Venue: The Forum
Country: United States
Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Chris Stainton – piano, keyboards
Walt Richmond – organ, keyboards
Nathan East – bass
Steve Gadd – drums
Sharlotte Gibson – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
Jimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark, Jr.
This show was originally scheduled for March 25, 2017. Due to severe bronchitis and under doctor’s advisement, EC needed to reschedule the concert and it is now part of a run of shows already scheduled for September. This is night 1 of 4 at The Forum.
Review by Dan Harris
Well, after a 6 month delay due to bronchitis, was able to see the man last night (Wednesday) at the Forum. And Mr Clapton did not disappoint the crowd, and the crowd did not disappoint him (They were with him from the first note until the last chord). He walked on stage with no fanfare and then gave a masters class on what a concert should be; great visuals that complemented the music with a kick-ass band and singers backing him up, plenty of what he is known for (Strong and long guitar mastery), and finally a complete show including both electric and acoustic touching on all phases of his career. If I would say one (and only) negative was I don’t believe Gary Clarke Jr.’s guitar setup was correct for his first song (to much distortion). But he still brought his A game as did everyone.
Review by Michael McCarthy
I took my wife and our 14 year old son to last evening’s show at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, CA. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this but if this is EC’s farewell tour you certainly could have fooled us. The man played like a force of nature. Now others more well spoken than I have written pages and pages about Mr. Clapton’s six string skills so I won’t bore you here; you are reading this because you love Eric’s guitar playing, so I hope that you agree.
My wife, Ellyn, said, “He sure doesn’t talk much”. Well, no one goes to an Eric Clapton concert in the hopes of him spouting a Springsteenesque monologue or hearing him veer off into a Bono-like rant. We came to hear a man sing and play guitar like no one else.
“I Shot The Sheriff” was a wonder. Mr. Clapton, by turns, went from performance to Bob Marley tribute making it something only the 18,000+ will ever experience. I have heard him playing this song since the 1970’s but last night’s was one for the ages. The set list gave us an extended “Unplugged” section. I’ll be the first to say that I prefer my “Layla” electrified, thank you, very much, and yet I was not disappointed as talent carried the day. And while some of my favourite songs were missing (“Bell Bottom Blues”) a very powerful “White Room” more than made up for it.
The finale was “Before You Accuse Me” where Eric Clapton and His Band were joined by openers Jimmie Vaughn and Gary Clark, Jr., both of whom were wonderful opening acts.
Ah, yes: His Band. Fine lads and lasses all but Chris Stainton deserves honourable mention for keyboard playing above and beyond the call of duty. My son, who plays piano, sat gobbsmacked as Mr. Stainton played the 88’s and he later told me that he wants to “try some of that stuff” he saw. (Good on yer, Connor!)
In all, an excellent concert by the maestro giving us a masterclass in guitar playing.
Review by Andy Rodriguez
Yesterday was a dream come true, literally. I’m from El Salvador and for years I’ve admire him so much. So to me, to have the opportunity to see him in person, to listen to all of the music I used to listen on the cds, to watched the lives and finally, finally being able to see him playing his guitar there, was a dream come true. His talent, kindness, him; I can truly say how much he loves music, his very old friend and dearest blues. As he said: “You don’t know how much this means, To have this music in me, I just keep playing these blues, Hoping that I don’t lose” (Spiral). I just want to say him: Thank you so much for all of this years of absolutely great music, passion and dedication. Know that you change my life for better and I will cherish this experience for my whole life, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Review by Tory Matson
The concert was my first live Eric Clapton experience but I’m a long time fan. I was listening to Cream and Blind Faith before I was old enough to know who Eric Clapton was. Maybe nine or ten years old. I just can’t say how much I enjoyed being there last night but hearing him play live was lovely, thrilling and nostalgic all at the same time. Jimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr also were fantastic! My husband and I travelled from Mission BC to see the show as we could not stay away.
Review by Scott Sablosky
My 20th Eric Clapton show and hopefully not last. From the way Eric sounded last night, it sure shouldn’t be!
It was a bummer to have had the original Saturday date in March cancelled and rescheduled for a Wednesday, but I’m glad to see Eric well recovered.
The evening started with a great 1-2 punch of Jimmie Vaughn and Gary Clark Jr. Two artists I would gladly pay to see alone let alone as an opener for for EC. Both sounded good and were well received by the audience. Surprisingly, the arena was largely full for both opening acts. They both deserved it. Soon it was time for the main event.
It’s always interesting comparing the different Clapton tours: All blues, opening with an orchestra for “Pilgrim”, opening solo acoustic, a tour with Winwood etc.. Each time I’ve seen him it felt like he showed a new aspect of his talent. In this instance, he would be handling guitar duties all alone. From the opening of “Somebody’s Knocking” the sound was clear, crisp and effective. His voice was in fine form and I think I enjoy his singing later in his career more so than that of his earlier career. I enjoyed every song, but my particular favorites were “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “I Shot the Sheriff”. It was also great for me to hear “Lay Down Sally” for the first time – and it was perfect. If I had one criticism, and even this is a stretch, is that his catalog is so deep there are so many fantastic songs that never seem to get the call. But when you have as many classics as Eric, putting together a setlist must be impossible. But wouldn’t you all love to see a comeback for songs like “She’s Waiting”, “It’s In the Way that You Use It”, “Knockin on Heaven’s Door”, “Let It Grow” etc… I could go on for 50 more songs….even more probably.
Staging was simple, but effective. Video screens hung on each side of the stage showing Eric while a multi screen panel backed the stage going between colored visuals and closeups of Eric’s fretboard. I love watching the closeup detail of the master at work. So fluid, so smooth, so effortless. And his tone was flawless. Magnificent sound. The band, as expected, was spot on. Many old friends like Chris Stainton, Nathan East and Steve Gadd made up this year’s band. When old friends play together long enough, they fit each other like a glove. The Forum is a great place to see a concert. If I wasn’t going away this weekend – I’d probably try to go again! Eric, if you don’t pass our way again – thank you so much. A fantastic show. As long as you keep playing, I’ll keep listening.
Review by Mark Roth
Fantastic show at the Forum on the 13th! If Clapton has lost a step, it is unnoticeable!
From The Orange County Register
Eric Clapton opens a four-night stand – and possible farewell – with a strong Forum show on Wednesday
By PETER LARSEN
If this is it for Eric Clapton – if the four-night run at the Forum he kicked off Wednesday really is the guitar god’s farewell from live performance, as he’s suggested it is – then, of course, any fan of this rock ‘n’ roll legend is going to look back on these nights with the warm glow that comes with knowing you were there.
And in that context, the show was fantastic, Clapton delivering a career-spanning set that included earthy electric blues from his own heroes such as Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, a little taste of Cream, his ’60s power trio, and a good serving of solo hits such as “I Shot The Sheriff,” “Tears In Heaven” and “Cocaine.”
Fifteen songs spread across an hour and 40 minutes of impeccable musicianship from Clapton and his band, and yet if this is goodbye, I wish it felt a little more magical in the moment, offering just a little bit more – more sparks, more players, more songs.
Of course I’m absolutely being greedy here – who wouldn’t want more of what Clapton at his finest can deliver? – and shouldn’t understate the obvious: Clapton remains one of the greats, still breathing fresh inspiration into what could be rote nostalgia in lesser hands, a fact you were reminded off Wednesday time and again in every fluid solo he tore through on his Fender Stratocaster, every flourish and strum on the frets and strings of his Martin acoustic.
After walking on stage and offering a simple welcome to the crowd, the 72-year-old opened his night with “Somebody’s Knockin’,” a song written by but never recorded by Clapton’s longtime friend J.J. Cale, and the only track off his most recent album, last year’s “I Still Do,” played on Wednesday. That eight-minute workout slipped straight into “Key to the Highway,” a blues standard Clapton has recorded several times but first on Derek and the Dominos’ 1970 landmark “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs,” and suddenly we were 15 minutes into the night.
From the start there was a subtly to the performance on stage at the Forum. Clapton, wearing a short-sleeved denim-colored shirt and blue jeans, played center stage, bassist Nathan East and longtime keyboard player Chris Stainton to his left, organist Walt Richmond on his right, drummer Steve Gadd and longtime backing singers Sharon Wright and Michelle John just behind him.
“I Shot The Sheriff,” Clapton’s hit version of Bob Marley’s song, got the huge welcome its chart-topping performance in 1974 would suggest, the lilting pop reggae rhythms and Clapton and his singers’ vocals eventually segueing into an moving and lyrical guitar solo to its finish.
The video monitors eschewed elaborate visuals for most of the night, opting instead for closeups of Clapton’s hands as he played – more so than I think I’ve ever seen in any other concert, but thankfully so given the fascination that watching a man’s hands make that kind of music provided. For “Driftin’ Blues,” the first acoustic number of the night, the seven huge screens that spanned the stage were divided up across the length of his guitar as he strummed and plucked and bent the strings in manner that felt both delicate and forceful.
That opened a mid-show set of five acoustic numbers, the band now all seated on stage, and while it included some of his most-loved hits – a rapid run through “Lay Down Sally,” the iconic “Layla,” and the heartbreaking “Tears In Heaven” – it slowed the pace and energy a touch too long. How much so? When the band kicked back into electric mode with a ferocious opening blast on Cream’s “White Room” I startled, so much had the gentler vibe lulled me in my seat.
That song opened the final 40 minutes of the night with a welcome jolt of energy, which eased only for the aching solos “Wonderful Tonight,” one of Clapton’s finest love songs, before a pair of covers of early electric blues hero Robert Johnson, including “Cross Roads Blues,” a signature song for Clapton throughout his career, and a main-set closing, crowd-pleasing run through J.J. Cale and Clapton’s signature collaboration “Cocaine.”
If this all sounds like wonderful stuff, well, it was. But it also at times felt almost too predictable – versus-chorus-verse-chorus into Clapton solo, then Stainton, then Richmond and back to Eric to wrap it up. My friend and former colleague Ben Wener, who reviewed many a Clapton show over the last few decades, was also at the show and texted later to say he missed the presence of a second guitarist. In 2011 when Clapton last played in Southern California he’d also been the sole guitarist but on earlier tours here he’d used players such as Doyle Bramhall II or Derek Trucks in the band seemed to fire up Clapton’s own playing as they traded licks in songs throughout the night.
You start to imagine what it would be like if he’d played “Layla” in its original electric setting, with this run’s opening act guitarist Gary Clark Jr. filling the role of Duane Allman in the Derek and the Dominos’ sessions, and you can start down a long road of what-ifs. A pointless imagining, really, though Clark and fellow opener Jimmie Vaughan did show up for a run through the Bo Diddley song “Before You Accuse Me,” the single song of the encore, with Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love,” played as part of a pair of encore songs on most of Clapton’s dates this year, curiously and regretfully missing.
Before what we’ll remember as a wonderful night despite our minor griping above. Texas guitarist Clark led his band through 40 minutes of hard-hitting blues-rock with songs such as “Bright Lights,” “When My Train Pulls In,” and a cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together” among the highlights. And opening for everyone on Wednesday was Vaughan, his roadhouse-style blues nicely augmented by saxophone and trombone for a bit of low-end growl on numbers that included “White Boots,” “Roll, Roll, Roll,” and “Texas Flood,” which, of course, he dedicated to all the folks hammered by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.