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17 May 2006 - Eric Clapton & His Band

Location

Royal Albert Hall London
United Kingdom
Band Lineup: 

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)

Support: 
Robert Cray Band
Special Guest(s): 

Robert Cray – guitar / vocals*

Set List: 

01. Pretending
02. So Tired
03. Got To Get Better In A Little While
04. Lost And Found
05. I Shot The Sheriff
06. Let It Rain
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
17. Layla
18. Cocaine
19. Crossroads (encore)*

Show Notes: 

For a few songs during this show, Eric Clapton played a prototype of the Blackie Replica Guitar issued by the Fender Custom shop in November 2006 as part of the replicas's approval process. Click here to read related news article.

Fan Reviews: 

Review by Paul Herbert
THE RETURN OF BLACKIE!!?! I was sat in the front row of Stalls O on Wednesday night, to the right of the stage and just a few feet away from Lee Dickson's guitar station. Nothing was out of the ordinary in the lead up to the gig until I noticed that one of the guitars that was lying away from the rack and covered over with a towel. When Lee uncovered this old battered black strat and started tuning it, it looked as thought it was 'Blackie'. And not just A Blackie but THE Blackie... surely not?

Well, so to the show. The band is without doubt getting tighter with every performance and it has to be said, Eric Clapton plays his best when in the surrounds of the Royal Albert Hall... No argument. From the first solo in Pretending, Eric was playing and singing with more intensity and vigour than on Sunday evening in Nottingham. I also thought Doyle Bramall II was in a different gear tonight and that Steve Jordan is proving to possibly be the best drummer I have ever seen accompany Clapton.

The set list was altered slightly to Nottingham with Lost & Found replacing Bell Bottom Blues. With this change in the set list came a change in guitar, a chipped and battered looking black Stratocaster in fact. Lost & Found slotted in to the set much better than Bell Bottom Blues and maintained the fiery tempo, featuring some really crisp and sharp soloing from Clapton. Lost & Found also showed the tightness of the band with the sudden D'Angelo tribute style ending. Sticking with the black Stratocaster Eric then tore through some awesome renditions of I Shot The Sheriff and Let It Rain before slowing things down with the seated segment of the show. The rest of the set that followed was the same as previous nights.

The highlights? Possibly every solo EC played tonight. The first half of the show through from Pretending to Let It Rain was played with so much energy. The sit down set showcased Clapton's ever improving voice and the second half of the set continued on from where the first half left off. EC definitely deserved the sit down in the middle!! I thought Doyle overshadowed Derek Trucks and took his solo's well, especially in Queen of Spades.

Robert Cray again joined EC for the encore with a slightly more up tempo Crossroads with both taking fine solos. Before the show I was lucky enough to have a chat and get my photo taken with Doyle and then after the show I was lucky enough the get one of Eric's guitar picks from Lee Dickson. And so I asked the immortal question, 'Lee, was that Blackie, Eric was using tonight? The answer with a smile and a wink was 'It might have been' ...

Review by Anthony Craig
Just thought I'd add my own comment about the possible return of Blackie. I was sat towards the left of the stage on Wednesday and clearly saw that when the black strat was placed on a stand, the paint on the back was definitely stripped down to the wood in exactly the same pattern as Blackie (like the back of the 2004 auction catalogue) and also had no tremolo cover plate. So was this Blackie or maybe a new Fender Custom Shop replica perhaps? I'm suprised Fender have not yet made a limited run of relic Blackies like Gibson did with the '64 335. Or maybe they've just made one for EC? Great show, great set, great band, just wish I was going again!

Review by Francis Geerts, Westerlo-Belgium
"Just one of his best ever! I've seen him a dozen times but this was a very special night. Two young, hot, talented guitarists to push Eric where we want to see him: closed eyes, head behind, trampling on the spot, fluently soloing over the rhythm.

Wonderful setlist with some special numbers; Motherless Children, Everybody Oughta Make A Change,... J

ust one word on the comment of John Herbert "about the Return of THE Blackie". I saw that guitar too under a towel! But it was not Blackie. It was Lee Dicksons guitar for testing the pa. I took also a photo of Lee with in his hands the guitar Eric used that night and in front of him the towel and his guitar. The photo was taken just a few minutes before the start of the concert. So, no comeback for Blackie. He deserves his retirement. Finally thanks EC Access for the best seats I ever had. Eric and his band, see you in Antwerp!"

Review by John Higgins
Wow! What a night. I had a fantastic view of the stage. You could see the expressions on all the faces of the musicians.
The Robert Cray Band kicked off the night, a very confident set list of tracks, including a good rendition of a Clapton track from the August album "Bad Influence". Robert's voice was in good form. The audience gave them a big appaulse as they finished their set and left the stage.
The stage crew came on to set up for the main event. The lights dimmed and then on came the man we had all been waiting for, Eric.
The crowd cheered and then he burst into a great version of Pretending. It was good to hear that song as hasn't had an outing for a while. Eric was in great form when he started his solos on the opener and he continued to produce high calibre solos all evening. The night had the same set list as the previous night at the RAH, and Eric included Let It Rain for tonight.

The band was superb. Derek Trucks provided some unbelievable slide work. Steve Jordon on drums gave a great feel to tracks I Shot The Sheriff and Milkcow Blues. Steve Jordan did have to have a few symbol and snare changes thoughout the course of the set. But what a wonderful band, they all seemed very relaxed on stage and let the music take control. Eric launched into some electrifying solos, especially in I Shot the Sheriff and Little Queen of Spades. It was great to hear some classic Derek and the Dominos material.

I've seen Eric 10 times now and he is getting better everytime i see him. He is a fanrasic talent and always a pleasure to go to see. The highlight of the evening for me was Layla, such a powerful version and Eric was electric on the fretboard during the solo. The encore of Crossroads was welcomed by the whole audience giving a standing ovation. Robert Cray came on for the encore. What a great track to end a fantasic night. Thank You for a great night Eric.

Review by Craig Jackson / Crawley, UK
It was polished, it was professional but, unfortunately, it was rather clinical. The band obviously had a set list to get through - and that's what they did. There was no spontaneity, no extended guitar solos, no interaction with the audience and none of the numbers were introduced. If you didn't know your Clapton, you wouldn't have had a clue which track was being played!

Even the audience were subdued. The applause was polite rather than thunderous, there was no clapping along or yelling and everyone stayed firmly rooted to their seats except during the Crossroads encore when some; but not all; of us stood up (probably to take the pressure off our aching backsides).

This was the first time I'd seen Clapton in concert and, as I expected, the musicianship was technically superb and I enjoyed every minute of it. I just couldn't get away from the feeling that they were all going through the motions. Having said all that, I can't wait until the next time I see EC!

Review by John London
There's no doubt about it, the boy done good! An excellent well balanced set with the crescendo of my wife's favourite Layla immediately followed by Cocaine (my own favourite towards the end). My comments though are on the venue itself. The Royal Albert Hall, spectacular and history-steeped that it is both acoustically and to view hopeless. We had good seats in the central flat area stalls (Row 19) but spent the evening fidgeting and craning necks to see the Man. It was easier in the “electric guitar” numbers to see him as he was standing but virtually impossible during the seated acoustic section.

However it was easier to hear the detailed content during the acoustic section, less so during the louder stuff. So when we could see we couldn't hear, when we could hear we couldn't see - is that how it should be ??!!

The Hall bounces sound around so every sounds unclear and gets muddled with everything else making the noisier songs sound - well, just a noise! really sad, given the undoubted individual talents of the accompanying musicians. From previous concert visits (Eric and others), around the sides in the elevated areas and the lower level boxes, gives better viewing but the sound still doesn't improve and if you were unlucky only to have got in the vertigo seats (having been issue with your parachute!) nothing works. You just have to be satisfied that you are there.

Eric must like the RAH as he's held resident concert stints there many times. I guess the capacity and location have something to do with it. I do wonder whether he has ever tested or been made aware of the Hall's limitations in all these respects? It's a dichotomy really as his album production is always second to none.

At £60 a ticket we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and am sure we'll go again (if we can get the tickets) and as I read in the Manchester review his voice and his and others' guitar work was excellent. Eric stands for quality - for rock music concerts, the RAH does not.

Review by Andrew Davis
This was my first EC concert and what a way to see it, the RAH, three rows from the stage and only 10 feet away from the Master!

A great start to the evening with The Robert Cray Band and what superb guitar techniques Robert has to go along with his excellent vocals.

Then the real excitement and what a joy to see Eric play his guitar close up and really see the quality of his work and performance. All the old favourites mixed in with some of Eric's more recent work.

The whole band were excellent and the overall sound quality first class, you could pick out every instrument and vocal clearly. But I was especially impressed with Derek Trucks, what a great young guitarist he is, he has a great future I am sure.

I really wanted to get up out of my seat when Eric launched into I shot the Sheriff, but the audience were very polite being the RAH so that had to unfortunately wait until the encore of Crossroads.

A wonderful night Eric, may thanks, looking forward to my next opportunity to come and see you.

Review by Jii Aoi
Back home in Japan. Jet-lagged. From across the globe, another short comment to be added here (with an inevitable delay). If I choose one word to describe the collective musical approach on Wednesday night, it should be 'rejuvenation'.

I felt opposite of Lee Harris' view. To my ears, the Weeks/Jordan pair supplied the performance with a more organic sense of rhythm than the long-time familiar East/Gadd team. There is something of a Caribbean feel in the way they hit the groove together, and it gave a strong reggae-oriented texture even to non-reggae tunes, such as Got To Get Better In A Little While. It was a delight to hear EC's live staples cooked in a different way from the previous tours -- they sounded as fresh as any new additions to the repertoire. Even Wonderful Tonight was enjoyable as a short, economical burst of the good old crowd-pleaser with its little charm intact!

There were so many highlights. In fact, every song was a highlight. Who could have imagined Motherless Children as an amphetamine-driven high-speed punk-rock a la EC? Cocaine galloping a long way (again, superb beat generated by Jordan, just amazing dexterity) along ALL the guitar and keyboard players exchanging solos? The set list tells none of those -- you have to be there.

So, after all, this is not Derek and The Dominos revisited as was touted in some quarters before the tour started, an expectation spurred by the other Derek joining in the lineup. This is Eric Clapton 2006 and that was good about it, just like the Cream Reunion was Cream 2005 not 1967-8.

I wish I had heard Anyday though. Never mind, we are supposed to be spoilt by a series of shows on this shore this fall...sooner or later any day I can hear it!

Review by Dan Stone
Show on the 17th was very good but not quite the opportunity for worship that I hope for when I go to see god. The band comprises two keyboard players (Stainton and Clarmon), two female background vocalists, a bass player (Weeks), a drummer (Jordan), three pieces horn (and occasional flute) section - the Kick Horns, and three superb guitar players: EC, Brahamall, and Trucks. Almost no one was featured at any time except the guitarists (Stainton got two solos, I think, and Clarmon - whose solos I love - exactly one). It was as if the rest of them were there to provide a musical background for the main three. Solos were handed out in turn. Bramhall played better than when I have seen or heard him (with EC) previously and I now understand why he is so highly rated. Trucks is quite skilled and creative.

Clapton was engaged and happy on stage - very much the leader, and aggressive and frequently brilliant in his solos. Over the course of the evening he probably took about half for himself and shared the remainder with the other two. Thinking about this arrangement with the background band and the shared guitar labours I came up with two theories. One is that Clapton is consciously trying to pass the torch to the younger guys. Teach them to tour and to play, give them exposure, build their confidence and their audiences.

The other is that he is now creating a form that will let him continue to perform in public for a long time. Remember the reunion interview in which he talked about the amount of stamina that is required as the only guitar player in a very small band, and how much work it took to get ready for that amount of playing? I think maybe this new setup is an experiment with an approach that will let him play as much or as little as he wants to or is able to as he grows older.

All in all a very good show musically, including standout Let it Rain, Layla (and I have seen a lot of them), Milk Cow Blues, Cocaine (another oldie that really shone with all the guitars), Motherless Children (three slides - riotous), Little Queen of Spades as the twelve bar tour de force instead of HYELAW, and a very good Sheriff. Gorgeous Running on Faith but Clapton played acoustic and gave Doyle an electric solo at the end, a solo I have wanted to see Clapton take ever since I heard that come-from-nowhere gem near the end of the tune on 24 Nights. Another noteworthy element was Clapton's solo on a Bramhall original (name unknown) which was absolutely blistering but which was also the only Clapton solo I haven't understood in terms of how it relates to the song in which it is embedded since I started listening in 1971. But with this three guitar format it wasn't quite the Clapton-centric show I have come to expect.

Robert Cray opened and played head and shoulders above any other time I have ever seen him. He was superb. Joined the band for encore Crossroads, making four great players trading solos, another highlight of the evening.

Review by Pep Hernandez / Terrassa- Spain
Wednesday morning flight from Barcelona to London to see one of the best shows i've seen, the better of Eric i only see the shows in Spain, but the show in the RAH is very different, the acoustic of the hall, Eric is ..... back Home and the feelings are different, promise i'm come back!!! The set list was very good, the sound of the band with 3 guitars working are powerful. Love the version of I'm yours ¡¡ what a work in the slide of Derek!! this sound transport me to the shows of the Dominos like Let it rain, Got you get better..., or Layla, the new songs sounds good Lost and Found is powerful with the fantastic work of Doyle, and the guitars in Motherless Children, After midnight, Cocaine and Crossroads ..... unbeliable !!!!! It's a pitty, the tour don't stop in Spain ¿¿why?? but probably i will come back to see another show in Europe, i recommended to all the fans of Eric or people likes good live music to see the experience of Eric with this fabulous band, enjoy it !!!! and see you on the Road.

Official Recording: 

 

Bootleg Recording(s): 

Southern Harmony (Mid Valley 367 – 15 CD)