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)
Robert Cray – guitar / vocals*
02. So Tired
03. Got To Get Better In A Little While
04. Bell Bottom Blues
06. I Shot The Sheriff
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
19. Crossroads (encore)*
Review by Paul Herbert
It had been exactly 1 year and 9 days since I saw Cream at the Royal Albert Hall and it was great to see Eric Clapton come strolling back onto a UK stage. Looking unsurprisingly more relaxed than for the reunion gig, Clapton and the band hit the ground running with the opening number Pretending. After a brief 'Thank you, good evening', the band moved into So Tired, which is proving to be a far better live track than the studio version. With Steve Jordan and Willie Weekes keeping the rhythm engine running, Clapton tore straight into the funky riff of Got To Get Better In A Little While. Clapton hit his first 'real' solo of the evening bringing cheers and a round of applause from the Nottingham audience.
Bell Bottom Blues was a nice surprise to the set and teasingly slowed the pace after the rousing GTGBIALW. Clapton's voice just seems to get better and better with age and you'll struggle to find a more soulful vocal anywhere. After a beautifully played and sung Bell Bottom Blues the crowd showed its appreciation to the opening bars of Anyday . Despite having been to over 50 Clapton concerts since 1988, I'd never heard this played live and was without doubt my own personal highlight of the show.
The three guitarists's combined brilliantly all taking solos and throughout the song, Eric and Doyle complimented each other's vocal styles perfectly. A fiery solo from Clapton closed the number and once again brought gasps and applause from the audience. Ignoring Lee Dickson's offering of a change of Strat, Eric started the reggae intro to Sheriff and then with an embarrassed smile and knowing look had to switch guitar mid-verse, much to the amusement of his band. The solo on Sheriff just built up into a crescendo of sound with Clapton in his own world, head back, eyes closed and right knee lifting sporadically into the air. Doyle Bramall and Derek Trucks looked at each other and just shook their heads and smiled. Wow!!!
Time for a breather, and out came the acoustic guitars for a beautiful version of Back Home comprising of just Eric, Steve and Derek remaining on stage. This really showcased the quality of EC's voice as it echoed around the Arena. Eric looked miles away from Nottingham when Lee Dickson came over with a change of guitar and almost returned to the present with a jump when he saw him standing beside him. The words to Back Home must have really struck a chord with him, even so early into the World tour.
The next song for me, I Am Yours was the low point of the evening. It wasn't performed badly, in fact the bands sound and Clapton's vocal was exquisite. However, despite repeated listens to this track prior to the concert I just do not like the song. For me, Ramlin' On My Mind would have been a far better acoustic inclusion.
The crowd immediately recognised the upbeat intro to Nobody Knows You... from the Unplugged album and began to clap along. This was a great song to close the acoustic set with. The band remained seated but went back to electric instruments and played an extremely loud version of Milkcow's Calf Blues with all three guitarist's playing bottlenecks and again the power and soul of Clapton's voice powered through the huge wall of sound.
Running On Faith played only a handful of times since the Journeyman tour ended the sit-down section of the concert with Derek Trucks playing some amazing slide throughout the track and showcasing his own skills. This was followed by a very up-tempo version of After Midnight with some fabulous backing vocals from Michelle John and Sharon White. Again this number was showcased with a short and sizzling solo from Clapton.
The next track was pure Blues guitar heaven. The Robert Johnson penned Little Queen of Spades played in C. The vibe of this number took me back to Clapton's amazing version of Stormy Monday from the Cream reunion. Hic vocal performance was searing and his playing even more so. Despite the presence of three guitarists, I thought that Doyle was getting far more deserved time in the spotlight than during the 2004 tour and that all three of them seemed happy to let each other let rip and solo. However, despite his 62 years of age, a certain Mr Clapton let everyone know that he was still THE man with an extended blues solo.
Everybody Oughta Make A Change and Motherless Children both followed in quick succesion with some great slide playing by all three guys before the band settled into the home stretch of the show. I don't know how many times I've sat through live performances, bootlegs, DVD's and countless other versions of Wonderful Tonight, Layla and Cocaine but the new band made all three sound fresh and Clapton performed each of them as if it was the first time. My only gripe is that the Nottingham audience didn't get to its feet until Eric and the band were leaving the stage after a great version of Cocaine. The RAH crowd is normally on its feet and crowding the stage for the last 3 or 4 numbers at each gig.
For the encore, Eric returned to the stage followed by legendary bluesman Robert Cray who had opened the evening with a great 6-song support set. The two of them jammed on the intro to Crossroads before Clapton walked to the microphone for a rousing vocal performance of the Robert Johnson/ Cream classic. Both played classy solos during the number and smiled at each other throughout. Clapton's final solo being particluary fierce.
As the band took it's well deserved bow and prepared to leave the stage, Eric Clapton who claims to be 'So Tired' couldn't have looked any further from it. Roll on the rest of the tour!!!
Review by Jonny G
Ok, I didn't want to admit, my first EC gig at the Birmingham NEC had its flaws. Robert Cray seemed a little perturbed and EC seemed at times to be going through the motions, but tonight at Nottingham he was on top form!
No kidding, the NEC is like a big barn, Nottingham arena is much smaller and more intimate and I will definately be going there again. I knew I was in for a good night because Robert Cray looked a different person and played a great set, really relaxed and joking with the front rows, he did six numbers tonight and was soloing great.
8:45 arrived and EC and the band appeared, after the usual slow start Pretending and So Tired he began Got to get better with conviction and despite a few volume knob tweaks here and there was getting into his stride until next Bell Bottom blues slowed the pace and the one I've been waiting for Anyday was at a much slower pace to the Le Cannet version I heard. It seemed the huge impact the early set at the NEC had was not apparent, EC rolled into Sheriff and after a few chords called for a guitar change from Lee as the first verse was underway, I thought oh dear but by the time EC took his solo I knew he was in a different place altogether, his head was back and he delivered the chops and the expressions that I have seen on some of his best live dvds.
The set was thereafter as before but seemed to get better and better, Trucks gave me chills on Running on faith and Little Queen of Spades resulted in a standing ovation (from me anyways sporting my ecaccess tshirt I might add!!) all musicians were at this point feeling the energy and the solos were awesome, most notable Doyle's who has been under fire of late but was electric, to prove EC was on form, the key change delivered some of the finest slow blues soloing I have ever heard him play! The night got better, songs that have grown tired on my ears were refreshing by the standard of the play and the sound, all were laughing at Eric's evidently over relaxed feel as he fluffed the signature lick in Layla to conclude his solo, Cocaine was again a tour de force from all with Tim Carmen and Doyle playing great.
To cap it all off, I saw a little twin or bassman be wheeled onto stage whilst we applauded for the encore and I knew this time Robert would join for Crossroads and he duly did and capped an absolutely wonderful evening for me. Well I had to get it all out of my system.. thankyou Eric, long may it continue!
Review by Matt Shirley/Nottingham
Sheffield and Notts
What can I say, Ill start with Sheffield Eric was in top form and looked like he was going to be well up for it from the start. The solos came and each one left me with goose bumps... the lyric cold shivers sprang to mind, To top it he played "Anyday" what a lovely song makes you just how good the Layla album really is, Eric's voice just seems to get sweeter.
Nottingham my home town, how cool.... 8.45 Eric walks up onto stage Iam 6 rows from the front to his right what a view, he seemed to be happy and relaxed. I really like the 06 version of pretending and I think So Tired is great. Eric played anyday again Yeah I got to hear it two nights it really is a nice song.... I think he had the guitar tuned open and he lunched straight into I shot the sheriff and left Lee standing there wondering what he was doing, Eric realised as he started the verse and had a big smile as he looked over. He more than made up for it with the solo and what a version of little queen of spades.
All in all the last 3 nights have been the best Birthday presents ever..... Thank you Eric for some very special memories
Review by David Bates
After a wonderful Chinese meal in the restaurant across the road from the Arena, we settled down to watch Robert Cray open the show. The Nottingham Arena, being a far cry from the Leeds Irish Centre on 27th June last year, where in more intimate surroundings on the hottest day of the year in Leeds, he wowed the audience with his full repetoire.. His set was excellent if not too short. "Too short" was my partner's comment after the encore. We were treated to some excellent vintage Clapton, and the wonderful guitar work of both Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall, but the songs were all too short apart from the excellent Little Queen of Spades.
The Dominos songs from the "Layla" Album were very good. I had not heard these live since October 1970 at the Penthouse Club in Scarborough.
Review by Amy Allen/Nottingham
What an amazing evening,being only 18 I appreciate it when I get to see a living legend live on stage.A great set list with some of his greats in there,I particularly enjoyed,Pretending,Running on faith,Wonderful tonight, Cocaine, Crossroads and of cause my favourite song of all time Layla.Soon has Eric burst into Layla I was up off my seat dancing(the only person in the whole block,may i add!).All in all it was an amazing show with some fantastic guitar playing,I fully enjoyed it and come back to Nottingham soon Eric!.
Review by Brian Didmon / Whitstable Kent
An Eric Clapton concert is not a life changing experience it is much more than that.
For some people an Eric concert is a occasional, almost annual event, but the people of Nottingham have had to wait 30 years for the chance of a local concert. Clearly the people of Nottingham have not forgotten Eric as they easily packed the cavernous Ice Arena. However the audience were polite, attentive, reserved even but certainly not prepared to show they were enthusiastic. In fact it wasn't until well into the set, (Wonderful Tonight, Layla and Cocaine) that they seemed to wake up.
Eric and his Band maintained his distinctive solid, driving train of sound that has become his concert trademark sound, loud; yes, but never distorted. Even the acoustic songs worked well in the acoustic black hole that is the Ice Arena (let's face it the Ice Arena will never be the Albert Hall) which is a real tribute to the excellent work of the guys on the mixing desk.
It is a mark of the man that Eric surrounds himself with the very best musicians and support for his tours - whilst one might wish for the dream team of Andy Fairweather Low, Nathan East, Albert Lee and the legendary percussionist Ray Cooper there can be no doubt as to the credentials and sheer unmatched playing ability of the new band - Doyle Bramhall, his solos were hard, edgy, agressive - on the money; Derek Trucks - with a slide guitar that was alternatively on fire or as smooth as ice - all driven by the relentless force of Steve Jordan on drums. And of course the inspired keyboard work of Chris Stainton which as usual was just awesome.
The call for the encore - at last - did get people on their feet and Crossroads did bring the house down, it was a fitting finale for a legendary return to Nottingham.
Was it a great show - absolutely. Was it worth the 400 mile round trip - you betcha and more, we'd do it again next week. Did we enjoy it - no, we absolutely loved it.
Eric gave his all - he always does - Nottingham gave slightly less.
Review by Ned Newhouse, NY
I thoroughly enjoyed my night and the band at Nottingham. I sat in the six row floor. The arena was further than I thought, it was about 2 hours north of London. While I have been to about 20 EC concerts, since '83 mostly in the States, this crowd was the most different. Average age 50, (I'm 47) they were quiet and English proper. It was nice not having that one moron in the crowd that was drunk or screaming Layla all night... it just made the focus on why we were there... the MUSIC! Not that the crowd didn't enjoy it, or applaud, but you could hear a pin drop right before either Cray or EC began a song. We stood up once all night and that was for the encore Crossroads. For only the 5th night of the tour, I found the band to be very tight and EC to happy, laughing with the band and with Lee (the guitar tech) as a guitar (I think a string) went bad during Layla. (My friend and I have a joke that Eric is so proficient that he's fired Lee over 1000 times and then apologizes and hires him right back.)
It was kind of different to have to have two guitar players along with EC and it was handled quite nicely. First of all while I have only read about Derek Trucks so it was great to see for myself his masterful slide playing... he's so young and talented! Doyle was again terrific, chatted at times with Derek, sang a bit like on Anyday and a few song surprises that he hasn't played yet from earlier nights, (I get into that in a moment) but I thought the 3 guitar players were just a splendid arrangement. On many songs Eric would play a quick lead, then Doyle would play a two/three minute lick lead, then Derek would play a few minutes of slide then Eric would play his own longer lead. Eric truly seemed to enjoy watching his students play... he was proud of their work. I think then the encore was the most special watching all three take a lead and then add Robert Cray with a fourth into the mix! It was an interesting examination of all their styles getting to watch each showcase their talents.
The surprise songs of the night were Bell Bottom Blues and Everybody Oughta Make A Change. I had a fun night, Eric even at 62 as I'm now seeing him 2 years from the last time, that he might loose a step or stop being proficient, (I hope not) but he just keeps getting better, adds something new to the performance, changes up arrangements, adds new players or instruments, so enjoyable. I can even happily tolerate seeing Wonderful Tonight or Layla from watching it (with all the vids) 2000+ times!
Review by Ian Lawrence
This was the first time I had seen E.C. live and it proved to be no disappointment.
It was a shame that (from my seat anyway) I had difficulty hearing the brass section and the female backing vocalists and occasionally Eric's vocals were lost in the general sound level, but overall the concert was excellent. I especially enjoyed the acoustic numbers which really highlighted Eric's talent to the full.
I cannot remember the entire playlist, but for me NOBODY KNOWS YOU WHEN YOURE DOWN AND OUT, MILKCOW BLUES, LITTLE QUEEN OF SPADES, COCAINE and of course CROSSROADS were the stand -out numbers.
The Robert Cray Band provided good support and Eris was on stage for over two hours. All in all a memorable evening so keep on rockin' Eric!
Review by Phil Walker / Nottingham, England
I'm writing this belatedly but just want to say how amazing EC and the band were at the Nottingham Arena on Sunday May 14th. The sound quality was astonishing and the video screens played a huge part in the show, bringing a great deal of detail to those of us in the audience â€“ amazing to see that Doyle Bramhall plays not only left-handed but upside down (a la Albert King) with the bass strings at the bottom. Derek Trucks was someone I'd heard about but he's justifies his reputation as someone who can really make a slide guitar talk.
Eric was just unbelievable. I've only seen live him twice before (Sheffield Arena early 90's, NEC Sharp charity concert mid-90's) but this was far and away the best show I've seen him perform. The selection of songs was more to my liking and there was a distinct Derek and The Dominoes feel about the whole thing. Loved Little Queen Of Spades and Anyday in particular. Musicianship of a very, very high order. Loved it. It's taken him a long time to get to Nottingham (in my adult life I've never known him play here) and now we're on the arena circuit hopefully he'll be back before long. Great to see Robert Cray again. What a support act!