Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Andy Fairweather Low – guitar / vocals
Billy Preston – hammond organ
David Sancious – keyboards / guitar / vocals
Nathan East – bass / vocals
Steve Gadd – drums
Buddy Guy – guitar / vocals *
01. Key To The Highway
03. Got You On My Mind
04. Tears In Heaven
05. Bell Bottom Blues
06. Change The World
07. My Father's Eyes
08. River Of Tears
09. Going Down Slow
10. She's Gone
11. I Want A Little Girl
13. Hoochie Coochie Man *
14. Stone Crazy > Blues Jam *
16. Wonderful Tonight
18. Sunshine Of Your Love (encore)
19. Somewhere Over The Rainbow (encore)
Review by Dixon J. Novy
Last Tuesday night at the United Center, Eric Clapton presented another chapter in his life to a group of 12,000 young and old fans for two solid hours from his resume’ of hits. It was truly the best concert I’ve ever seen E.C. perform. It was full of surprises and classics. I am not a writer, but one helluva Clapton fan for many years, and I just wish to share the experience with a few of you.
After the lights went down, Mr. Clapton walked nonchalantly to a wooden chair positioned in the middle of a Persian rug at center stage. Under the spotlight, he proceeded to take us back to 1970 with a stirring acoustic solo of “Key to the Highway”; the genius proved he doesn’t need a band to back him up. They did come onstage to join him for the instrumental “Reptile” with Billy Preston, as well as his band mates, showing Chicago why they are on tour with the greatest musician of all time by shining in his key pounding solo. E.C. picked up the tempo a bit with “Got You On My Mind”. “Tears in Heaven” showed us again the love he has for his son Conner. He has always played it like the first time, full of emotion and giving the audience a look into his soul with the emotional honesty of the song. It was the only quiet moment of the show, if there were any. He came back to Derek & the Dominos for a heart warming “Bell Bottom Blues”. The master would start out his songs by trying to throw you off as what tune was next. He would drop a hint or shall I say chord, of what was coming and keep on jamming. I think he was halfway through “Change the World” before the young wiper snappers knew the song. This ended the acoustic segment, the party started when he plugged in the Fender. The new daddy to be took us on a Pilgrimage with “My Father’s Eyes”, his ode to Princess Di on “River of Tears”, “Going Down Slow” and “She’s Gone”. Do you think he was trying to tell us something with “I Want a Little Girl”? He then Creamed us with eight-minute endless version of the classic “Badge”. Clapton is God!!! He couldn’t come through Chicago without bringing his old friend, Buddy Guy on stage to join him for the jaw dropping, dueling Fenders version of “Hoochie Coochie Man”. They were all smiles, like a couple of kids having fun. Buddy tried to leave, but much to the encouragement of the crowd and E.C., he stayed to play his own “Stone Crazy”. Then came another teasing riff that eventually broke out into a rafter-shattering version of “Cocaine”. The audience pared up with their mates for another sing-a-long, “Wonderful Tonight”. What would a Clapton concert be without the plugged in version of “Layla”? Chills and goose bumps accompanied this classic that seemed to go on forever. The band left the stage, but we knew it wouldn’t be for long. The encore consisted of the no-holds-barred, “Sunshine of Your Love”, to a backdrop of psychedelic, late sixties, light show that took us back to our first trip. It was pretty far out man! Is there another person on this world that has big enough balls to end a fan screaming ballad and rock show with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”? It was a very soothing. What class! You should have seen him smiling when the audience participated by providing birdcalls during the refrain; ‘Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly, birds fly over the rainbow, why then, oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?’ How appropriate. The programs hints that this could be the last WORLD TOUR for Slowhand, which is why he is playing at such places as Russia and Mexico for his first time. Need I remind you that he may not go on another World Tour, but I would bet my first born that he’ll be back to tour the states. Thanks for the ride Eric, it’s been fun. Please, come see us again.
Review by Bruce Kahn
Why is it that we hardcore E.C. fanatics travel to different cities around the country / world to see him? Its quite simple - we never know what we're going to get from one show to the next. The Detroit and Toronto shows were average at best. Going into the two Chicago shows, I expected it to be a few notches better. And guess what? This boy was not disappointed at all. Chicago is one of the cities that I would recommend to anyone planning on seeing Eric, since it has always seemed to bring out his true guitar soul. And having Buddy Guy around doesn't hurt either.
The set was the same as previous shows, with the exception of one surprise encore on July 25, and the insertion of "I Want A Little Girl" replacing "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight". Could Julia Rose have played a part in that? Eric has always seemed to get off on the Chicago crowds over the years and for good reason. They're some of the best fans around. This Detroiter would take the Chicago shows and audiences over my own, so what does that tell you? Nowhere else did I hear near capacity crowds singing along to Eric's set. And I swear every fan in the United Center was singing along with him on "Bell Bottom Blues" both nights. That gave me a high for sure.
Eric's soloing was on and then some. I can't remember when I walked away from a show these past few years thinking that the best solo of the night could have been on "My Father's Eyes". What does that say? Of course we have to put "She's Gone" and "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" right there as well. And with Buddy Guy helping out on "Hoochie Coochie Man" and his own "Stone Crazy" on the first night, the solo trade offs there will ring in my mind for several years to come.
One nice surprise I got from these shows was seeing the return of Billy Preston. He adds a dimension to both the sound and visual that was missing from the shows I saw previously. And the band had to enjoy his return as well, since the first encore on night two was given to him. Who ever expected to hear "Will It Go 'Round In Circles" in place of "Sunshine"? A welcomed surprise to all in attendance for sure.
If this is in fact the last go around for Eric (and I don't believe it to be), he left the audiences from both these nights with memories of a musician who gave his best to fans who most definitely deserved the best. Your "spiritual home" is right there in Chicago, Eric. Please come back for another visit - and thanks again for some wonderful memories.
Review by SAE
I was privileged to be able to attend both Clapton Chicago concerts on July 24 and July 25. This first account concerns the July 24 concert.
When I arrived at the United Center on Tuesday evening, I noticed that the crowd of about 12,000 was a mix of young and old Clapton fans. The mood was restless and many of the fans' voices were loud. It had been a hot and humid day (in the 90's). Eric strolled on stage alone without his band in a white short sleeved shirt (untucked) and denim jeans. He wore white running shoes with a red design. It seemed he had put on a little weight since I last saw him three years ago. He took a seat and an acoustic guitar and greeted the audience with a hello and said it was nice to be back. The audience roared. Chicago clearly loves Eric Clapton.
He started with "Key to the Highway" and then his band joined him to play "Reptile". He then introduced his band. The audience still wasn't able to settle down yet. Eric and his band went on to play songs from "Pilgrim," "Reptile", some blues and Eric classics such as "Cocaine", "Wonderful Tonight" and "Layla". At one point for "Hoochie Coochie Man", Buddy Guy took the stage. The audience roared. Chicago also loves this Bluesman. Buddy played another song and the audience was absolutely riveted. The encore was "Sunshine of Your Love" and Eric finished the evening alone with an acoustic version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Altogether there were 19 songs.
After the band took their bows to the audience, I noticed that guitarist, Andy Fairweather Low patted Eric on the right shoulder and must have said something about a fine performance. Eric shook his head "no." He was clearly disappointed in the evening and quickly left the stage. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, as Eric and his band gave a solid performance, I felt something was missing, but nothing would keep me from going back to see him perform the next evening.