Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Tim Carmon - keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Steve Gadd – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
01. Key To The Highway
02. Going Down Slow
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Old Love
05. I Shot The Sheriff
07. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
08. Still Got The Blues (Gary Moore)
09. Same Old Blues (JJ Cale)
10. When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful
13. Wonderful Tonight
14. Tearing Us Apart
15. Little Queen Of Spades
Last of six solo shows at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011. EC would end the run with five shows with Steve Winwood from 26 May.
Review by Saurav Dutt
Clapton's last solo night at the Albert Hall was overall emphatic and typically performed with technical excellence and strength despite a general feeling of tiredness amongst the band and some flubs. The only criticism of the latest run is that it is bogged down in predictability, given that it was the last night for instance an electric 'Layla' wouldn't have seemed out of place and there was very little variation in the setlist at all. Opener 'Key the Highway' surprisingly lacked as much guitar work as the other nights (I attended opening night at the night after that) with EC opting to leave out an extra solo after the first verse. The new arrangement of 'Hoochie Coochie Man' definitely has a rollicking funk underlying its blues base with EC breaking out into a wide grin as the song started. 'Going down Slow' was also performed with gusto and of course the highlight of the pre-acoustic part of the set was 'Old Love' with a beautiful teasing solo reminiscent of the one performed at the 1999 Crossroads fundraiser concert in New York Madison Square Gardens, the solo was mind boggling starting slowly and building up with some wonderful string bends supplementing Carmon's solo run on the keyboard to end the song.
The acoustic set was wonderful though 'When somebody thinks you're wonderful' was marred by a flubbed piano intro by Chris Stainton which even had Clapton looking around in bemusement at one point-don't know how many viewers picked up on that. Interestingly 'Still got the blues' got a fairly lukewarm reception compared to the other two nights, perhaps this audience weren't too familiar with Gary Moore's signature song.
As the electric got plugged back in 'Badge' showed why it was the crowd pleaser it has always been and had the fairly sedate crowd rocking in their seats, 'Wonderful Tonight' was trotted out with minimal fuss and interestingly after a lengthy (for Eric between songs) pause after the song where EC faced the band, muttered a few things with them and then shook his head (perhaps vetoing a last night run of electric 'Layla' perhaps?) before launching into the last part of set. Interestingly Clapton flubbed the intro to Wonderful Tonight and angrily cried out not much like when his strap fell off during The Last Waltz!
All in all it was a powerful performance though some changes would have been appreciated just to liven up a set which was essentially a little tinkering from the one played two years ago and in Japan before that.
Review by Ken Norris
Last night of the solo shows. And what a great show! EC came out ready to play, and then some. An energetic Key to the Highway, followed by a Going Down Slow that wasn't going down slow--it was played a little quicker than usual and had quite a bit of life to it and a good groove. Followed by the "new" arrangement of Hoochie Coochie Man, for which I and a few others gave the band a standing ovation. The riff is played twice as fast, and the song is still using stop-time, but just barely. I loved it.
The night before, the solo on Old Love went nowhere. Not on this night. One of the best, if not the best I have ever heard--EC fully committed, eyes closed, deep in the trance of playing it. And then a I Shot The Sheriff that was definitely top drawer.
His playing was really good on this night. LOTS of notes flying every which way on Driftin', but also really tasteful, all of the notes serving a purpose. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out is always good. Still Got The Blues--kudos to Tim Carmon on both the 23rd and 24th for playing two really expressive and sensitive keyboard solos. A nice precise arrangement. Same Old Blues is on its way to becoming my favorite JJ Cale song. TC needs to lose the circus organ on When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful, but I love the song. Karaoke Layla was the only song they played all night that really didn't do it for me. It's time to retire this arrangement and replace it with either the traditional Derek and the Dominos electric version, or the new Wynton Marsalis slinky jazz version.
A very solid Badge was followed by an okay reading of WT. Then they played not one of my favorite songs - Tearing Us Apart - and made me like it. LOTS of fine EC soloing on a rather high energy version of the song. Not one, not two, but THREE rounds of EC soloing on the opening of Little Queen of Spades. It was one of those nights when he so obviously wanted to be there, playing the blues, singing the blues. Very good keyboard solos from both Stainton and Carmon, the final verse, the key change up to D, and EC brought it all to a very tasty conclusion.
Cocaine sounded like its usual self, not rushed but stretched out. On the 23rd when they started the encore I thought they were starting Further On Up The Road, but it wound up being Crossroads. Tonight it was Crossroads clearly being Crossroads.
Now on to the shows with Winwood!