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
Robert Cray – guitar / vocals*
02. I Shot The Sheriff
03. Got To Get Better In A Little While
04. Old Love*
05. Everybody Oughta Make A Change
06. Motherless Children
07. Back Home
08. I Am Yours
09. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
10. Running On Faith
11. After Midnight
12. Little Queen Of Spades
13. Further On Up The Road
14. Wonderful Tonight
17. Crossroads (encore)*
Opening night of the 2006 U.S. Tour
Review by Scott Lyson, St. Paul
"Thank you. It's good to be back." Clapton said before he started in on Back Home. Couldn't agree more. Drove down to St. Paul listening to some softer tunes to keep me mellow. The listening party was held in a private section in a bar. Very nice setup. Drinks and food provided. Just hung out chatting with fellow EC fans. Then the two in charge (sorry I forgot your names) handed out copies of a press release about the album. A handful of t-shirts were handed out as the group was asked trivia questions. Luckily I had reviewed that almost identical press release that was posted online here and got the final two questions correct. (the 2 I got correct were; how many of the songs did J.J. Cale write? 11; which song did Eric write? Three Little Girls) Two free t-shirts. Thank you guys very much! Then they gave us a packet where we could rate the songs and leave our comments on the songs. They piped the music through the sound system surrounding the bar. Sounds like an absolutely fantastic album! I really don't know what to say except I loved all the songs. Definitely a J.J. Cale! produced album. Some amazing, yet lower key, solos really caught my attention when I happened to be drifting away from the album to hear some incredible stories from some truly devoted life-long fans! Heard that Clapton had been in St. Paul for the entire week, probably get some confirmation, at least more info from a member on the board here. He does love his fly-fishing. Then after this nice little get-together walked on over to the Xcel. It was a great time at the listening party. Very nice job by those who put it on, thank you guys very much!! Hopefully I could hit the Chicago one too... please. You guys will love it!
Sitting in the center section 15 rows from the stage at the Xcel waiting for only half an hour seemed like a day. I've been waiting for this since the Back Home press release last summer. Finally, Cray takes the stage. Started off with Phone Booth, first time I've heard the song was on a you tube video. Loved it ever since. Got some nice cheers when he inserted St. Paul into the lyrics. Poor Johnny is one of my favorite songs, love it live. Cray's vocals were way better this night compared to the recently released From Across the Pond. It appeared that the bass player was having a little tech trouble in the beginning. Great solos on each and every song. I Was Warned, 12 Year Old Boy, Bad Influence, Twenty and I'm Walkin' rounded out Cray's set. Great blues to open the show.
It wasn't long before the lights dimmed. To a huge roar Eric and his band appeared on stage. Ah yes, the tinkling of Chris' piano. Boom boom bu da boom. Pretending. We're off. Unfortunately, for most of the concert my vision of stage was limited to Doyle, Tim, Willie, and Chris as the people sitting in front of me seemed to be in "wave" mode during the concert. It got ugly at the end but for me it didn't matter. The crowd was up for about half the concert. Clapton was incendiary!! I've been listening to a lot of Clapton the past year or so. The Sheriff from the Crossroads Festival I have memorized note-for-note, although I'm not a musician, nor do I know anything about music. Clapton's solos blew my mind every single time. All the solos were different from the ones I've previously heard. Even quite different from the recordings I've heard from this tour. The band was smiling throughout and a few times it appeared they huddled together around the drums in between songs. Everyone seemed really refreshed and excited to be playing again. Everyone has heard the buzz about Derek. I'd have to agree with the Star Tribune and say that his light was brightest during the sit down set. It was Doyle that blew my mind on the other tunes especially on GTGBIALW. GTGB, Everyboudy Oughta Make a Change and Motherless Children got a huge response from the crowd. I was hoping these songs would be played on this tour but didn't know how ubiquitous they were. Awesome jam band! Both these guys were magnificent. I was impressed by both of their soloing, so was Eric. A lot of laughs were shared on the stage. There were a lot of hand gestures too that I couldn't make out, but the entire band was having a ball and kept pushing each other to no end. Right away I was struck by the power of Steve Jordan's drumming. All of the instruments were well balanced I thought. The guitars were cranked a bit louder but that's they way I like it. I do recall requesting his guitar be turned ! up when he was playing acoustic. I think Eric lost a pick on Nobody Knows You and almost missed a lyric, but of course he quickly caught back up. They had huddled for a couple minutes it seemed after Running on Faith. Then the lights made a move that made me think he was going to pull out White Room, but then burst into After Midnight which got the audience up in an instant. For a while the back drop of "bed sheets" doubled as a screen for another projected screen. Lovely light show. Wonderful Tonight was almost all pink. Eric said one of the lyrics unlike he's ever sang it before but I don't recall which line. Sounded much more personal when he sang it. I'd like to say now that Eric's vocals far surpassed my expectations (except on After Midnight chorus and the "if I am guilty I will pay" bit in Sheriff). He was really getting into singing with his whole body. Not to mention his soloing. I surprised myself when I realized I was much more into the latter half of Layla as opposed to! the be ginning. Derek and Eric were going to town on the second half. Derek was meant to play that with Eric! Cocaine featured mind blowing solos from Eric, Doyle, Derek and Chris. Eric was teasing us with a lot of string bending in Cocaine. Each bend bringing a smile to my face. Eric then was able to do something I didn't think was even possible. He built up the solo like Tim Carmon's solo on the 04' tour. Sliding his hand higher and higher up the fret while hitting four notes at once. My jaw dropped. Then Doyle just let loose and if there was a moment I were to go deaf it was that moment when Doyle started his solo when Eric was finishing his. WOW. What else can I say? Encore.
Here's where things got nasty. The lady in front of the guy sitting next to me (who was distracting a whole lot of us throughout the entire set) stood on her chair. The guy next to me did politely ask her to get down. Then a lot of F bombs were dropped as the couple in front of us went off on the poor guy next to me. So I ended up missing the first bit of Crossroads as security came over. Then I got to stand in the aisle. Nothing happened with the security guy, he just stood there. But with me in the aisle I was able to see Bob and Eric share a few lines. Everyone was shouting the lyrics. Cray was really getting into too, using his entire body when he was singing. Five guitar solos later and the show was over. Everything about the concert exceeded my already high expectations. There was an unfortunate courtesy issue sure, but I didn't need to see anything. This night ROCKED! This band will blow your mind!! Eric IS the greatest living guitar player hands down. Like a friend I met today, you might want to invest a portion of every paycheck into an Eric Clapton account and see as many shows as you can!
Review by Jill Sletten - St. Paul, Minnesota
This was a concert filled with incredible guitar playing that blew me away from the opening number of Pretending to the soulful guitar riffs of the blues. Just when I think Eric Clapton can't get any better he does, he is the master and he plays with a passion so strong that it brought me to tears.
Clapton along with guitar greats Robert Cray, Doyle Bramhall II and Derek Trucks made this night a spectacular night of showcasing guitar playing at its best. My seats were great but the large screens on each side of the stage brought the guitar playing up close and personal one could only sit there in awe and watch the fingers of these guitar players move with unbelievable skill.
For me I was right at home with Clapton playing songs from long ago, the songs that made us all fall in love with Clapton in the 60's and 70's. What an incredible ride he has given us over the last 40 years. I can't help but be shellfish and ask him for more. I've seen a lot of concerts but none like this. It left exhausted from unleashing my emotion and breathless from listening to unmistakingly the best guitar playing I have yet seen.
Clapton plays with such feeling that it brings his songs inside our heart and soul. That is what a great musician does and no one does it better than Clapton.
He said in his program that he guarantees that whatever we hear it will be done with feeling, so have a great time, and maybe we'll meet again somewhere down the road....that road had better be short, because I had a great time with a great man and his band and it made me graving for more. Thank you EC.
Review by Skip Bruber - St. Paul, MN
I was very impressed with Eric's performance at the Xcel Energy Center last night. It is awesome to see that he still has so much energy and passion for what he does with his music. He and the whole band did a stellar job! Doyle, Derek, Chris, Tim and Willie were fantastic. My only complaint was that I could not hear the Hammond B3 well enough when he was playing it. But, that did not really matter. Steve Jordan did a wonderful job on the drums. Eric has assembled another fine band indeed. My favorite numbers had to be "I Shot The Sheriff", "Old Love" (with a great keyboard solo by Tim), "Little Queen Of Spades", (great solos by both Doyle and Derek) and of course "Layla" and "Cocaine".
That had to be one of the greatest concerts I have ever witnessed. Eric and the band looked like they were really having a blast out there too! This was a very memorable show indeed.
Review by Bob Last - Oshkosh, Wi
Opening with "Pretending"! Ending with "Crossroads"!
Having seen Eric only twice before, I was totally memerized by his expertese, at not only his masterful guitar playing, but his joyful interplay with his band mates! Never before have I witnessed a man so full of youthfull energy as I did at the Excel Center on Saturday night! Yes , Eric did a great job at his great technique of playing some hardcore blues, but his band supported him with some fantastic slide guitar, rhthym, and bass! The piano was excellent, and the drums were well delivered; the backup singers did a fine job of supporting the cast. Eric was soulful, playful, and energetic the whole evening. I can't imaginine a finer concert on the road today, and I can't imagine a finer crowd to enjoy it with! I was blessed to be with some fantastic friends that helped to make this one of my memorable concert experiences.
Review by Jon Swenson
ECAccess did a nice job with the listening party. Everyone got a free drink of their choice & they provided a very nice spread of food to munch on. There was a T-shirt giveaway during a quick trivia contest & EC's & JJ's new album was a joy to listen too. We were asked to rate each song & provide comments.
Robert Cray's 40 minute set was an artful blues display -- a show in itself! Then the place was electrified by EC and his band's heart pounding earth thumping performance. Never have I seen so much energy from EC in a live performance. The set list did not change from previous performances during the current tour. I always want more but all good things must end. Thank you EC & Chicago watch out here he comes & he's most definitely going to bring the house down!
Review by Eric Johannesson - Duluth,MN
Saturday night Sept 16th 2006 at the Excel Center was an experience that I will carry with me for a long time.
Before Eric Clapton walked onto the stage himself that evening. The house lights went down the band came out one by one. Each of the musician that was part the band that night have been established and some of the best at their craft Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Derek Trucks (guitar), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Tim Carmon (keyboards), Willie Weeks (bass), and on the drums Steve Jordan. They all walked across the stage, each finding their positions, also joining them was very soulful female back-up singers Michelle John and Sharon White. Then here comes Eric Clapton himself. The room roared.
It seemed like with a wink and a smile they kicked in on the one right into "Pretending" and closed out the night with "Crossroads" which by the way the band was joined by guitarist Robert Cray for the encore. All four this era's best blues guitar players throwing it down together.
Robert Cray also the evenings opening act, the set was short and included mostly songs from his newest album "Twenty" He did announce that his new live album was released last week. I read about it on Eric Claptons news web site. This live album was recorded during their 10 nights opening for Clapton at Royal Albert Hall.
As the show proceeded though the two plus hour set that included many great songs old and new. Knowing most set list from the European tour that I had seen posted I couldn't wait for what was coming up next.
The interaction of the band was entertaining alone. They all appeared to be just out there laying it down plus having fun doing it!
This was the first night of the North American tour. They had finished the last leg of the European tour the end of July of this year. So I was wondering a little if they were going to be a little off. I was wrong they were fresh, tight, and strong. My personal highlight of the night was when they worked their way through Robert Johnsons "Little Queen Of Spades" from the "Me & Mr. Johnson" album. I could feel the energy as it kept building, and flowing. They seemed to be playing from the spirit of their heart and soul. That spirit was true.
Personally I think everyone could feel it. "Queen Of Spades" will always get me to think of Billy Preston. He really put the Preston feel to that recording. Which allowed me to reflect of the recent loss of Billy Preston, and all that he given to this world through his music. A true gift sent for us to all share.
I hoping on the way down from Duluth that he does "After Midnight" which I had seen was on the set list when I got there. So I was really looking forward to the song to be played that evening.
Unfortunately it was the song that followed "Queen Of Spades" and once that was done. I could just feel the energy just drop from everyone there. Like it was time to breathe after what we all had just went through. So what I thought was going to be the highlight was a moment to just relax. So I had to sit there still trying to take in what I just been witness too.
The truth, I had only really started listening to Eric Clapton again five years ago. I had put him on a shelf back 17yrs ago. Only listening to what was being played on the radio, at times over played. Never really taking the time to learn any more than what I had already knew. That I regret, lesson learned.
What I have come to really appreciate of Eric Clapton in the past five years was very evident that evening. What Eric Clapton has given to music through his blues, should never be taken lightly. He takes the time to acknowledge his heritage. Sharing his lessons along the way with everyone. He surrounds himself with great musicians who are like him. True to the music. Like he is inviting the next generation of artists to go forward. Saying take what I have learned from me, find yourself within then give it back freely.
If you could have seen what I got to see, you would know what I mean. Respect, is what I have learned to give Eric Clapton. He respects those who have gone before him. Inviting those that are following behind to join in. Love the music, and play from your heart.
Review by D. Giles / Roseville CA
For our 27th wedding anniversary, I was fortunate enough to be able to give 3rd row center tickets to my husband. Neither of us had ever been able to go see Eric, but have loved him from the beginning and through it all. This was such a memorable evening for us. To say it was a great concert is an understatement. We enjoyed EVERYHTING about the concert. Eric has a very unique talent; he really loves what he does and he makes you feel the way he feels about his music. Come back to the US Eric, and visit us on the west coast.