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11 May 2006 - Eric Clapton & His Band

Location

National Exhibition Centre Birmingham
United Kingdom
GB
Band Lineup: 

Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Doyle Bramhall II – guitar / vocals
Derek Trucks – guitar
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Tim Carmon – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Steve Jordan – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
The Kick Horns (Simon Clarke – baritone saxophone, Roddy Lorimer – trumpet, Tim Sanders – tenor saxophone)

Support: 
Robert Cray Band
Special Guest: 

 

Set List: 

01. Pretending
02. So Tired
03. Got To Get Better In A Little While
04. Lost And Found
05. I Shot The Sheriff
06. Let It Rain
07. Back Home
08. I Am Yours
09. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
10. Milkcow’s Calf Blues
11. Running On Faith
12. After Midnight
13. Little Queen Of Spades
14. Everybody Oughta Make A Change
15. Motherless Children
16. Wonderful Tonight
17. Layla
18. Cocaine
19. Crossroads (encore)

Show Notes: 

 

Fan Reviews: 

Review by Mikey Mike / Surrey, England
When Eric is on tour, for the last few years I've preferred to see him at provincial dates as opposed to the Royal Albert Hall. It's not that the Albert isn't cozy and intimate and the sound, no matter where you sit, is great. It's not the fan's either. They're as enthusiastic as they can be.

It's that although the audience are 80% genuine, the other 20% are corporate or media and just not as appreciative. Those that have been there can all tell tales of popping champagne corks mid-solo or braying laughter or talking at crucial points. Don't get me wrong, a show is to be enjoyed-anyone who has been to MSG will bear witness that the audience never stop talking, getting up, going back etc. but that doesn't seem to detract from the whole experience. But with the acoustics that the hall has, EVERYTHING can be heard. So that's my slant on the UK anyway. They seem to enjoy the show more in 'the sticks' and most artists will respond to a good audience. The same goes for Europe. I've been extolling the virtues of seeing EC in Europe for a long time and those that have seen him especially in France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Holland and Belgium will bear witness to the fact that the overall feel during a Euro date is close to euphoria.

If EC tours again, don't do the RAH but travel across Europe and at the same time enjoy the culture each country brings.

Well, after Le Cannet I was going to Manchester but couldn't make it (sorry Mal) but scored a last minute fabulous seat for the NEC in Birmingham overlooking the stage (thanks, Steve) and saw another fine show. There's been some 'tweaking' of the set list but if he kept it as he played that night (with a few variations for guests etc) I wouldn't be too unhappy. The thought that he would radically change the set each night (think Springsteen) scares me. What if he played some rare, one-off gem and we never got to hear it? Suffering Succotash!

He's now got the full stage show (torn curtains at the back and a flashing light screen running across the back of the stage-similar to the Cream shows but different light effects). His playing is as enthusiastic and fervent as ever and although the band are given ample opportunity to solo, when it comes to the crunch, the final solo is always his-there may be an element of 'OK guys, nice try, now here's something special'. There were stand out performances by him on 'Pretending', 'Sheriff', 'Little Queen of Spades', 'Lost and Found' and 'Sheriff'. There was an extended acoustic set which I am now really enjoying. Even 'Wonderful Tonight' was short and very sweet.

It's the first time for years that I've actually enjoyed it. He seems to have reverted to playing songs similar to the original version with 'After Midnight' sounding like he had recorded it in 1970 (horns et al), 'I am Yours' was sensitive and faithful to the album version as was 'Layla' (excellent slide by Derek) and even 'Sheriff' has a real reggae feel to it (more so than it has been for years). Full credit to the band with Steve Jordan and Willie Weeks being totally immense. Derek is a fabulous slide player and Doyle is good but still a luxury to my mind, as is Tim. The BV's of Sharon and Michelle are performed beautifully (I don't care what they are wearing) and The Kick Horns add another dimension to a lot of songs and finally Chris performs solidly as ever on keys.
Band:9/10. Set List:10/10. Performance:9/10.

And still no appearance by Robert Cray on stage with EC for a scintillating Blues! Have they fallen out and are not talking? I think we should be told! I'm sure, however, that in time they will jam.

If you're in two minds about going and had reservations about the band/set list/if the girls are wearing the right clothes etc...don't. This is a great tour and I haven't enjoyed one as much for years. This could easily be his Swan Song and with his growing family he may decide to stop touring altogether and could be going out with a bang. Enjoy it while you can.

Review by Peter Cross

Maybe because 2004's outing was so rewarding, my level of anticipation wasn't as great as I'd have expected this time round, despite the intriguing prospect of how Derek Trucks might stir things up. Robert Cray was a welcome opener, even though his music doesn't seem to change much from song to song, or indeed over his career. But his distinctive tone and attack, firm grooves and his good, dry sense of humour helped create a pleasant, if not excited atmosphere.

I'm pleased to report I eventually emerged from the NEC barn nicely satisfied, simply because there was so much good guitar playing, good singing from EC and (when he could be heard) good piano playing from Chris Stainton - all to a set list that was imaginative enough to avoid most of the cries of "oh, here we go again" that have sprinkled the last 20 years.

The second keyboard enhanced "Running On Faith" with a gospel tinge and the three horns enhanced another of the acoustic numbers but otherwise these ably played instruments just created a mush of sound with the over-loud drums and bass. If you literally can't distinguish a single note, why bother? These limitations fortunately didn't spoil the night but were a bit frustrating because you felt they were within the scope of control. Maybe they will be dealt with as the tour progresses. The girls on, the other hand, were fine and the excellent camerawork largely mitigated the problem of them being half hidden from my position near the middle of the front block.

The brief nod (off) to "Wonderful Tonight" was probably worth it because of the thousands who appreciate this song, which nowadays acts like a magnet raised in front of all the mobile phones in the arena.

All the Dominos songs were a treat, especially those new on display. We can't have a credible Derek & The Dominos reunion but with a bit of imagination, how about a limited tour, or event, to celebrate that era, perhaps combined with material from Blind Faith and Delaney & Bonnie? Another thought that came to mind: "young" Derek Trucks is older than the "other" Derek and Duane Allman were when they created their magic for the Layla sessions... picture it...

The highlight of the evening for me (pushed hard by "Queen Of Spades") was "Oughta Change". In the rapid call and response between Eric and Derek's slide work, we caught a glimpse of the potential for thrilling interaction when musicians spontaneously communicate in their chosen language from somewhere deep within. For the most part, however, the two additional guitars were used to share out the lead role and took a succession of brief and very orderly turns in the spotlight. Derek may be extremely undemonstrative by nature but in his tenure with the Allman Brothers Band he has proved capable of more adventurous musical adventures, contributions and challenges. And you suspect Doyle has a lot in reserve too. Give 'em a longer leash, Eric, invite them to poke you a bit! But thanks for the evening, it was great.

Review by Matt Shirley / Nottinghamshire
Let me start by saying Wow, Eric is playing really good and I am really glad to see him having fun and enjoying being there. The set list is Great, it was changed a little again for the third nigh the only song different though as far as I know was Let it Rain substituted Anyday. I guess he is trying to see what set is better before he gets to the Albert Hall if you ask me he should bang them all in there (always been greedy when it comes to listening to Eric) . For those interested in the guitar stuff like me he seems to be using a pair of new custom shop Pewter strats with the noiseless pics, I couldn't tell if he had his Fender twins or the cornwells I guess someone will find out. The energy of the hole band was fantastic and Eric seemed to get a real buzz from it, they absolutely lunch into Pretending and what a version of After midnight It was great to hear Got to get better in a little while it was one of my favourites from the last tour and it still rocks. I thought the tracks from Back home sounded good live, I am hoping that in the next two shows he does One day , does anyone know if these shows are being recorded that was the only disappointment about the 04 tour that they hadn't released a live DVD and CD. I have 2 more shows to look forward to Sheffield and my home town of Nottingham.

Just a note to people who are sending in reviews, I don't understand how people can go and watch Eric and say the next day oh well I have seen him play better....... even if he is tired and what do you expect the guy is 61 and has 3 baby girls. The man is the best even on a tired day!!!!

Review by Andy Balcam / Newbury
Had a great time at Eric's show at Birmingham's NEC last night. We were sitting in the front row but off to the side by the bins and the compost heap. It wasn't too bad though as we had an uninterrupted view and were right in front of part of the PA which gave us a good mix.

The sound was pretty solid right from the off, although there is a lot going on with 3 guitars, 2 keyboards and a 3-piece brass section jockeying for position over the rock-solid rhythm section. Eric's voice was clear if a little low in the mix as was Derek's guitar. Eric's guitar was loud and clear though and he was in fine form.

The set on this tour is outstanding and the ideally suited to the 3-pronged guitar assault. The evening rattles along at a pretty relentless pace with only the sit-down set for a breather. The Dominoes and early EC numbers give the wonderful Derek Trucks an excellent framework to astonish the assembled punterage with his jaw-dropping slide. My friend and I have been following his work since he joined the Allman Brothers in 2001 and he just gets better. Check out any of the Allman Brothers Instant Live releases from the last couple of years or Derek's own brilliant new album Songlines for more evidence of his sublime talent.

In response to the upstart Trucks' deadly slide EC rose to the occasion with some blistering work of his own, most notably in Sheriff but frankly in virtually every other number as well. In contrast we were a little disappointed by Doyle who seemed uninterested when his solo spots came around. In his defence though I guess he needed to play something different to the other two's dazzling lead and he certainly did that.

So a great night then. I noticed some audience mics near us pointing out at the crowd so I'm hoping there will be a live CD and DVD of the tour. I think it warrants an official live release because of the great mix of songs and the great new line-up. If they were recording last night's show though they'll have to overdub and enthusiastic crowd response and fix the end of Midnight which Eric made right horlicks of!

Review by Darryl Lane / Stafford, England
Nearly twenty years ago I saw Robert Cray support Eric at the NEC Birmingham during the short 'August' tour in 1986. 'Young Bob' was good then and he is even better now. 'Phone Booth','Time Takes Two' and and 'Poor Johnny' from his latest album 'Twenty' were particularly noteworthy.

It was a full house at the venue. But as this was a Birmingham bunch, excitement was kept to a minimum. Gone are the days when the crowd rushes the stage to the majestic chords of 'Layla'. No we remain seated for fear that any sudden movement may cause an injury. The cigarette lighters do not sway during 'Wonderful Tonight'. We've all stopped smoking, like Eric, and besides there are health and safety issues.

At last Slowhand is recognising the vast body of work he has produced. During certain parts of the 80s and 90s he gave the crowd what he thought they wanted to hear. Well, we wanted 'Motherless Children' 'I am Yours' and other long forgotten classics, and now we are getting them.

All this really started during the 2004 tour and I'm glad to see it continue. And Eric is pushing himself with a young band. True, he shares the guitar duties, but he's obviously enjoying playing with other guitarists up there on stage and it makes a better show. He played well, as always, and looked very healthy. No coconut tree climbing for him!

I did enjoy Steve Jordan on drums. He's a proper tub thumper, very energenic. Derek Trucks..wow..a real domino playing the Duane Allman parts, especially wonderful on 'I am Yours'.

A great night, though I'd suggest Eric gets a stand up comedian as a warm-up man! The crowd needed something to shift them out of their mid week lethargy. Poor El has the stage craft of a garden gnome, audience interaction has never been his strong point. I wonder if that bloke who introduces James Brown is free?

'Laydeeezz an Genulmann, the greatest guitarist in the world..the one...the only...Mr Slowhand himself...Eeeeerrric Clapton!

Review by John Shaw
I've watched Eric many times (first time 1966), I've not seen him as relaxed & happy to be on stage since the 86 tour, it was a joy to witness last night, excellent band all taking a share of the spotlight, he played tracks I've not heard on stage for years & gave them all a new twist, only 1 Cream type song "Crossroads" which a shame, "Sunshine Of Your Love & White Room" would have been nice but you can't have it all, there are always too many songs & not enough time.

Review by Roger Hack/ Banbury
Never my favourite venue to see Eric, but it last night it rocked. Pretending got the evening off to a great start and the sound was good from the beginning.
Brilliant set list with a good mix I was looking forward to Motherless Children and was not disappointed. It was worth the ticket price alone to see & hear, nice also to see Eric dipping into his back catalogue which as the programme reminded us is extensive. Good news is I've got most of it!

This was the first time I've seen Derek Trucks what an exciting slide man. Doyle though seemed a little uncomfortable and lacked the presence we saw on the 2004 tour. Gone were the swashbuckling attacking guitar solo's we saw two years ago even the rakish image was more conservative and quiet. However this was more than compensated for by Steve Jordan on drums, such energy in delivering a solid accompaniment to back up Eric's blistering guitar work. The only thing missing for me last night was White Room which I feel would have really gotten the treatment from this line up which included the impressive Chris Stainton on keyboards.

What was different was the audience, enthusiastic and appreciative as ever but seated throughout. Eric's looking after himself these days but time seems to have taken its toll on the rest of us or perhaps it was just midweek lethargy (already suggested by Darryl Lane).

Must mention Robert Cray who with his band delivered a solid and very enjoyable performance I was disappointed that he didn't join Eric for the encore of Crossroads but it didn't spoil my evening. What could, see you next time around Eric.

Review by Annedore Neumann, MG-Wickrath, Germany
First: never ask an old fan ( since '69 in Bremen ) as me for an unbiassed view -- my husband is surely right when joking that I melt like butter in the sun only hearing EC tuning his guitar..... I agree with the other NEC visitors: we enjoyed a great evening, the setlist was a gorgious summary of the last 40 years, the band played excellent, the young members fit in well. Because of your advance information, I had learned about Derek Truck in a radio feature a few weeks ago, so we expected a talented man --- and he really is ! Willie Weeks and Tim Carmon disappeared a bit in the background, and Steve Jordan works a lot more than solid Steve Gadd.

Well, I'll never get used to see Doyle Bramhall play lefthanded completely "wrong". "Pretending" came again a well-chosen intro, the solo in "Sheriff" caused goosepimples, the songs without transition were a surprise .... and "Crossroads" as extra linked with the memory of the '86 NEC concert's beginning.

Although we had only got seats in the last untiered row, thanks to the big screens and the sitting audience ( very different from MSG and the Bon Jovi-addicts here in Duesseldorf last Saturday ) we didn't miss the RAH view too much.
The programme with the bands' list amused my husband because it is almost the same as I had worked on the last months for my second "Slowhand"-quilt ( does anybody want to see it ??).

I'm going to join EC's concerts here in Cologne and then in Hamburg - and I'm very much looking forward to enjoying two more wonderful evenings.

Review by Keith Beach, Northampton
Just read some of the reviews for this show and i have to agree it was definitly one of the best of the last few years. Had great seats near the front and really enjoyed it, as it appeared did Eric, which is always good to see an artist enjoying their work. Maybe he is really happy in his personal life at the moment and it shows on stage ?

Having seen the set list before hand i was looking forward to Motherless Children and was not dissapointed, and the end of Layla straight into Cocaine was excellent. Pretending was a great opener and it's always good to hear Sherrif. It's always a pleasure to hear Eric play a bit of slide guitar, wish he did it more.

First time i have seen Robert Cray live and he was very good too. It was a shame he didn't come out for an encore on Crossroads but you can't have everything i guess !! Anybody catching the tour further on up the road is in for a treat if the show is as good as this one. If this is the sort of tour he puts together after announcing he was going to retire a while back, then all i can say is keep retiring Eric !!

Official Recording: 

 

Bootleg Recording(s): 

 

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