Venue: Royal Albert Hall
City: South Kensington, London
Country: United Kingdom
Review by Ann Crick / North London
Thank you Eric for 50+ years of incredible music and another fantastic concert last night at the Royal Albert Hall. Eric’s music has been a constant thread running through my life since the Yardbirds.
The show opened with a good set from Andy Fairweather Low and The Low Riders.
The set from Eric and the band line-up were the same as for the New York concerts, but with no guest artists. It was good to see Eric playing centre stage as the sole guitarist, and it was good to see him appearing relaxed, happy and contented. To have Nathan East and Steve Gadd back in the band was a delight. Highlights for me were Can’t Find My Way Home, with Nathan singing lead (brought back memories of concerts in the early 90’s), I shot The Sheriff – amazing solo as ever, and Little Queen of Spades. Eric’s playing and voice are as strong as ever – still plenty of fire. I’m sure not many people noticed when a guitar string broke towards the end of the set, as he still played perfectly.
In the acoustic set, the audience launched into singing “Happy Birthday” to Eric, which seemed to go down well! Later in the concert Eric dedicated Let it Rain to his “beautiful and wonderful wife”, which was a lovely touch.
The traditional audience stage rush for the encore is no more – the stewards no longer allow it, though this wasn’t a problem for me as I was fortunate to get my favourite seat in the centre of the front row. Eric was joined by Andy for the encore. It was a great night, memories I shall treasure forever – I just wish I could go again.
I appreciate Eric no longer wants to do the long tours and wants to spend more time with his family, but I hope and pray he will still do the occasional concert, as the prospect of no more concerts at the Royal Albert Hall to look forward to is too awful to contemplate. Thanks for the wonderful music and memories Eric.
Review by Tony Thouless
Went to the Royal Albert Hall for the first night 14/05/15 and it was great. Little queen of spades was one of the high points but the whole set was very good. Hope it’s not the last tour. He is far too good to retire, he gives so much pleasure to so many people. Great that the audience sang happy birthday to him. Don’t think he expected that but a very nice moment, just shows the feeling we have for him.
Review by Graeme Styles
I have been a fan of Mr Clapton’s for forty years now and this concert marked my 35th occasion that I had seen the great man live.
Sadly when the gig came to an end I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed by the whole event.
If as Eric has hinted this is to be his farewell to live performances, than I feel even at the ripe young age of seventy he could have given the crowd a little more than he did. The audience were pumped up and primed having already given Andy Fairweather-Low and The Low Riders (support) a great welcome and fully deserved respect.
The set list was identical to his second night at MSG and pretty much the same as the past few years as well. With a song catalogue as expansive and rich as EC’s why does he stick with performing the same songs year after year?
I’m not going to go into the songs that I wished he’d covered as the list would be endless and just my personal choice. However as good as ‘You are so beautiful’ The Joe Cocker number is and was performed by the excellent Paul Carrack, this should have been an evening solely dedicated to Clapton’s music and why finish with ‘High Time We Went’ Again. Would it not been a better idea to go out with an electric version of ‘Layla’? Eric didn’t even sing the last song! We could have had ‘Same Old Blues’ maybe ‘Old Love’ or ‘Bell Bottom Blues’ Yes as I said the list is endless.
The highlights of the evening had to be little ‘Queen Of Spades’ and ‘Let It Rain’, moments where the true guitar god showed glimpses of his greatness.
It really hurts me to write this negative review because I truly am an avid fan of Eric’s but this was not the goodbye I expected. Eric has been a man of few words and has instead allowed his guitar to do the talking. I don’t think that Eric even allowed his guitar to have much of a natter tonight.. Eric definitely is as he said in recent interviews, struggling.
Thanks for all the memories though, Eric. Happy Retirement.
Review by Barbara Mitchelmore
I counted up the other day and 14th and 15th of May have brought my total to 91 times that I’ve seen Eric Clapton in concert – I probably could have bought a small car with what I’ve spent on tickets but that wouldn’t have given me anything like as much enjoyment!
Friends ask ‘why do you go to so many shows’ but those of you who have had the privilege to to see Eric live a few times will know that, even if the set list is the same, Eric’s performance isn’t. He always plays from the heart but sometimes his heart just seems bigger.
I wasn’t sure what to expect on Thursday night, he’s 70 after all, and would the skill and passion still be evident in a man of that age? The programme notes didn’t encourage me – Eric wrote ‘please bear with me if it looks like I’m struggling up there at times’.
I needn’t have worried, OK he fluffed his words a couple of times, but Thursday’s performance was great from the 1st to last note and his solos were outstanding. He also spoke more than he does on most occasions – after the audience sang happy birthday commenting that he wasn’t the oldest one there and who else was wearing a heat pad! I left the auditorium on a high and woke to the news that BB King had died – a true gentleman, a great performer and a genuine loss to those of us who enjoy the blues.
Having seen Eric’s moving tribute to BB on his Facebook page, as I approached the Hall on Friday night, I wondered whether he would play something from ‘Riding with the King’ or one of BB’s numbers but that wasn’t to be.
The audience gave Eric, and the band, a standing ovation as they walked on to the stage and Eric started the show by dedicating it to BB.
I felt the 1st two or three songs weren’t as good as the previous night but from then on it got better and better and, if BB was watching, I’m sure he would have been smiling – Eric’s solos seemed more extended than the previous night and the other band members stepped up to the plate with Chris, in particular, showing extended virtuosity on the keyboards.
A large portion of the audience seemed to actually know a lot of the songs that Eric performed recognising the intros, in a way that isn’t always apparent, and our response clearly pleased Eric because we got 4 bows after the encore and I’ve only every seen him give a maximum of 3 before!
All in all another two amazing nights in the company of Mr Clapton. I can’t wait for Saturday and my next visit to the Albert Hall, I’m just hoping, with all the comments about retiring, that it won’t be my last.
Eric Clapton, Royal Albert Hall, London
David Chael (via The Financial Times)
The man his fans used to call “God” has turned out to be a mortal: 70 years old, beginning to look a little frail, comfortable in his jeans and deck shoes, a happily married family man. And the fire in Eric Clapton’s belly that once burned bright throughout his live performances now flames sporadically, as it did here on the first night of his umpteenth season of gigs at the Royal Albert Hall (surely, having first performed here more than 50 years ago, he’s now entitled at the very least to a resident’s parking permit).
This was a satisfying, reassuringly familiar show; for Clapton’s fans there was nothing here to frighten the horses — a tight little band featuring old muckers Steve Gadd on drums, Chris Stainton on keyboards, Nathan East on bass, Paul Carrack on Hammond organ, plus the statutory duo of voluptuous female backing vocalists, performing songs from Clapton’s songbook, recently assembled into a comprehensive compilation album, Forever Man. We got “Key to the Highway”, the unplugged “Layla”, the long, crescendoing “I Shot the Sheriff”, “Hoochie Coochie Man”, “Wonderful Tonight” and a gently reggaefied “Tears in Heaven”. Carrack sang gorgeously on “You Are So Beautiful”, ditto East’s falsetto vocals on the Blind Faith gem, “Can’t Find My Way Home”.
Throughout, there were bursts of brilliance from Clapton, who remains a soloist of rare fluency; not many guitarists can break a top E string mid-solo and carry on playing as if nothing has happened. Stainton, meanwhile, delivered a series of solos whose percussive chords and rippling glissandos brought to mind players such as Keith Jarrett, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jelly Roll Morton, sometimes all at once.
News of the death of B.B. King didn’t emerge until the next day, otherwise Clapton would doubtless have found some way of honouring the man who — along with two other Kings, Freddie and Albert — helped bring him to the blues, and with whom he collaborated often. But it was Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” that brought the night alive and stayed in the memory, slowed down to half the pace of the classic live Cream version but nevertheless simmering with intent, Gadd’s drumming suddenly becoming noticeably snappier, Clapton adopting the posture that’s become so recognisable over the years: head tilted slightly upwards, eyes closed, mouth open, feet marching on the spot, his fingers threading shimmering strings of musical pearls.