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23 May 2015 - Eric Clapton & His Band

Location

Royal Albert Hall London
United Kingdom
Band Lineup: 

Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Chris Stainton – piano, keyboards
Paul Carrack - organ, keyboards, vocals
Nathan East – bass
Steve Gadd – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals

Support: 
Andy Fairweather Low & The Low Riders
Set List: 

01. SOMEBODY KNOCKING
02. KEY TO THE HIGHWAY
03. PRETENDING
04. HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN
05. YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL - Paul Carrack (vocals)
06. CAN’T FIND MY WAY HOME - Nathan East (vocals)
07. I SHOT THE SHERIFF
08. ROCK ME BABY
09. NOBODY KNOWS YOU WHEN YOU'RE DOWN AND OUT
10. TEARS IN HEAVEN
11. LAYLA
12. LET IT RAIN
13. WONDERFUL TONIGHT
14. CROSSROADS
15. LITTLE QUEEN OF SPADES
16. COCAINE
17. HIGH TIME WE WENT (ENCORE) – Paul Carrack (vocals), with guest Andy Fairweather Low

Show Notes: 

The 2015 residency at the Royal Albert Hall was in celebration of Eric Clapton's 70th birthday on 30 March 2015. The concerts also mark the fifty years since he first played the venue on 7 December 1964 with The Yardbirds.

Unlike the previous two evenings, this concert was not filmed or recorded for potential release. 

At this performance, Rock Me Baby was performed in place of Driftin' in tribute to BB King, who had passed away on 14 May, age 89. 

Eric told the audience it had been a "fantastic but tought week", thanked them for their support through the years and bid farewell with "see you down the road somewhere".

Fan Reviews: 

Review by Andrew Dobson
I have been attending Eric's concerts since the "Beano" album with John Mayall. I have witnessed since that time the most extraordinary guitar playing from quite simply the best guitarist there has ever been such that each time I see him I think that his playing cannot be bettered. How wrong could I be because on 18 and 23 May 2015 I was simply blown away by him! A man of 70 years of age who according to the programme notes "struggles" a bit these days produced performances of such dazzling brilliance they beggared belief. I am not going to go through his set lists song by song but suffice to say that his solos on for example "Sherriff" and "Queen of Spades" were beyond description. His solo construction and structure, timing, phrasing and musicality not to mention his technique on the Fender truly set him apart from all other great guitarists.Also vocally (with the help of a great sound crew) he is better than ever.

He even does "less is more" better than anyone else. His beautiful playing on his sit down medley with that gorgeous technique he has was spellbinding.

He saved the very best for 23 May. He was like a man possessed and the RAH was mesmerised by him. I felt very emotional when he finally left the stage and I knew that would be the case. Will I ever see him again? Can he ever go into full retirement?

I feel very blessed that he has been such a constant presence in my life sustaining me through the highs and lows. I have always had his music to fall back on.

I cannot wait for the DVD of the shows to be released.

God bless you Eric! 

Review by Jonathan Child
What a night…Before even taking our seats for the evening, reading the first page of the programme set the tone:
 
Hi folks… I swear this is it, no more, three score and ten and I really didn’t expect to make it past thirty…
 
I know I’ve been threatening retirement for the last fifty years, but I didn’t think I’d ever really want to stop…
 
I love what I do and always have done, but over the past few decades I’ve found what I was always really looking for, a loving family who love me just the way I am, which means I can relax and rest when I need to, and more and more I treasure the beauty of that…
 
Also for some reason, it does seem a little harder now that it did when I was fifty, (or even sixty), so please bear with me if it looks like I’m struggling up there at times, it’s not like it used to be but I’m determined to share this birthday with you…
 
Hopefully, I might be able to remember and breathe some life into this old stuff I’ve been carting around all these years, but even if it does look like I’m struggling from time to time, in truth believe me, with these great guys to play with, I’ll be having the time of my life!...
 
Thanks for coming out tonight, and I hope to be able to do my best for you…
 
Eric C
 
And he did! Straight out on stage and straight into Somebody Knocking followed by Key to the Highway, EC had the residents of the Hall captivated.
 
The old Journeyman favourite Pretending saw EC demonstrate his mastership of the Wah Wah pedal as he ripped into a ferocious solo which saw his fretwork at its best with ferocious flurries up and down the neck of the Sunburst EC Strat.
 
Following on was crowd pleaser Hoochie Coochie Man and then he stood back as Paul Carrack took the reigns for You Are So Beautiful, which was performed with soul.
 
Nathan East was next to occupy the spotlight following a haunting intro with EC providing delicate and touching lead fills into Can’t Find My Way Home. The trend of diversified intros was the same for the following track I Shot the Sheriff. EC’s vocals in particular were extremely powerful but remained understated compared to the guitar solos that just flowed through the old genius. It has to be the best version witnessed at a concert yet and have witnessed quite a number of renditions over the years!
 
Off came the Strat and out came the chair and trusty Martin Acoustic…
 
Following the sad news of BB King’s passing earlier in the week Eric entertained the crowd with a heart felt performance of Rock Me Baby. The unplugged theme continued with classic Nobody Knows You followed by a rather upbeat/reggae Tears In Heaven. In usual EC fashion the unplugged set was concluded with Layla.
 
From here things went up a notch!!!
 
From a sat down serene acoustic set EC picked back up the Strat and tore into Let It Rain! Absolute classic Clapton! This was followed by a hasty rendition of Wonderful Tonight, albeit polished.
 
If things had a gone up a notch before then things were turned up to 11!
 
Like a man possessed, EC ripped into Crossroads! Again, a number that has been witnessed on a number of occasions was listened to with a new enthusiasm. A level of energy and aggression that would be expected of an artist at least 40 years his junior! This then led directly into Little Queen of Spades which continued in the same vein as EC ran up and down the fretboard with the devil’s urge! It didn’t stop there as the show closer Cocaine saw the crowd get to their feet and make their way to the front of the stage to egg him on even further as every note from both the guitar and mic crashed around the Hall.
 
In time honored fashion it was merely a few minutes before EC and the gang returned to the stage, this time accompanied by Andy Fairweather-Low. Whilst the crowd were applauding upon their heroes return, EC asked the audience for a moment. 
 
He went on to thank everyone and that it had been a hard week but worth it and that he may see us again’ further down the road’.
 
Being a veteran on the EC Tour circuit I can honestly say that last night I was tempted to purchase a can of car spray paint and repeat history with graffiti throughout London.
 
Hopefully we will see EC again soon, but if not then I could not think of a more fitting way to say goodbye to an ‘old friend’.
 
Thank you EC.
 
Review by Kris Verrelst
What a night it was. Some strong soloing during "Pretending" and "Cocaine" but enough space for the other musicians like Paul, Nathan and Chris to make a strong appearance especially during "Can't Find My Way Home". I went to a blues club the night before and Eric and his band could create that same feeling during "Little Queen of Spades", all the people together, crammed up in a hot crowded club. I've seen EC before (first time in Ghent during the "Nothing But The Blues Tour"), but it has been something I wanted to do for nearly 25 years: attend a concert in the RAH. It was a great night!!!
 
Review by Brad Newsom
What a wonderful last night at the Albert Hall. I also just realized I think this may have been my 30th show, and certainly rates as one of the good ones. I went to the two shows at the Garden and the last show of the Albert Hall run on the 23rd. While each show was special in its own way, I particularly enjoyed this last one at the RAH. Eric was loose and not "playing it safe" and although that may mean a missed note here and there, the high points were excellent, as was the interplay with Steve Gadd and Nathan East in particular. They might not have been filming that night but that might have allowed them to let loose a little more and take more chances.

Solo high points for me on the 23rd were Little Queen of Spades, I Shot the Sheriff, Rock Me Baby, Crossroads, and Cocaine. Sheriff was an excellent rendition with great dynamics and interplay between Steve and Eric with a terrific build up in the solo. Queen of Spades truly stopped time and took your breath away in that way only Eric can do. Overall the night had the feel of a group of guys truly enjoying playing with each other, genuinely savoring the last time they might get to play these songs for a while. The sound was excellent at the RAH, better than the last time I was there previously a few years ago. Nothing quite beats a good show at the Albert Hall.

The first night at MSG (1 May) also had some real special highlights, Eric and the band were really on their game and the version of Let It Rain with Doyle, Derek, and Eric was unparalleled. Also You Are So Beautiful was particularly moving. The whole night sounded really well rehearsed (the venue staff said they had been there most of the day running through the set with Roger Waters in attendance as well) and no mistakes to be heard. EC's voice was in fine form on that night in particular. Excellent overall, but I also liked getting to see Eric without all the guests with comfortable range to roam by himself at the RAH.

I ran into Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule, Allman Brothers Band) at the last RAH show, who came out here to catch EC himself.

In equipment notes it looks like Eric switched out the speakers in the Bandmaster reissues to ceramic Celestions and used the new sunburst custom Strat for the three shows I saw.