Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Andy Fairweather Low – guitar / vocals
Chris Stainton– keyboards
Tim Carmon – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Steve Gadd – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
01. Going Down Slow
02. Anything For Your Love
03. Key To The Highway
04. Old Love
05. Hoochie Coochie Man
06. I Shot The Sheriff
08. Lay Down Sally
09. Not Dark Yet
10. Anytime For You
11. Somewhere Over The Rainbow
13. Little Queen of Spades
14. Before You Accuse Me
15. Wonderful Tonight
18. Crossroads (encore)
Eric Clapton opened his Spring 2009 Tour in Dublin, Ireland. The set list including some surprising song choices, including "Anything For Your Love," "Not Dark Yet," and "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." This solo tour would end 20 days later in London at the Royal Albert Hall.
Review by Nadja T / Bonau, Switzerland
Highlights for me were "Old Love," "Badge," "Before Your Accuse Me," "Little Queen of Spades" (the best of them) and "Cocaine."
"Going Down Slow" was a laid back start with a good beat and EC soloing and finishing strong. After a mellow surprise of "Anything For Your Love" came "Key To The Highway" with solos from everyone. Then came the first highlight, "Old Love". Except for Tim Carmon's high-pitched fiddling the song was fantastic. "Hoochie Coochie Man" saw Andy Fairweather Low and Chris's soloing and EC pointing to himself to have another solo. Next saw the return of "I Shot The Sheriff" with the high voiced chorous by the girls. EC's solos were great, favoring the frets above the 10th.
To quiet everything down, things were arranged for the sit-down section with EC playing exclusively a Gibson for all 5 songs. Starting with Driftin' (EC, Willy Weeks and Steve Gadd) and leading into a surprise "Lay Down Sally". Next came a Bob Dylan song, "Not Dark Yet", a surprise and not recognized by many. Then came an old Big Maceo song "Anything For You" from 1941/1942. Finishing the sit-down was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", a song not heard in many years.
The show continued with another highlight, "Badge". Next came "Little Queen of Spades"; while this song has seen many performances over the last several tours, EC made this version his very own. He took 3 extended powerful solos with only Chris also playing one. EC simply ruled. A powerful full blown electric version of "Before You Accuse Me" with plenty soloing of everyone followed. "Wonderful Tonight" was probably one of the shortest versions I've ever heard and got the biggest audience reaction. "Layla" came next with EC starting it without a hitch and AFL playing some of the lead licks. The extremely loud version of "Cocaine" was very well done with a twist - AFL's wah-wah use!! After the encore "Crossroads" and bowing to the audience, EC and the band left the stage.
Review by Mervyn Magee / Belfast
I spent most of the drive back to Belfast last night after my 23rd Eric gig mulling over what was quite a set list laced with surprises. It was very refreshing after last year's show at Malahide with Eric and his band on top form despite it being the opening show of the tour. No rustiness here! Great to see Steve Gadd back on drums and Chris Stainton was a man possessed on electric piano. Tim Carmon also shone throughout but the star was without doubt the Legend that Eric Clapton is.
A real laid back opening was blown open with a welcome return to the set list of "Old Love" with Eric producing the first real stunning solos of the night. This was a clear indication of what was to come - the now customary blistering solos of "I Shot the Sheriff" soon followed. The undoubted highlight of the sit-down set was the incredible inclusion of Dylan’s "Not Dark Yet" - better than the original by a mile! "Little Queen of Spades" has now become a second half standard highlight before Eric launched into the crowd favourite "Wonderful Tonight". Of course, "Layla" linked straight into "Cocaine" to finish the set with a superb "Crossroads" finishing off the encore.
I only wish Eric would play more than one encore tune as did the large appreciative Dublin audience, but at 2 hours long we shouldn't really complain. Only one main disappointment in the night was the poor sound quality in the upper tier of the O2, I only really appreciated this when I moved down to a lower tier towards the end of the show. O2 please take note! Eric fans in England are in for a major treat as he heads to Liverpool, Manchester and his residency at RAH at which I hope to get to show number 24!
Review by Ian Finlayson / Dublin
WOW!! Amazing Show! After attending the Summer 2008 concert in Malahide Castle which unfortunately wasn't the best due to outdoor acoustics, lots of rain, lots of travelling and faulty sound equipment etc, I was really hoping that Eric's first concert since the Point Depot changed to the New O2 would be one to remember. It didn't disappoint!!!
I had been closely watching the setlists on whereseric.com as I had not liked Eric's choice of setlist for 2008. This was my 5th EC Concert now (since 1991) and I didn't know what to expect for the setlist and since this was the first show of the tour, I had nothing to compare it to on this website.
Eric re-adjusted his band a bit and it really paid off. Great to see Andy Fairweather Low and Steve Gadd making a return. Tim Carmon played some amazing lead synth solos which really added an extra dimension to some of the songs. Although I quite like Willie Weeks on Bass, I can't help but think that Nathan East would have really completed the band as I think he is the best Bass player for Eric Clapton.
I was delighted to see that the setlist had changed from the "461 Ocean Boulevard themed" setlists of recent memory. This setlist definitely had a "Journeyman / One More Car" feel to it. I was very surprised to hear "Anything For Your Love", I thought it worked quite well and sounded great live. But for me, definitely the song of the night was "Old Love." Eric played an incredible solo with Tim Carmon also adding an amazing synth solo after Eric. I also particularly enjoyed hearing Eric play "Lay Down Sally" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".
I was surprised that he didn't play any songs with his Martin guitars, instead he played the Gibson semi-acoustic guitar for a number of songs, the most notable being "Drifting." I thought the version Eric played was fantastic, he was so delicate and pure with his playing that the hairs were standing on the back of my neck listening to this version.
Great to hear "Badge" added back into the set. Andy played an amazing solo at the end of "Cocaine" making great use of the Wah-Wah pedal, I really enjoyed that part! The rest of the show was equally amazing and I thought the new venue was great too!
Would have loved to hear "Pretending" and "Running On Faith" in the set but then again I would be here all night writing what I would love to hear etc. Overall a fantastic show! I think anyone in England with tickets for shows over the next few weeks are in for a treat!!
Excellent work Eric and thanks for the great show, hope to see you back in Ireland again real soon!
Review by Jon O'Rourke / Belfast
When I was 17 years old, I took the slowest bus from Belfast to Dublin, to see Eric Clapton for the first time. It was at the Point Theatre, on the bank of the River Liffey, in the days when you could get right up to the stage, and look the musicians straight in the eye. That day I stood three feet away from the man who influenced me to pick up the guitar and become immersed in the blues. It was almost a religious experience.
Seventeen years on, I took my car. The Point Theatre is now called the O2 and you have to sit down to watch the gig. But one thing hasn’t changed and that's Eric Clapton’s ability to make me sit still as a statue, mouth agape, eyes moist with emotion, as I watch the most sublime blues playing I have ever witnessed.
Eric last played Dublin in June 2008 at Malahide Castle. Yes, there were moans about the weather and the sound problems and the PA suffering from the rain and seemingly shorting out during the solo on "Layla". But if you go to an outdoor gig in Ireland, this is what you must expect. This is why we are renowned for growing root vegetables and not vinyards.
This time, we are all indoors, during what was admittedly the best weather of the year so far, and I for one was itching to see what was going to happen. I just didn’t expect to see Eric absolutely throttling the neck of his Grigio Silverstone Stratocaster, bending strings so far through the octave range that I began to wonder if Ernie Ball had sent him a batch of elastic ten gauge slinkys, instead of the usual steel ones. And it wasn't just that he was bending the strings, it was as if he was trying to invent new notes with them.
As I sat in the fourth row from the stage and to the right, I recalled that first time I saw Eric at this venue. He was wearing a pastel coloured suit, had long bleached blonde hair and he smoked his way through what must have been a twenty pack of Rothmans, which encouraged the crowd to throw cigarettes onto the stage for him. He swaggered and posed his way peacock-like through two hours of tremendous playing. This time, in front of me was a very plain back drop of black drapes, with some simple lighting, framing the view of the band’s gear. Then a 64 years old bespectacled man wearing a pair of ripped jeans and a grey sleeveless shirt walked on stage. Could have been anyone really. Except this 64 year old gent was also wearing a Fender Stratocaster, attached to his body by a tan reptile-skin strap. A thunderous bellow filled the theatre as thousands of voices yelled in unison. It was EC. Malahide's gremlins were obviously long forgotten.
Then followed Andy Fairweather Low, Steve Gadd, Tim Carmon, Chris Stainton and Willy Weeks. This was THE Eric Clapton band. These musicians on one stage would probably have the power to lift the roof off the building. Add Sharon White and Michelle John into that mix and you have arguably the best live touring Clapton band in history.
EC strode to the mic, beamed a smile and said "Hello Dublin" and started playing the opening chords of "Goin' Down Slow", an unusual number to start with, a little more laid back than the beginning of his last tour, when he opened at the SECC in Glasgow with a raucous "Pretending" from Journeyman. But as EC puts it in his personal message in the rather excellent tour programme, "please sit back and relax, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I know I am going to..."
Then came something a bit left field, and I was thrilled. "Anything For Your Love" from Journeyman. You could see a few fair weather fans looking puzzled, perhaps thinking it was a new song, but those in the know, and there were quite a few, relished hearing this album track played live, especially as Eric tore into a solo that just set the tone for the rest of the night. Long notes bent almost beyond recognition wailing out of his 57 Re-issue Tweed amp. And he had only just started.
Then came a fast paced "Key To the Highway" with its ususal 12-bar urgency, all musicians getting a chance to shine a little. The Journeyman album was dipped into again for another live fan favourite, "Old Love", again, played sweetly in some parts and with huge balls in other parts. EC was in serious form and all over the fretboard, fingers dancing from fat chords to rapid licks with yet another pitch-crushing bent note somewhere in the middle. I guessed there were dogs howling all over Dublin.
"Hoochie Coochie Man" was a masterpiece, with the ceiling spotlights on full blast, bright enough to blind you, but not if you were too busy watching EC doing his thing, his voice as strong as ever, with such a great range. The last song of part one of the gig was a splendid version of "I Shot The Sherriff", with Sharon White and Michelle John beautifully replicating Bob Marley's higher pitched version of the lyrics "but I did not shoot no deputy" as a harmony over EC's voice. And yes, the Strat got another bludgeoning courtesy of Mr Clapton, who seemed hell bent on breaking a string, or three.
Part two of the set was all sitting down and what a contrast. Armed with what I am pretty sure was a blonde Gibson Byrdland, he played very subtle versions of "Driftin'" and another surprise, "Lay Down Sally". But it was the next song that pretty much threw everyone. An absolutely beautifully played, and heartfelt version of Bob Dylan's "Not Dark Yet". You could have heard a pin drop. The "semi-accoustic" set continued with "Anytime for You" (Maceo Merriweather) and One More Car One More Rider tour favourite, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", with the crowd struggling to match the final high note.
Then it was strat throttling time all over again. The opening notes of "Badge" sent the crowd daft, and it was the EC version, with "Where is my badge?" sung at the end, and not the Cream version, proof that EC can muck about with his own songs and not break them. "Little Queen Of Spadesâ€ turned out to be the target of Eric's biggest barrage of fire-fingered licks and string bends. It was just awesome to the point of unbelieveable. Is this man really 64? And this continued through another Journeyman favourite, "Before You Accuse Me". Lover's favourite, "Wonderful Tonight" never disappoints and it's kind of the song that let's the audience know that the show's nearly over but you haven't seen the half of it yet, because straight after that, it was "Layla", which merges with "Cocaine", played with another ten tonnes of grit to get those strings bent beyond anything deemed reasonable.
Off the band went behind the stage were Eric obviously replaced a battery in his bionic left hand. And then it was Encore time. "Crossroads". A half Cream / All Eric version that got the crowd to their feet, and kept them there, no matter what the Fun Police said to make them sit down again.
This was indeed an absolutely brilliant show from EC, but you could tell that he was wearing more comfortable shoes in the form of Gadd, Carmon, Fairweather Low, Stainton and Weeks. Carmon and Fairweather Low just boggled the mind, their keyboard skills making up half of one of the tightest EC touring bands I have seen in many years. Andy Fairweather Low at one point played a Wah Wah solo that was so filthy I thought someone was going to have to calm him down with a nice cup of cocoa. He looked like he had turned into a twenty year old who had just discovered what a Wah Wah pedal was for.
As far as EC's playing goes, the old saying still holds true. He can say everything he wants, standing there with his eyes closed, by playing maybe half a dozen notes, and he doesn't even need to play them very fast. And with that, he'll probably make you cry, or at least plant a lump in your throat. He isn't just a guitar player. He isn't just a blues player. Right now he is THE blues guitar player and if this is just the start "God" only knows what the Albert Hall shows will be like.
Review by Norrie Fleming / Scotland
We went to Dublin to see Eric at the O2, which is a very nice venue indeed. I was wondering if the set list was going to be similar to his winter tour but it turned out there were a few changes to make it interesting and likewise there were band changes. Andy Fairweather Low returned on guitar, Chris Stainton and Tim Carmon on keyboards, Willie Weeks on the bass and Steve Gadd on drums. Michelle John and Sharon White provided backing vocals. A good tight group!
A full house heard Eric and the band begin with Going Down Slow, a bit low key but a nice arrangement to start the gig. Anything For Your Love, Key To The Highway (a favourite of mine), Old Love and Hoochie Coochie Man followed. Then it was I Shot The Sheriff, which I was hoping to hear because I reckon I heard the best ever solos from him on this song at the last Glasgow gig. It was good but not better. Driftin' was next then Lay Down Sally - everyone seemed to enjoy this. Not Dark Yet and Anytime For You were a pleasant surprise, but I don't get why Somewhere Over The Rainbow was on the list. I heard him do this at the Albert Hall a few years back and I asked at the time where does this one come from? (My wife thinks it's family-related). It's nicely produced, but I'd much rather hear a Cream or Dominos song anytime.
Anyway, the great stalwarts were next i.e., Badge, Little Queen of Spades, Before You Accuse Me, Wonderful Tonight (don't know if Eric likes playing this but the crowd loves it), Layla and Cocaine. The encore was Crossroads which was a highlight too. We had a thoroughly enjoyable night with Eric and his band, who all played great solos throughout the show.
The support band were The Arc Angels. It was good to see Doyle Bramhall again. As good as they were, I prefer him playing along with Clapton.