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. I Shot The Sheriff
07. Lay Down Sally
08. Not Dark Yet
09. Anytime For You
10. Somewhere Over The Rainbow
12. Little Queen of Spades
13. Before You Accuse Me
14. Wonderful Tonight
16. Crossroads (encore)
Review by Mike Sawin / Somewhere around Bushy Park
On his first UK mainland show on this "mini-tour," Eric played a rather lack-lustre show. The newly built Echo Arena is on the site of the temporary structure where John Mayall was joined by Mick Taylor, Chris Barber and Eric in 2003 to celebrate John's 70th birthday. That night, too, Eric wasn't really at his best.
Tonight, Eric ambled on stage at 8:40pm, strapped on his black Strat and began with a rather unusual opener, "Goin' Down Slow". Nice enough playing but no real fireworks.Then came "Anything for your Love". This was not the energy-packed version from Brighton UK 92 but a rather ponderous version that neither thrilled nor excited. Matters got worse with one of the worst sounding "Key to The Highways" I have ever heard. It was like there were 6 musicians but no real band on stage. I know this is early days and only the 2nd date on this tour, but the wealth of experience on stage counted for nothing as they then did a rather threadbare version of "Old Love". Tim's solo was...er...unusual. "It's Blues, Jim, but not as we know it."
Maybe its because I've seen or heard so many shows over the years and hope I know a good 'un from a bad 'un, but it really seemed that the band weren't on the boil tonight. Matters did improve however, with "Sheriff" with a tasty solo and the girls singing just like the "I Three" Marley's backing vocalists.
Then came the sit-down set. Now, I understand Eric's age and everything and he needs to pace himself but, as in Hyde Park 2008, I think he misjudges the mood of the audience. Just as he's getting them excited and building up momentum, he brings it down again. The first half of Hyde Park was, for me, one of his finest live shows - full of energy and excitement and then BANG! gut string time. Don't get me wrong. Eric is a fantastic acoustic player, but "Unplugged" was 17 years ago. He started this section with "Layla" and then that old chestnut "Lay Down Sally". We used to groan about him playing this in the 80s / 90s but actually it was nice to hear again.
Then it was time for the new ones. The Dylan track "Not Dark Yet" didn't really work with Eric singing in his faux-Dylan voice. The next one, "Anytime For You" was pleasant enough and sounded like an out-take from the Nothing But The Blues tour of 1994 / 1995. After that came a really strange song selection "Over The Rainbow". Even stranger, besides the whole of the auditorium singing along with him, it also got the biggest cheer of the night.
Then we had the run-in to the end of the show. "Badge" featured a wrung out solo by Andy (he's a fine rhythm guitarist - why is EC so generous about handing out solos to him?). Then we had "Little Queen of Spades" - nice EC solo, as you would expect and then the obligatory "Before You Accuse Me" (time for retirement, I think). "Wonderful Tonight" started with a real fluffed line by Eric but he made up for it with a pleasnt enough version. The penultimate song was "Cocaine" where, again, Eric pulled his finger out and turned in a workman like version. Finally, the encore was "Crossroads" which also seemed a bit rushed.
Overall it wasn't a bad show, just an unexciting one, playing-wise. His choice of songs was eclectic and with a bit more fine tuning will sound good. I'm expecting bigger and better things in Manchester tomorrow and the upcoming Albert Hall dates.
Review by Paul Dean / Liverpool
I must mention Arc Angels who did a really tight but short opening set, even throwing in a McCartney Track ("Too Many People".)
Eric's first Liverpool Show since his appearance as a guest of John Mayall in July of 03. And oddly enough on the same site. Instead of a huge marquee, it was in the new riverside arena.
Eric and his fine band seemed to really enjoy the occasion. He was very amused with the audience sing-along to "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" as they finished the song off towards the end before Eric got there.
Nice to see Andy back in the band and YES, Andy, we did notice your Welsh Flag on stage. Steve Gadd / Willie Weeks were solid throughout , Chris Stainton / Tim Carmon on keyboards give the band another dimension. Sharon and Michelle - the backing vocalists - also deserve a mention for their contribution to the concert.
We were treated to an amazing triple-shot of acoustic perfection with "Layla", a great hoe-down version of "Lay Down Sally" and one of Bob Dylan's recent classics "Not Dark Yet" (let's hope Eric puts this down in the studio.)
Eric hit the heights on "Queen of Spades" as he did early on in the show with a great arrangement on "Old Love". Older crowd favourites, "Badge", "Before You Accuse Me", and "Wonderful Tonight" all sounded fresh. The band and Eric seemed to be enjoying the performance as much as the Liverpool crowd.
Of course they sent us all home happy with rocking versions of "Cocaine" and "Crossroads". Even the cold wind off the River Mersey couldn't cool us down leaving the arena.
Review by Keith W
I have watched Eric live for the last 25 years. Ok, not a long-time to real fans but, tonight was dire. Fifteen minutes into the gig, I said to my mate "he's just going through the motions here." So unreal! The highlight of the night was Andy Fairweather Low's solo during "Cocaine" Hope tomorrow night in Manchester is an improvment ... can't be any worse!
Review by Darryl Lane
Odd how opinions vary, but I thought he played a diverse set very well. I was close to the front and Eric seemed to be in good spirits and his playing was excellent. About half way through the set he gestured for a medicine tablet or lozenge of some sort and was duly brought something, so he may have been not feeling his best hence the shortened set.
Dylan's Not Dark Yet, was covered with sensitivity and feeling and "Lay Down Sally" as a sit down shuffle strangely worked. It got the crowd going as did the charming "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".
It was different to Hyde Park, but still a good gig.
I'd prefer Doyle Bramhall up there with Eric.Andy's a good sort, a mad professor-look alike now, but he's not a lead guitar player. His solo in "Cocaine" was manic and entertaining, but that's about it.
Its a shame that Woolworths has closed, otherwise Tim Carmon could return his bizarre Fisher Price keyboard. It's not a musical instrument, unless he enjoys making peoples' ears bleed! Eric does indulge him somewhat.
Steve Gadd, Willie Weeks, Chris Stainton, good and solid. Willie got a good groove going most times but never got a solo spot.
I thought it was a good show, the band seemed happy, the audience joined in a bit, the venue was fine, even cushioned seats for us ancients, but if you were on level 5 of the adjacent car park, there was a good chance you'd never see your home again. I bet Eric was back in London while I was still in there!