pushing himself in his playing. Well let me reassure all fans, last night Eric played out of his skin. The band was SO tight, the other soloists were brilliant (particularly Chris Stainton in Little Queen of Spades), but Eric was on another plane. His solo’s were soaring, raw and full of passion. You could see he was lost in his playing and when he’s like that, it reaches your soul, it really does.
Little Queen was a highlight for me, as was got to get better in a little while and Crossroads. The 2 and a bit hours flew by sadly but paying like this Eric surely must reconsider retiring from live playing. An annual residency at the MEN would be good, with Peter Kay as the warm up!
Review by Peter Smith
Great performance by Eric Clapton last night at Manchester Arena. The set was a mix of classics from throughout his career, featuring electric and acoustic sets and some great guitar work. I arrived at the Arena just after 7.30pm and Gary Clark Jr was on stage. Not wanting to disturb people, I watched some of his set from the back of the massive arena. His style was similar to Clapton and he delivered a pretty good set of blues songs to a full arena. His set was short and after a quick break Clapton was on stage just after 8.30pm. The short break gave me a chance to slip into my seat. I’d bought a ticket a couple of days before the show when some new tickets were released and managed to score a spot in the front middle block, ten rows from the stage. Its some years since I’ve been so close to the front at a Clapton show. Eric’s band is excellent, and features Paul Carrack this time around, and some excellent slide guitar from Greg Liesz.
My own view is that Clapton has been on great form for several years now. His show represents the blends of style that he has engaged with over the years, from the blues guitar with which he made his name, through acoustic country/folk, and with a smattering of the secret crooner that has crept through over the years. Thinking of the latter (Eric the crooner that is) I remember the first time I saw Clapton at Hammersmith in 1974 he opened with Chaplin’s Smile, which I thought very strange at the time. Since then he has played quite a few standards, including tracks like The Folks That Live on the Hill, and Goodnight Irene, both of which feature on his latest album Old Sock. Now ten years ago, I would have cringed at hearing Clapton sing those songs. But now they have become some of the my favourites. I am not sure if it is because I am older, or because Eric has mellowed into an older jazz/blues singer; its probably a bit of both. But I drove down to Manchester listening to Old Sock, and really enjoyed it. Goodnight Irene featured in last nights set, and sounded just great. I’ve even got used to the acoustic version of Layla, and hold on I actually really like it! Highlights for me were a great version of Badge, which now returns to the song after the strange sudden ending which I always felt wasn’t quite right since I first heard in when I bought Goodbye Cream on the day it came out; Blues Power, a great song that I had all but forgotten, Crossroads, and closer Cocaine.
Peter Kay (!) came on stage for the encore, encouraging us to shout for more, and joining Clapton for Sunshine of Your Love, playing a mock guitar made out of two shovels (which he played behind his head and with his teeth) and singing a couple of verses. Great stuff! Oh and I haven’t really mentioned Eric’s guitar playing! Actually it was excellent; probably not as full on as it used to be, and second guitarist Doyle Bramhall II takes quite a few of the solos (and he too is also excellent), but when Eric did turn it up as he did during Badge, Crossroads and the classics his playing was as great as I had ever seen. Indeed he was using tone, distortion, volume and wah wah to great effect and more than I have seen for some time. I was sharp out of the arena during the last song (sorry Eric, but I did have a 130 mile home, and it was getting of for 11pm) into the car park and off across the M62 and up the A1. I was back at 1am. A great gig from a true master who just gets better and better.
Review by Stephan Riley
Was at gig thought it was quite surreal Peter Kay on stage with Clapton,all the guitarists who would have loved to have been up there jamming with Clapton,Peter Kay with a double handed shovel. On the whole really enjoyed the gig Eric souring solos and a very tight backing band,excellent acoustic numbers very polished show!
Review by Andy S.
From the first moment he strolled on stage EC oozed class. To start with the sublime Hello Old Friend and go straight into My Fathers Eyes shows the depth of material at his disposal. Some inspired playing of blues took us into Goodnight Irene, It Aint Easy, a perfect acoustic version of Layla, an outstanding performance of Tears in Heaven, the amazing Nobody Knows When You’re Down & Out and finally Lay Down Sally – what a middle section of a concert! By the time Cocaine rang out in full electric mode there was nothing else to say. EC does not talk much on stage, but when he is as good as this with the band he has assemebled he does not need to.
Review by Nilanjan C
Truly great concert – 22 songs spanning his career without the pressure of any album to promote. The current tour band has some excellent sessions players. Clapton himself at an apotheosis quite relaxed and happy to share some blistering solos and vocals with the others. Hilarious encore with Peter Kay and the double shovel.
Review by Andrea R.
I’ve seen Eric 12 times in the past years and yesterday concert was easily one of the best! Eric was on top form and in a great mood right from the moment he walked onstage. The setlist has been changed slightly from the one in Birmingham and for the best – as much as I like Wonderful Tonight I feel that has been played to death in the last 10 years on tour!
There are not enough words to describe how amazing the new band is. From the moment that Paul Carrack and Greg Leisz were announced as band members I was curious to see how they would integrate in the core sound of the band and boy, they didn’t disappoint! Greg is an absolute monster of musicianship – great solos everywhere and fantastic little touches in virtually every song. Paul is a terrific singer and he did a great job with the Hammond – second only to the great late Billy Preston.
If it was for me I’d probably shorten the acoustic/seated set to 4 songs rather than 6 – but this is me being extremely picky!
Eric’s playing was just right on the money, you could tell from the first solo on Tell The Truth that he was particularly inspired and he kept playing strongly throughout the 2 hours and 15 minutes of concert. Once again I’d like to point out a fact that too often gets overlooked – Eric’s vocals. He improved so much in the last 30 years and now he’s incredibly expressive (Tears In Heaven was an highlight in this respect)”
The “duet” with Peter Kay on Sunshine Of Your Love was just hilarious and it was very nice to see the band and Eric genuinely having so much fun!
Review by Ian Saunders
It’s 30 years since I first saw EC on the Money & Cigarettes Tour. I’ve seen him many times since, and tonights show at the Manchester Arena was without doubt one of the best.
I hadn’t looked at any previous reviews/set lists, and was pleasantly surprised with some of the songs included. The great thing about an EC show is that it will not simply be a few new songs and some standards, there will always be some songs resurrected that haven’t been played maybe for several decades. Having not seen EC prior to the 80’s, I haven’t heard Hello Old Friend, a personal favourite, live before, and the return of Blues Power, not heard for years, was a treat, and played brilliantly.
The last time I saw Eric, May 2011 in Glasgow, I did a review for WE, where I mentioned, as did some others, that, good as EC was, too many songs included what felt like were unnecessary piano/keyboard solos. There was none of that tonight. Yes, the various band members got a chance to show off, but this time it wasn’t repetitive, and didn’t feel like padding. Some of Chris Stantons playing was incredible, and Steve Jordan is a brilliant drummer, some excellent subtle touches.
In the programme, Eric wrote that he would be playing some songs that have done well commercially, so surprisingly, there was no Wonderful Tonight, but, perhaps equally surprising, there was a superb Tears In Heaven, a song I thought Eric had said he wouldn’t play again.I think for me the standout was the funked up Got To Get Better In A Little While, reminiscent of the Hurricane Sandy Benefit Concert, just phenomenal.
Eric showed himself to be a good sport, allowing Peter Kay, who came on to introduce the encores, to mess about as much as he did during Sunshine of Your Love. The closing song, High Time We Went, was sung by Paul Carrack, which I thought slightly odd – nothing wrong with the song, just surprised EC didn’t sing the concert closer.
Only 1 negative aspect of the show (for me). If you were one of the 2 women sitting in floor block D, row K or the group of 4 or 5 people immediately behind, you should know that I would have happily killed you all. The 2 women did, to be fair, stop their incessant chatting when I told them they were spoiling the concert for me, but the idiots behind talked throughout. Why would you pay a lot of money for a concert and have a conversation right through it? Notwithstanding these selfish clowns, this was a truly memorable show. Thanks to Eric and his excellent band.
Review by Steve Burnett
4 years ago exactly to the day I was at the MEN watching Clapton and finally he was back again. Rail thin and more laid back than ever if that’s possible but still playing with a passion and fire that’s unmatched. Great songs all evening. Highlights for me being:
Hello old friend
Got to get better in a little while
Sunshine of your love
Sunshine being introduced by Peter Kay and also featuring Mr Kay on double shovel Very comical performance and its great to see Eric and his band having a laugh. 2 songs I’d never thought him hear play again where My Fathers Eyes and a Reggae version of Tears in Heaven. The later being a very moving moment due to the meaning of the song to Eric and to many who have adopted it later. Be interesting to know why he has reintroduced these songs back into his set list after all this time.
Great to see him up close. I was on the front row. Hope to see him for many more years to come.
Review by John Trayler
Great show which got better and better as the night went one. I particularly liked the Robert Johnson numbers. I first listened to Eric after The Bluesbreakers “Rambling one my Mind” and have loved them since the 60’s. So, a lot to thank Eric for not least a fantastic night out last Tuesday. Good to see him chilling out with Peter Kay too. Great fun.
Review by Hiroshi M
Manchester made up for the previous night that left something of an anticlimactic taste. Manchester crowd had everything Birmingham the night before didn’t; i.e., cheers, friendliness, warmth if not overt enthusiasm to name a few. And the performance reflected the positive vibe in the air — Eric and the band in turn delivered a truly vibrant performance, and rocked the house.
Strangely enough, both performance-wise and audience response-wise, the overall feel of the show in this Northern city reminded me of many a great Osaka show I’ve been to when Eric was on. Not coincidentally, perhaps, as Osaka was once dubbed the “Manchester of The East” when it was undergoing heavy industrialization in the nineteenth century.
I have come to the realization that, for these recent years, Eric puts more and more emphasis on ensemble than solo guitar spots on the live occasions. But tonight, so many moments he unharnessed himself and played as long as he wanted, lick after lick, phrase after phrase. See how Eric soloing on Blues Power, look how his fingers go loose, up and down the fretboard like spiders on the run! Amazing dexterity indeed. I’ve seen this so many times, but it still gives shivers down the spine, still makes me breathless and stops time.
People say he has nothing left to prove. Yet again, in Manchester, he proved more than enough, that he’s still got it.