Review by Joseph Chinnaya
My wife Lizelle and I booked our tickets for this 24th May ‘Royal Albert Hall EC concert’ way back in October 2012. Our hope was to see Eric live on the evening of our 10th wedding anniversary. We travelled from India (Bangalore) on 24th morning IST to catch this concert, and despite some logistical hassles we arrived in time for the show. After attending the VIP pre-show gathering (that served some nice drinks and eats), we got to our seats just as Gary Clark Jr. was closing on his last song (isn’t he special? Wow!).
I have been longing to see and hear clapton live for 20 years, ever since I started my musical journey. To witness his magic, musicianship, and aura in an arena like RAH left me numb and speechless. I just couldn’t believe how energetic, effortless, and creative Eric is even to this day. The band played an amazing set list, they sounded so together and phonogenic (photogenic as well). Liz and I just loved the opening song “Hello Old Friend…” it was so apt and personal, it just intantly connected with us. The band itself is a collection of masters in their own right. Steve Jordan in particular, I’ve loved him on all the work he has done with John Mayer, and seeing him live with Eric was a wonderful treat. Greg Leisz was sounding quite amazing too, true to his reputation and collborations, a wonderful artist indeed.
For Liz and I who travelled halfway around the world for this concert, it was a great anniversary gift. It feels amazing that Eric has now become an everlasting part of our significant moment of celebration.
Cheers to Eric’s 50 years of performances…and many more to come! Thank you, Eric!
Review by Darryl Burrows / Windsor, Ontario
I have not seen Eric play live since the Buffalo, New York, War Memorial Stadium gig in 1974 – just after the release of 461 Ocean Boulevard, a very long time. At that time Eric was having his problems with sobriety and he was quite inebriated at that show. I thought his performance that evening was adequate – but I was also a bit disappointed. I waited 40 years to see him again – all of that time always appreciating the music Eric released while he was getting his life in order.
I have a copy of the 24 Nights CD and I have always just loved the sound of that live CD – taped at the legendary Royal Albert Hall in London and I have always been aware of the residence concerts he has done there for decades. Being that this is Eric’s 50th anniversary as a professional musician, I decided that this was the year my wife and I made our first trek over to England from Windsor, Ontario, Canada – to see Eric live at the Royal Albert Hall. Our concert was on Friday evening May 24, 2013. It started promptly at 8:35 p.m.
I was not disappointed. Eric was in fine form – his voice was perfect and his guitar playing superb, both electric and acoustic. The choice of songs was wonderful, blending in some Cream (the powerful version of Badge, and the equally powerful version of Sunshine of Your Love in the encore). He also threw in his top notch version of J.J. Cale’s Cocaine – a song Eric has made all his own. Sentimental favorites My Fathers Eyes, Layla, and Tears in Heaven were songs of great poignancy and had special meaning to both my wife and I.
He filled the set with some solid blues numbers as well – especially the Robert Johnson covers – Stones in My Passway, Love in Vain, the enduring Crossroads so associated with Cream, and Little Queen of Spades. All were performed to perfection. Eric alternated from playing electric to sitting down on a chair and playing accoustic – and it was a treat to hear both genres.
The band was equally up to the task – I have long been a fan of Paul Carrack since his initial hit with the band Ace back in 1974, to his days with Mike Rutherford of Genesis in his side band, Mike and The Mechanics – to Paul’s solo albums . I have them all in my collection and his playing of the Hammond B3 just added so much colour and depth to the band, along with Paul’s superb vocals. Chris Stainton has been around forever, a seasoned keyboard veteran who never disappoints, and Steve Jordan keeps a driving rhythm going – he always looks busy -even during slower tempo songs. Doyle Bramhall II, one can tell, has earned Eric’s respect as a guitar player. He carries his own weight up there on the stage and can play with Eric or anyone else – a delight to watch and listen to. The band was tight, well rehearsed and they were a treat for both the eyes and the ears.
All in all – one of the best evenings of music I have ever had the experience of participating in. Worth the trip and the sizable investment I made to see it all.
Thanks Eric and the band – as well as the Royal Albert Hall – lifelong memories were made that evening.
Review by Nigel Reeve
I reviewed recently the concert t the Birmingham Arena and said how sure I was I would see a different smiling band and more appreciative house here tonight. How right I was. I am beginning to think that the Royal Albert Hall is the only place to see EC and his band in the UK as from the opening chords of Hello Old Friend to the rousing finish of High Time We went this was indeed one very special concert.
The whole band where smiling and joking as they walked on to the stage and I knew we were in for something very special. It is well documented that Eric likens the RAH to playing in his own front room and maybe it’s this comfort factor that make his appearances here stand head and shoulders above the rest. He appears totally relaxed and safe in the knowledge that the majority of the house will totally appreciate his work, music and indeed his life. Unfortunately for us we had 2 rather ignorant socialites in front but it didn’t spoil our evening, if you are looking for just a night out then please go to the dog races next time!
I am trying to recall if I have actually seen a better concert than this but as I have seen EC too many times to recall 100%, I will just say it was certainly up there.
The band he has assembled this time is just simply one of his best ever and whilst Eric is very modest in his program notes, I can understand the point he is making about his supporting cast. The rhythm section of Steve and Willie is just so rock solid you could build a house on it and Steve just drives the band with such energy and clever fills, I sincerely hope I will get the chance to see this section play together again. In Doyle Eric has found his true soul mate and he never stops smiling! The addition of the pedal steel and slide guitar with for Greg Leisz was a master stroke filling out the set list and allowing songs to be played as we have never heard them before. Eric without Chris Stainton, (or Willie Weeks) I don’t think so!) and I never get tired of his solos especially on Little Queen of Spades and Cocaine. Paul Carrack is refreshing and on the second time of seeing him definitely very reminiscent of the late great Billy Preston. Last but not least the girls, I was listening to some studio recordings the other day and whilst the girls are not present their harmonies and backing vocals came through in my mind and ears as if they were, such is their impact know on the live gigs. Well done ladies!
Eris’s playing all night was simply sublime and whilst I am not known for hooting and hollering I did let out a loud cheer at the end of Got to Get Better, this was spine tingling and so tight it had to be heard to be believed.
The set list for this tour just seems to blend so well and gives everybody a chance to showcase their amazing talents and whilst we all look forward to seeing Eric play it is in no way EC and his backing band. They are all at the absolute peak of their chosen profession and blessed with such great talent and we are so lucky to be able to witness it.
Highlights of the night for me where Got to Get Better, Blues Power, Love in Vain (which is a song I have overlooked), Sunshine and the whole of the sit down set.
You could have heard a pin drop during a very emotional version of Tears in Heaven and for a musician to hold nearly approximately 5,000 people in the palm of their hand must have been a very special moment.
As the closing bars of Chris Stainton’s solo on Cocaine brought the concert to its natural end I could look forward to the encores but also realised the opportunity to see such a great musician are diminishing so I fully intend to enjoy it to the full.
This time I got to hear Sunshine, unlike Birmingham and well worth the wait, with Gary Clark Junior joining for the latter section it was part of a fantastic end to a fantastic evening. Thumbs up for the inclusion of High Time We Went which is the perfect high energy finale complete with false ending.
That was it all over but as predicted the band took their fully deserved plaudits and we received the customary bow before they all walked of smiling and joking just as they had arrived some 2 hours previous. Thank you, thank you.
If Eric is true to form then let’s hope we can all do this again in 2 years time and let’s hope again it’s not his farewell tour. Life goes on but without these live concerts it would seem to be missing something.
Massive thanks again to Eric, Doyle, Greg, Paul, Chris, Steve, Willie, Sharon and Michelle for yet another great night for and memories I will personally cherish. Let’s do it again sometime soon!
Review by Ken Norris
A very fine Friday night at the RAH. Steve Jordan and Willie Weeks found a particularly deep groove on My Father’s Eyes, and it all seemed to unfold
from there. When EC strapped on the black Strat for Tell The Truth he was definitely in the mood to play, and there was a lot of notable soloing
throughout the evening. Gotta Get Over continues to gather force, and Got To Get Better In A Little While has been memorable every night that I have heard it played. Some nights Come Rain Or Come Shine is spot on, and some nights it isn’t. Last night it wasn’t smooth, but it is definitely a song to keep in the setlist. Badge was exceedingly lively, with EC playing what seemed like a longer than usual solo.
We were in the presence of the blue guitar for the entire unplugged set. No guitar switching around–just seven songs played on the blue Martin.
Driftin’ was played and sung with feeling. Other stand-outs for me were a very vulnerable Tears In Heaven and a rollicking Stones In My
Passway. Those who had come for the hits did not go home disappointed, as Layla and Wonderful Tonight were also part of the acoustic set.
EC kind of lost his way early on in the solo to Blues Power, playing a few bum notes, but then responded by absolutely nailing the rest of the song and solo to the wall. Overall, that was the best performance of Blues Power I have seen. Little Queen of Spades was splendid as usual, and in his closing solo EC hit a few notes in the upper reaches I didn’t know existed. His solo on Night Four was terrific, but this one might have been better.
As we have come to expect on this tour, the encore was Sunshine Of Your Love followed by High Time We Went. Gary Clark Jr. came out for the end of Sunshine, and there was a lot of extended soloing and interplay between GCJr and EC. High Time We Went sent the crowd home with a final rush of R&B energy.
Review by David Gourlay
Last night at the Hall, Eric Clapton yet again demonstrated this is his cherished home with a set list showcasing the depth of his long and fascinating career over an incredible 50 yrs. From Cream to Derek and the Dominos to his solo career paying tribute to his passion for the blues and his life, Eric’s guitar work consistently inspires more and more fans. The evening included great accompaniment by his loyal bandmates and as always Eric shares the spotlight.
Highlights – an endearing acoustic version of Wonderful Tonight, a swag stand-up acoustic of No Reason to Cry’s “Hello Old Friend”, Love in Vain, Badge, Nobody Knows You, Got to Get Better with Jordan’s deep drumming. It was also very nice to hear two of his three songs for his son; My Father’s Eyes and Tears in Heaven. They continue to be powerful yrs later. Plus of course Robert J’s Little Queen Of Spades, Eric’s greatest blues standard.
A wonderful evening at the Hall – always well worth the journey across the pond from Canada to come home to London.
Review by Rob & Fem / The Netherlands
And once again my husband and I were lucky enough to obtain 2 last minutes-returned tickets from the RAH-box office only 5 weeks prior to the concert. We had to make some efforts planning a last minute trip from Amsterdam, not being aware of the fact that London was almost fully booked because of the Wembley Cup Final Dortmund-Bayern; we’re just more into blues than into soccer I guess.
But this gig was certainly worth every penny of it and even more than that. From the first note it was clear that Eric didn’t intend to make it an easy-going night. Although he played more of his better known hits (as E.C. promised in the fantastic “50 years Further up the road”-tour program) than we’ve heard at any other concert before, they all sounded amazingly fresh and vivid ‘cause of the high quantity of superb solo’s Eric played. It seemed to me that they may not have been as lengthy as before, but they most certainly were of the high quality brilliance we hoped for. For me the pinnacle of the evening was the lengthy version of Little Queen of Spades, how I love that song!
The ever embracing Albert Hall not only gave Eric a warm welcome but also a very well deserved ovation after the fantastic encore featuring Gary Clark jr. As always, it was over too soon, but this was one of the very best performances we’ve seen the man play and we realized that we might have been part of a piece of British Blues History. It’s obvious that E.C. will never grow old or get bored or tired, he’s is simply going where his music takes him and how fortunate we are for being able to stroll along gently further on up the road….Thanks a million Eric & band for having us, you were all wonderful last Friday night!
Review by Paul H / South London
The main man’s playing was full of energy and his vocals as strong as ever. The first part of the show was in my opinion perhaps the best part with numerous highlights and an energy and consistency lacking on recent tours. Got To Get Better In A Little While and Sheriff both featured fierce solos and Clapton seemed fresh and pleased to be there.
Review by Deborah Bates
Well, what a night… Eric was simply phenomenal. Doyle took the main solos and licks on the first three songs, which I have to admit left me a little panicked that EC wouldn’t pick up a solo for the show. I should have known better than to worry though, because as soon as he warmed up, EC’s performance was beyond words and slick; slipping from song to song with his signature “Thank you!” and no sign of feeling tired whatsoever. Highlights for me included the quicker, softer version of My Father’s Eyes, the opening Hello Old Friend (which I never thought I would see live), the mind-blowing licks on Got to Get Better in a Little While and the succinct yet gorgeous Driftin’. Steve Jordan’s work on Got to get Better… was absolutely amazing – what a talent! In fact, EC really has assembled a world-class band of musicians who wouldn’t look out of place on their own respective tours. The addition of Paul Carrack in particular was a stroke of genius – especially enjoyed his and EC’s version of Come Rain or Come Shine. EC obviously really treasures Doyle, too; allowing him several opportunities to crank up the guitar for a solo. No-one will ever replace EC, but Doyle is certainly learning well from him – as is Gary Clarke Jr, who joined EC for the encore on Sunshine of your Love. All in all, to all the reviewers who implied that EC has lost it, is leaning too much on the band or is simply past his time, get a grip! This was truly one of the best nights of my life and proof that the big man still has a lot left in him yet. He’s simply moving on to a different style of performing – one that I very much like.
Review by Hiroshi M.
It started as something of a slow-burner, and finished as one white heat of a show. In my humble opinion, the first half was above average, not out-of-this-worldy, to say the most of it. The extended and inspired solo on Badge may have given the audience a glimpse of what was to come later. After a relaxed, very enjoyable sit-down set, the show was picked up from Blues Power, and Eric’s unstoppable, growing intensity from then on was just remarkable and jaw-dropping — highlight after highlight and we were totally blown away in the end. Another triumph, another unforgettable night. I wouldn’t be surprised that it will remain one of the best shows of the tour.