Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood Open U.S. Tour At New Jersey's Izod Center
Legendary musicians Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood opened up their 14-date tour of the United States on 10 June 2009 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Like the now-historic shows at Madison Square Garden last year, the tour was not billed as a reunion of their supergroup, Blind Faith. Yet, their set certainly played homage to Blind Faith's lone album, with the entire A side of it being performed in their 2 hour 15 minute concert. Like the MSG shows, the dual frontmen amply touched on Winwood's time in Traffic, Spencer Davis Group and his solo career. It was the same with Clapton's back catalog - songs like "Forever Man" "After Midnight" and "Cocaine"- illustrated his incredible 45 year recording history.
The concert at Izod Center was not merely a recreation of their best-selling DVD and CD sets now in stores (Clapton & Winwood: Live From Madison Square Garden). But like the Madison Square Garden shows, the men elevated each other's performance to an incredible degree. The band now includes the supremely talented backing vocalists Michelle John and Sharon White. Their vocals filled gaps that weren't entirely noticeable last year, but with their addition, many fans commented after the show much was indeed missing in that area, particularly on some of the Blind Faith numbers. Abe Laboriel Jr. is a brilliant addition to the rhythm section, which also features bass legend Willie Weeks. Abe's percussive talents are familiar to many from his previous stints in Eric Clapton's band, as well as with Paul McCartney. Rounding out the band is the always amazing Chris Stainton, who was given ample occasion to show off his keyboard chops. An original member of Joe Cocker's Grease Band, Stainton has worked with Clapton for much of the last 30 years. Chris' solo turns had the New Jersey audience cheering.
Following a week of rehearsals, which allowed their backing band to get to know each other musically, Clapton and Winwood walked on stage at 8:15PM and opened their 22 song set with "Had To Cry Today". There may have been some first show of a tour jitters during the first number, but Clapton and Winwood quickly began to exchange gratified smiles of satisfaction. What followed over the course of the evening was the result of a true creative partnership: emotive vocals, soulful sounds from Winwood's Hammond B3 and fiery guitar solos from both Clapton and Winwood.
In addition to their own material, Clapton and Winwood treated the audience to cover versions of some of their favorites, including "Voodoo Chile" and "Little Wing" which were highlights at Madison Square Garden and again this evening.
Clapton performed Big Maceo's "Tough Luck Blues" with it's great line "I used to have a car, it was painted white and black, I couldn't keep up the payments, and the man he took it back". He dedicated the song to Hubert Sumlin, who was spotted seated in the audience. It replaced "Double Trouble" which had been performed at Madison Square Garden in the "blues" spot of the show.
Near the midpoint of the evening, Winwood performed a stunning version of "Georgia On My Mind", accompanying himself on Hammond B3. The format of the show changed a bit as Clapton was accompanied on "Driftin'", a number he has been performing regularly on his solo tours. One fan commented that his acoustic guitar skills have grown far beyond those he demonstrated on his blockbuster 1992 live CD, "Unplugged". This part of the show also contained the most surprises. Both Winwood and Clapton picked up Martin EC Model acoustics for "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out", "Layla" which featured a closing solo from Winwood, and a gorgeous version of "Can't Find My Way Home."
They closed out the main part of the show with powerful performances of "Little Wing", "Voodoo Chile," and "Cocaine" before coming out for the encore, "Dear Mr. Fantasy". After their final bows, the crowd continued to cheer. They certainly left the New Jersey audience wanting more.
Throughout the evening, Clapton played his stratocaster like a man possessed and Winwood wasn't far behind in the guitar solo department. A simply outstanding concert all the way around and definitely one of the "must see" shows of the summer.
The next stop is the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on Friday 12 June, followed by the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday 13 June. The tour wraps 30 June in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl. There is no support act for the tour.
Eric Clapton's and Steve Winwood's DVD, "Live From Madison Square Garden" debuted at Number 1 on the DVD charts when it was released on 19 May. The double CD of the same name debuted at Number 14 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart.
Check out what fans who were there have to say about the show in the whereseric.com Tour Section.
Clapton / Winwood Set List - 10 June 2009
Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ
01. Had To Cry Today
02. Low Down
03. After Midnight
04. Sleeping In The Ground
05. Presence Of The Lord
07. Well Alright
08. Tough Luck Blues
09. Tell The Truth
10. Pearly Queen
11. No Face, No Name, No Number
12. Forever Man
13. Georgia On My Mind - Steve Winwood solo
14. Driftin' - acoustic
15. Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
16. Layla - acoustic version
17. Can't Find My Way Home
18. Split Decision
19. Little Wing
20. Voodoo Chile
22. Dear Mr. Fantasy
Eric Clapton - guitar, vocals
Steve Winwood - vocals, Hammond B3, guitar
Chris Stainton - keyboards
Willie Weeks - bass
Abe Laboriel, Jr. - drums
Michelle John - backing vocals
Sharon White - backing vocals
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