Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Andy Fairweather Low – guitar / vocals
Billy Preston – hammond organ
David Sancious – keyboards / guitar / vocals
Nathan East – bass / vocals
Steve Gadd – drums
Jimmie Vaughan - guitar *
01. Key To The Highway
03. Got You On My Mind
04. Tears In Heaven
05. Bell Bottom Blues
06. Change The World
07. My Father's Eyes
08. River Of Tears
09. Going Down Slow
10. She's Gone
11. I Want A Little Girl
12. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
13. Travelin’ Light
14. Hoochie Coochie Man *
15. Five Long Years *
16. Cocaine *
17. Wonderful Tonight *
19. Sunshine Of Your Love (encore)
20. Somewhere Over The Rainbow (encore)
The venue was previously known as the Houston Summit.
Review by Boyd Bluestein
With hopes of "stumbling into EC" with John Mayall the night before at a small, but notorious club named Fitzgerald's, we were primed. No, EC didn't make out to jam on his off night between San Antonio and Houston, but we were completely disappointed. None other than Houston's own Billy Gibbons (aka: The Reverend Willie G) made it in late to cap a great show by the legend and his band. Backstage afterwards was a gas, but no EC. We left with hopes, but no confirmation, that Mayall, who was off on Monday night, would be asked to join Clapton on the following night.
As usual EC is the Standard Bearer for all who follow. In the cozy confines of the Compaq Center (Concert Seating, 12,500), there was great anticipation throughout the incredibly diverse crowd (ages 20 to at least 75; no kidding, I met a 75 year old man discussing the Houston show with his 50-something son in a Chinese restaurant in Port Arthur, Texas (90 miles from Houston) where I was dining Tuesday evening, the 15th). Eric sauntered out on stage by himself, sat down with an acoustic guitar, and set the tone with a captivating rendition of Key to the Highway. Afterwards, his band mates for the evening (Billy Preston, Andy Fairweather-Low, Steve Gadd, Nathan East, and David Sancious) joined him for more acoustic guitar, lightly pumping Hammond, brushes, soft bass, and piano. Highlights, of this first third of the show included the beautiful, yet poignant Tears From Heaven, the reminiscently rousing Bell Bottom Blues, and finished with an intensely moving version of Change the World. The solos by EC (of course), along with Billy Preston and David Sancious were all incredibly inspired. Especially notable was the "distorted Pipes" that David Sancious was able to attain from his keys by placing a device in his mouth connected by an air hose to his instrument. It produced a sound that was uniquely somewhere between a harmonica, a saxophone, and a bagpipe.
With the crowd finely tuned in, the band plugged in completely and began the ascent to the next level. My Father's Eyes ripped the roof of the joint, and She's Gone followed that "nineties Cream fuzz". The Ray Charles number, "Little Girl" was also a treat. When your in Houston, you never know who might "drop in". Stage Right: Black on Black, Slicked Back Hair, Pointy Boots, and a Twangy Telecaster! None other than Jimmie Vaughan! Eric and Jimmie Ray traded licks on great versions of Hoochie Koochie Man and Have You Ever Been Mistreated. And then a semi-slowed, blues-cooked version of Cocaine with Eric and Andy playing rhythm while Jimmie ripped the all the leads in true Texas twangy finger-picking style! Jimmie stepped back and EC showed the way on Wonderful Tonight with crystal clear licks and inspired vocals, and their set was complete. As JV left the stage, EC paid tribute by shouting his name over the crowd no less than five times!
Wrapping this show as others on the tour, Layla was followed by encore tunes Sunshine of Your Love and the most recorded tune of the twentieth century, Somewhere Over The Rainbow. By the reaction of the crowd and the Band as they gathered together front stage to acknowledge the seventh and final standing ovation of the night, it appeared that all had made it over in pleasing fashion!
Review by Bill Main
It was with a great deal of anticipation that I entered the Compaq Center in Houston, Texas to see my third EC show in five days. The Compaq Center is the old Houston Summit, and it is a small arena. Also, I had managed to get seats on the floor for this show. My brother Roger and I took our seats and were very pleasantly surprised to find we were only about 75 feet from the stage. We later learned we were seated next to the tunnel the performers and special guest use to enter the arena.
Once again Doyle Bramhall II was the opening act. My brother seemed to enjoy it, much as I had the first night, but I will admit I was just waiting for the set to end so I could hear The Man play again.
EC's unplugged set still contained the same songs played during the first two Texas concerts. Although there were no surprises in the set list, EC played very well, and the numbers sounded wonderful. Just before Clapton walked on stage, an arena staff member escorted a couple from the tunnel by our seats to a spot somewhere near the mixing board. I was surprised to see that the man was Dusty Hill, bass player for ZZ Top. From my left, I heard another fan say they had just seen Billy Gibbons, the guitar player for ZZ Top, enter the arena as well. ZZ Top is legendary in Texas, and the presence of those band members helped set the tone for the evening. Clapton's unplugged set once again consisted of "Key To The Highway", a very up tempo rendition of "Reptile", "Got You On My Mind", "Tears In Heaven", "Bell Bottom Blues", and "Change The World". The performance was only slightly blemished by a section of middle-aged Texas beauties sitting behind my brother and I, who insisted on squealing and screeching like 14 year old teeny boppers during "Tears In Heaven" and "Bell Bottom Blues". They were finally quieted by other fans sitting by us who asked them to enjoy the show, but please hold the noise down until the songs were completed. I know everyone paid for a ticket, and because of the cost of those tickets has a right to fully enjoy the show, but a little consideration for others can go a long way.
Once again, the guitar intro For "My Father's Eyes" done by Clapton on his custom Stratocaster seemed to send a current of electricity through the Compaq Center crowd. The mood was only enhanced by the beautiful version of "River Of Tears" which followed. Eric's guitar bubbled out solos which sometimes sounded as mournful as a wailing siren, and at other times as soft and sad as a sobbing child. It was absolutely beautiful and the emotion was intense. "Going Down Slow" gave the crowd a chance to rest before the band tore into a pounding version of "She's Gone". I've said it before and I'll repeat it here, this song is a new "Clapton Classic"! Clapton ripped through the solos to the delight of everyone in the arena. Being a former guitar player, these are the parts of the show I treasure- watching the man do his thing. I was thrilled watching EC soar during his solos with Derek & the Dominoes at the Fillmore in 1970, and I still enjoy watching his guitar work to this day.
The show continued with "I Want A Little Girl" and "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight". The latter brought a brief reprise of the screeching from the already mentioned group of women, but several "shsssshes" from those near them helped to quiet them again. However, "Travelin' Light" brought the crowd almost to its feet. This version of this song was the best I had seen in all of the shows. Clapton seemed to be intent on tearing the song up with his guitar work. I wondered why his intensity was at the level it was, until I noticed a figure entering the right side of stage from the darkness. I was probably one of the first in the crowd to know who that person was. I live in Austin, Texas and have seen this person perform on numerous occasions. I was also present at the Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute concert at the Austin City Music Hall almost six years ago to the day on May 12, 1995 when this person played with Eric, Buddy Guy, and Robert Cray to honor his brother. Jimmy Vaughan had plugged his Stratocaster in, and when the lights came up during the opening chords of "Hoochie Coochie Man", the crowd roared with surprise when Jimmy was visible to all playing with the band. Jimmy took the first solo in the song, and Eric finished it with an inspired solo of his own. But the truly wonderful moments were generated by the two blues guitarists during the call- and-response solos in the next number, "Five Long Years". This song was substituted for "Have You Ever Loved A Woman?" which EC played in San Antonio two nights prior, and was absolutely wonderful. Clapton and Vaughan did some extended soloing, and at one point, were facing each other across the stage, exchanging riffs to the obvious delight of both guitarists. What amazed me was that Jimmy stayed on stage and played on "Cocaine" and "Wonderful Tonight". Although he appeared to be a bit uncomfortable, Jimmy took the solo in "Cocaine" and played very beautifully along with Eric on "Wonderful Tonight". However, "Layla" which was next, was a different story. Jimmy began to unplug, and Eric seemed to be trying to convince him to stay. Maybe Jimmy was just uncomfortable playing rock and not blues, or maybe he just felt this song belonged to Eric. Whatever the reason, he kept shaking his head "No" and left the stage. The version of "Layla" played that night was the best of the three shows I'd seen. David Sancious left his keyboard, strapped on a Stratocaster, and made it a three guitar onslaught. The crowd went wild and the band rewarded them with a superlative effort, ripping through the song with tremendous feeling.
Layla's finish brought a thunderous applause from the crowd. Several women had made it to the stage and handed Eric bouquets of red roses. EC had a huge grin on his face and appeared to be in very high spirits while waving to the enthusiastic crowd. Eric finished this almost perfect show with a house rocking version of "Sunshine Of Your Love" and the beautiful "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".
These shows were number 55, 56, and 57 for me, and thankfully, they were all wonderful. I am so pleased to see Eric happy, tanned, and healthy, and to see he is changing his set list from show to show. It is also obvious that there will be special guests joining him throughout this tour. My advice to all Americans reading these reviews- get a ticket now to see him when he plays near you! I am already planning to take off to New Orleans tomorrow to see him there. I'll buy a ticket from someone outside the arena. However, someone else can do that review. I'm sure y'all are tired of hearing me.
Texas Blood (EC Is Here – DJ Copy 77/78 – 2 CD)