Venue: Nippon Budokan
Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Chris Stainton – piano, keyboards
Paul Carrack – organ, keyboards
Nathan East – bass
Steve Gadd – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
Opening night of Eric’s 2014 Tour and his 40th Anniversary Tour of Japan. It was also his 200th concert in the country. It also took place at the same venue as his first show in Japan in 1974.
01. Tell The Truth
02. Key To They Highway
04. Hoochie Coochie Man
05. Honest Man
06. Wonderful Tonight
07. After Midnight
09. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
10. Alabama Woman
12. Tears In Heaven
13. How Long (Paul Carrack / Vocals)
14. Before You Accuse Me
15 Little Queen Of Spades
18. High Time We Went (Encore – Paul Carrack / Vocals)
Review by Tsuzuki Hiroyuki
It was the 200th anniversary gig, tonight, since Eric first came to Japan in 1974. It has been a long time. Things and people here in Japan have much changed. The teenagers of 70’s have now got older. They are middle-aged audiences today.
In those days no one predicted that Eric’s concert would take place at the Budokan after 40 years. Such a long-term popularity as a guitarist is based on his attractive playing that appeals to musical appetites of every ages.
The frequency of the gigs has doubled since 1993 by grace of the mega-hit of “ Unplugged “. At its maximum the show had a 10 days run at the Budokan in 2006. With a bit decline of popurality the shows are reduced to 4 days this year. It is rumored that 2014 tour will be the last one in Japan. But it remains to be seen if it can be true. I remember the 2001 “Reptile “ tour would be also the last in Japan. The fact is that Eric has toured 3 times( ’03, ’06, ’11 ) since then. I feel tonight that 2016or 2017 Japan tour has possibility.
The 20th tour in Japan has just started at the Budokan for the first time in these 15 years and also will be finished here on 28 February. It will be an exciting and memorable show for the Japanese people who have been loving Eric for the past 40 years.
Eric played “Tears In Heaven “, tonight. I have been thinking that Eric has no more intention to play this song. Probably he knows that the people extremely love it. And Eric expressed his thankfulness by playng this one.
Review by Dave ‘Bluescrazy’ Langley
The night starts with Eric getting a slow hand clap from the audience due to the show starting late. Once started the set list took on a familiar theme. Took a while in my view for the band to light up, guess down to only a few days together. I think the absence of a second guitar was noticeable. Come back, Doyle. With Nathan back in the band, I was surprised they did not include Can’t Find My Way Home given Eric guests on his album.
Review by Hiroshi M.
The expectation was high. This is a continuation of Eric’s 50 years’ anniversary tour, and his 20th Japan tour as well, since his first visit to play these islands back in 1974, which makes this his 40 years’ anniversary Japan tour.
And the first date this time, 18th of February, is his 200th Japanese show by chance – a remarkable achievement to say the least. Certainly he is one of the rockers most loved by the Japanese.
At about 7:15, Eric and the band took the stage of the same old Budokan. And the moment he launched into the all too familiar intro of Tell The Truth, I – perhaps along with hordes of diehards among the crowd – couldn’t help feeling disappointed. Oh no, not again – we heard it in 2006 and 2009. The bulk of the numbers followed – Key To The Highway, Hoochie Coochie Man, Drifting, Nobody Knows You When You Are Down And Out, Before You Accuse Me etc. – we heard them all before, too. After an eye-opening rejuvenation of the 2013 tour with a refreshing setlist, Eric’s choice of the songs to perform now seems to have stepped back into an oft-visited realm of the 2008-2011 tour years (bar the co-headlining tour with Winwood). Such was the mundaneness of the setlist that the uptempo version of Wonderful Tonight, that ever-present, well-worn live staple and crowd-pleaser, which started with a few chord strokes by Eric, kind of felt like a highlight of the show!
Pretending, Honest Man (sung by Paul Carrack), After Midnight and Alabama Woman Blues, a Leroy Carr cover selected for the sit-down set, were a notable few new additions this time around.
As for the performance, Eric was on, I think – but his playing last night gave me an impression that he played not so much adventurous as safe, and he rarely stepped into “the zone”. Of course, he is Eric Clapton, and he played an outstanding solo here and there, but I felt overall his playing lacked the intensity that manifested itself on so many occasions at the several UK shows I attended last year, as if he had almost used up the mental energy that had driven him forward some nine months before. There was a certain feeling in me that the thrill was gone no matter what.
On the positive note, Paul Carrack more than contributed his talent and skills as a singer and keyboard player, which impressed the Japanese who were unfamiliar with his name for sure. With no second guitarist in the ensemble now, I’d hope to see Paul not only play keyboards but also guitars like he does in his own show, which would surely add some extra textures and punches to the performance.
Unlike the occasion of his 100th Japanese show at the Budokan on 17th of October, 1997, there was no ceremonial presentation to commemorate his 200th Japanese show by Udo Artists, the promoter who singlehandedly organized Eric’s Japan tour over the years – many fans had expected it to happen, therefore, once the show was over and the houselights were lit promptly, there was an air of huge disappointment about there.
18 songs were played in 1 hour and 50 minutes, i.e., less songs and shorter in length than the 2013 tour, where the band played 20 to 22 songs in 2 to 2 and 15 minutes. All in all, somewhat an anticlimactic start for what may well be his last tour over here. I hope things will improve over the next few shows, and will see what it will be like on the shows in Nagoya and Osaka.