Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Steve Winwood – vocals / Hammond B3 / piano / guitar
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Abe Laboriel, Jr. – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
Buddy Guy – guitar / vocals *
01. Had To Cry Today
02. Low Down
03. After Midnight
04. Presence of The Lord
05. Sleeping in the Ground
07. Well Alright
08. Tough Luck Blues
09. Pearly Queen
11. There's A River
12. Forever Man
13. Georgia On My Mind
15. How Long Blues
17. Can't Find My Way Home
18. Split Decision
19. Voodoo Chile
20. Sweet Home Chicago (encore) *
21. Drowning On Dry Land (encore) *
Review by Olyvia J / Chicago
I can only begin with the word WOW! This was the best show I have ever been to. These two accomplished musicians compliment each other perfectly. Clapton's guitar work is amazing. My jaw dropped to the floor several times as he ripped apart each solo. One thing that was different with this show was the encore. In a appropriate setting, Chicago - the Blues capital, Buddy Guy came out and played the last two songs. The crowd went into an uproar. Perfect addition to the concert. I would of spent double the money to see this show.
Winwood's voice is powerful and was better than ever. Voodoo Chile had to be my favorite one - this was the last song before the encore. No Cocaine and no Dear Mr. Fantasy (which I would of loved to hear - but Buddy Guy was a good surprise). As stated in other reviews from earlier shows on the tour, Clapton's performance is indescribable; equally as well is Winwood's. I thought the drummer was really great. I have to say this was a lifetime experience and I enjoyed every last end of it. When the show was over, we all anticipated another encore - when the audience realized that this wasn't going to happen, literally the entire United Center let out a sound of sadness - we were sad to see it end. Only complaint is that I wish they kept playing!! WOW.
Review by James V / Chicago
Just left the show typing on my blackberry in a cab so this will be short and somewhat disjointed sorry. Starting backwards, EC and Steve did not perform Little Wing, Cocaine or Dear Mr Fantasy. Rather, Buddy Guy guested for Sweet Home Chicago and Going Down. Nice solos by Buddy. I'm generally not a fan of his. He was clearly loving the admiration from the crowd and EC did not out shine him. (EC clearly held
back a bit).
Voodoo Chile was KILLER - jaw dropping hot! A 9.5 out of 10. Eric was ferocious and then he played soft - quite like on Double Trouble from the "Just One Night" LP.
The crowd loved the acoustic set and I really enjoyed Driftin. The guitar sound was crisp, his finger picking was nice and the crowd did not whistle or yell (my pet peeves). They played the same songs as in Ohio - Georgia (Steve solo on Hammond B3), Driftin, How Long, Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, Layla and Can't Find My Way Home. The acoustic set ran a bit long for me. "Layla" should be dropped but the crowd loved it. Steve was beaming before "Georgia."
Here's my first reaction to first three songs "Had to Cry, Low Down and the slow version of After Midnight) that I sent to a friend from by blackberry - "Ok so far kind of a dial in. Wait he just tore up sleeping in the ground! Game on!". Yes, it was a killer solo - EC played non-stock phrases.
Tough Luck Blues was amazing as another friend said to me after I called him so he could listen during the solo. It was nice to hear EC sing a different blues tune. Forever Man was fun - short and to the point, but it was better hearing it for the first time at MSG with my friend in the 3rd row! Glad was great - if I recall EC had a solo that made me stand straight up live I got shocked. Not hair raising but pretty good.
As for After Midnight, one of my friend's said it best when I emailed after the show regarding the Ohio show "it was pretty peppy and played sort of as a cross between the original version and the Michelob commercial..."
Presence of the Lord was pretty good but I wanted a better solo. Also, I still think the ending harmonies are "off sync" for the lack of a better word. I know they are doing it on purpose and not missing each other but I much prefer the "EC Was Here" version. He can't top that one as he was great with Yvonne Elliman!
Pearly Queen rocked but it was not as good as the Crossroads Festival. Had to Cry Today was just ok.
The mix was too muddy to hear Willie but I love Abe! Heavy drumming was nice touch. Chris was solid as always. Do a solo album, Chris!!! The ladies added a nice touch on vocals.
I've seen about 3 dozen shows. Overall a pretty good show but not killer (I would love to have seen the Ohio show). Maybe I'd give this an 8 out of 10? Buddy was fun to see but I missed hearing Dear Mr Fantasy and Little Wing - I'm not sure I'm happy with the trade.
Unlike New York, this crowd was well behaved and respectful. I sat on the floor in section 4 and I think my section and the ones ahead of me (1-2-3) all stood. I worry that casual fans would have missed more "hits" like Valerie (in her review of the Ohio show) but that's not what this show was about.
Song ideas? How about: Easy Now or Let it Grow? How about Low Spark ... Or Arc of a Diver from Steve? How about Let it Rain, Hello Old Friend, I Can't Stand It, or Blues Power. Come on Eric, mix it up please, and pull out some forgotten gems! These songs are not that outlandish as he did play Walk Out in the Rain and I Am Yours recently.
Review by Rich Verson / Chicago
Interesting note: Both Steve Winwood and Chris Staintons Hammon B3s had twin Leslie hookups. Only one per organ appeared to be hooked up, with the second ones perhaps as back-ups at the ready.
The show, as usual, was a sellout at the United Center in Chicago. Also as usual, it started late as people continued to file in 20 minutes after the 8:00PM start time. Traffic was unusually bad in Chicago late into the evening.
- Abe Laboriel Jr. is a drum monster and his performance was stellar. Powerhouse extraordinaire. He and Willie Weeks found a solid, cohesive groove, with Willie standing right next to the drum riser most of the night.
- Steve and Eric had fabulous nights. Steve's voice was spot on every song (when isn't it?!) as was Erics.
- Steve's Hammond B3 was "under-volumed", as were Chris Stainton's keyboards. Steve's piano (standard black, acoustic Yamaha grand) was sounding perfect.
- The addition of backup singers Michelle John and Sharon White was a nice touch, although due to the sound mix, their high end occasionally came off as screeching. But I won't fault them; it's difficult to get a good array mix in a barn like the United Center, which wasn't designed for concerts.
- Best songs of the night: Glad, Voodoo Chile, Georgia (SW solo), Crossroads...and Sweet Home Chicago (of course!).
Now to the encore, which for me was a mixed bag. At the end of a 16 minute rendition of Voodoo Chile, Eric immediately looked around to his left and to his right, almost kind of panicked. Everyone then quickly left the stage without so much as a goodnight or the traditional bow. Clearly, I and fans around us thought that was kind of an odd way to end before an encore, and per the prior night's set lists, there was a song or two missing. The break was unusually long, 5 minutes, and fans were growing impatient. I turned to my wife and commented that something must be wrong. But then the band returned...with Buddy Guy. The crowd went crazy, as Chicago claims him as their own...which he is! The band played two songs, Sweet Home Chicago sung by Eric and Buddy, which almost brought down the roof of the United Center, and a second traditional, slow blues number, Drowning On Dry Land, which Buddy sang. When the second song ended, EC and Buddy hugged, then everyone walked offstage with little acknowledgement to the crowd. The lights remained low for a minute with the crowd going nuts, expecting more, when the house lights came up. There was a collective groan that was very audible. For me, this was a disappointment. As a lifelong Chicagoan, I, like many others, have the good fortune to see Buddy play around town from time to time; at his club (Legends), at Blues Fest in Grant Park, etc. I am not knocking Buddy Guy when I say that I paid a lot of money to see and hear EC and SW last night. While Buddy's appearance was fantastic, it was at the expense of Little Wing, Dear Mr. Fantasy, and Cocaine. And the band not acknowledging the fans at the end of the show was just a tad awkward and left me feeling like a 9 out of 10 for the evening.
All in all, it was another phenomenal EC / SW experience, one which I hope to relive should the guys choose to bring it on back to Sweet Home Chicago.
Review by Mark Majszak / Calumet City IL
This was the 7th time I had seen Clapton and the third time Winwood, But together they brought out the best in each other. Smiling and hugging after a few songs let you know how humbled these icons are. I think Clapton gets better with age, this concert was not for the occassional fan, but for the hardcore folks, energy from start to finish with a great mix of music. Abe Laboriel, Jr. on drums was amazing as was Chris Stainton on keyboards. The ladies on backing vocals - Michelle John and Sharon White - were a perfect fit. I had a few first time Clapton / Winwood concert goers with me and they were blown away! The hair on my arms stood up for most of the show. What a treat!
Review by Patrick T / Saint Louis
I have seen EC thirteen times now - ranging from the Journeyman tour through both Crossroads Guitar Festivals and two of the Cream MSG reunion shows and the Chicago stop of the Clapton / Winwood tour ranks as one of the best! Eric's playing was the most inspired that I have seen from him in a long time.
One thing that made this show so outstanding and memorable for me was the setlist. Although I like "Nobody Knows You", "Tell the Truth" and "Little Wing", I preferred hearing "How Long", "Split Decision" and "Crossroads". The latter song was quite fitting to include since the only time that Clapton recorded it in the studio was with Winwood before Cream even existed. Another surprise was the omission of "Cocaine". Since this number is always such a crowd-pleaser, it took a lot of courage to cut it. With a 46-year career behind him, I have thought that Eric has become somewhat of a prisoner of his own past, but this bold move showed that to be incorrect! I applaud EC's willingness to do something so unexpected. The appearance by Buddy Guy for the encore was a unique addition to the show with two more surprise songs!
This is the third time that I've seen Steve Winwood (solo in '06 and during Crossroads '07) and he was amazing! His ability to switch from guitar to keys with such versatility added a great dynamic to the overall performance. It was quite obvious that he and Eric enjoyed performing together and they just kept pushing each other to a higher degree as the show progressed. I was completely astounded by EC's solos and phrasing throughout the night. His solos during "Voodoo Chile" were simply astounding and I have never seen him use finger-picking so masterfully during an electrified solo! By Eric and Steve sharing vocal duties throughout the night, this added yet another welcome change from the usual solo show. Having some numbers with Clapton focusing primarily or exclusively on guitar (and being the only guitarist on many numbers) allowed for some great vocal / instrumental interaction and pushed him into playing more aggressively.
Although the Madison Square Garden CD and DVD are great, that was just a warm-up compared to the current shows. If you haven't seen any of the shows of this tour, make it a priority to get tickets and go, even if you have to make a road trip to attend. Don't miss it!
Review by Josh H. / Frankfurt IL
It was my third time seeing Eric Clapton and my first for Steve Winwood, but for a friend that came with us, it was his first Clapton experience. This concert was probably definitely a great way to introduce him to a live Clapton concert!
At 8:15pm, the lights were turned off. The crowd on the floor and most of the 100 level got up as the band came out on stage. A simple "good evening" was enough to get a large cheer from the audience. Seconds later, the band went into Had to Cry Today. While I couldn't hear the crowd, as Eric went into his first solo, I knew this would be a great evening.
The immediately went into Low Down. It's not a song I think I have heard before. Still, for the evening, it was Eric's first time behind the mic. Given the blues-ish feel to the song, its no surprise on that.
Immediately after that was After Midnight. After hearing him play that live during his last tour, I was glad it was played again. It's such a fun song when live. I don't know why I think that. And as they ended the song, they went straight into Presence of The Lord. This is the first concert I've been to where it was played, and it definitely is another great song. (I should stop calling them great songs, as most of them were).
Sleeping in the Ground and Glad followed. Sleeping in the Ground isn't one of my favorite songs, but it was still good live. Glad was a good song that, for sure, I'd like to see if I can get my band to learn. The song that I quickly liked, though, was the following, Well Alright. Eric's opening riff caught my eye as a guitar player. Since then, I've tried to recreate it ... I'm still working on it.
When Tough Luck Blues started, it reminded me of the past concerts I've seen. The way this one was started made me think of Little Queen of Spades and Have You Ever Loved a Woman. I guess those blues songs in C all can start in similar ways. Nothing wrong with that, of course! Tough Luck Blues was over 7 minutes long, leaving plenty of time for great solos throughout the whole song.
As Pearly Queen started, I didn't realize it'd be such a fun song. ECs solos, again, were awesome. (And again, how can I say otherwise about his solos?) And that only got better when, after a few seconds of playing some notes, they go right into Crossroads. I like how the crowd doesn't go nuts until he starts singing. Is it that difficult to pick out a beat, key, or riff before vocals start?
After Crossroads, full of Eric and Steve singing verses and solos all around, they went into Theres a River. This is probably one of the songs lower on my list of favorites from this show. But what I did really enjoy were the vocal harmonies. I think they were just grand.
At this point, we were already over half-way through the concert. And that's when Forever Man began. It was something I was looking forward to after seeing the set lists for the earlier concerts. Amazing work from the band on this. As a side note, this is where I first noticed Eric playing a guitar out of standard tuning. Based on what he was playing, I do believe it was dropped a step in tuning.
With that great song over, the band cleared the stage, leaving Steve Winwood alone at his organ. After a few words to the audience, where he thanked the audience and said how grateful he was to be playing there, he began his solo song, Georgia on My Mind. Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy this, both his singing as well as his organ solo.
At this point, the 'acoustic' set began. This opened with Driftin'. It was slower than I expected, but it was still a cool acoustic song. I almost didn't notice the rest of the band in on this, as Eric was seemingly stealing the show with his acoustic work. I definitely need to play better acoustic like that!
How Long didn't really get my attention. But the song after, Layla, definitely got my, and everyone else's, attention! Again, this is a song that you just can't go wrong with. It was on this song that I realized, again, that Eric was playing in a dropped tuning. In this case, just a half step down.
With the same, lower tuning, they immediately followed with Can't Find My Way Home. Being a Clapton / Winwood event, you can't go through the concert without that.
With the acoustic set over, they went back, full energy, into Split Decision. This was a great song, but I was totally surprised when I heard them go straight into Voodoo Chile! I had a feeling itdd be played, but I wasn't thinking that I would be hearing it right away. But, wow, the band did great, and the audience fully appreciated all 15+ minutes of the song. It seemed like an open jam at some points, but for such a great song, it was enough for the whole band to show off.
With Voodoo Chile over, I was expecting some more powerful hits. Little Wing, Cocaine, something. But the band just called it at that. It seemed like a bit of a soft ending. But, as I already knew a bit about the encore, it was definitely worth cutting the show a bit early.
The typical encore on the tour has seemed to be Dear Mr. Fantasy. Well, we did not get that! We're Chicago. What kind of treat could we have?
Why, Buddy Guy, of course! There were some guitar volume issues at first, but once those were resolved, he was right into the song. And what other song is there to play first than Sweet Home Chicago. With both Eric and Buddy playing, it was a definite treat for Chicago. Everyone definitely was singing along! But one song isn't enough! So, why not throw in Drowning On Dry Land? There you go! Not only did Buddy do great on guitar, but vocally, he got the crowd going. He even almost got some of the band to crack up.
Sadly, after those two songs, the show was over. I was hoping for a second encore, and with how long it took for the lights to come on, it almost seemed possible. Alas, such was not to be the case. But that's fine. It was still a great night, either way!