Eric Clapton - guitar, vocals
Steve Winwood - hammond organ, guitar, vocals
Chris Stainton - keyboards
Willie Weeks - bass
Ian Thomas - drums
01. Had To Cry Today
02. Low Down
03. Forever Man
04. Them Changes
05. Sleeping In The Ground
06. Presence Of The Lord
07. Glad / Well Alright
08. Double Trouble
09. Pearly Queen
10. Tell The Truth
11. No Face
12. After Midnight
13. Split Decision
14. Kind Hearted Woman Blues (EC solo)
15. Georgia On My Mind (SW solo)
16. Little Wing
17. Voodoo Chile
18. Can't Find My Way Home
20. Dear Mr. Fantasy (encore)
Night 3 of 3 at MSG ...
Review by Billy O'Donnell
Quite a contrast from the Blind Faith 7/14/69 garden show though the revolving stage at that time gave more folks a closer look.
Having felt that Clapton's work with Cream and Blind Faith was his most compelling for me, I thought that his guitar duets last night with Winwood recalled those days even more so than the recent Cream concerts which were wonderful but lacking those fiery call and response improvisations which distinguished Clapton and Bruce from all others. The Clapton and Winwood guitar duets are more jelling than jamming.where Winwood's earthy soulful notes weave in and out of Clapton's more ethereal style. Time seems to suspend through those mesmerizing stretches. Voodoo Chile for me was the most pleasant surpise of the show. So reminescent of Ray Charles, Winwood's vocals beautifully complemented Clapton's solo effort which contained some extraordinary and unpredictable riffs. I think that somewhere Jimi was smilinig appreciatively. Hopefully these two artists (together) will continue to grace our muscial conciousness for some years to come.
Review by David Gourlay / Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Last night, the collaboration of Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood delivered for a sold out crowd at Madison Square Gardens. Of the lengthy setlist these two legendary British musicians focused on, highlights included "Low Down", "Double Trouble" as Eric's nightly blues standard, "Voodoo Child" with blistering guitar from Eric in which a smooth and delicate interplay between Winwood and Clapton simply clicked, as it did with, "The Presence of the Lord", "Tell the Truth" and the always engaging, "Can't Find My Home". These two flawlessly exchange piano and guitar solos, not to mention strong vocals. Also, Winwood's clear piano work on "Sleeping on the Ground", "Georgia On My Mind" and of course, what a delight to hear "Forever Man" from the mid 80's. Always nice to hear Eric's work complemented by piano / organ wisdom, especially on blues standards. Well done, Eric, for adding Robert Johnson to evening with "Kind Hearted Woman" blues - acoustic playing is his natural behaviour.
The chemistry shone throughout the more than 2 hr repertoire leaving us with a yearning for more original Blind Faith from the late 60's. Eric is only getting stronger as a guitar player now with a relaxing and confident nature that is inspiring and articulate. Let's hope for more of this rewarding approach to music and collaboration well into the future.
Review by Jerry Gips
Let me begin by making the sacrilegious comment that this was a far superior show to any of the New York Cream shows. I was constantly amazed by the overall chemistry between Clapton and Winwood and their ability to intertwine guitars, keyboards and vocals. Eric in particular seemed very comfortable and relaxed with Winwood as a musical partner and this was reflected in the approach to, quality and length of his guitar solos. Clapton was ON last night, in a big way. Otherworldly guitar soloing on Voodoo Chile, Double Trouble, Glad, Had To Cry Today and Little Wing which literally brought tears to my eyes while Presence of the Lord, Dear Mr Fantasy, Well Alright, Can't Find My Way Home, Pearly Queen, Tell The Truth and After Midnight were nearly as amazing . I thought Cocaine seemed a bit out of place in the setlist but was well performed nevertheless with an absolutely brilliant solo from Chris Stainton! Not one mailed in, autopilot solo throughout. Loved the mini-unplugged section from both artists and the band was in fine form too! What a great show. I do not think the newspaper reviews accurately reflected just how good the two headliners, this band and the overall performance was. Not bad for a couple of "old men."
Review by Michael Feinman / New York
I am a veteran concert go-er....since 1973 and have seen both men a number of times. By far, this was one of the top 5 shows I have ever seen. They were both in incredible form, sounding and looking more relaxed then in years. I saw Cream in '05 and EC was a different person. I don't think he actually said anything last night; he let his fingers do the talking. Watching the screen above, we could see how nimble his fingers still are. There were sounds coming from his guitar that I have never heard before. I had heard that this tour was all about SW with EC as a back up player. That couldn't be further from the truth. They were equal. I think both guys spurred each other to play harder, better and cleaner then they had in years. The shear joy of playing together was reflected in their playing, singing, body language and general atmosphere on stage. For my money, Little Wing, Voodoo Child and Georgia were the highlights. But then so was Forever Man, After Midnight and Glad. Ray Charles would be proud of SW's version of Georgia. Actually, the more I think about it, there wasn't a bad choice all night..the pacing was perfect. I don't know what the NYTimes were thinking but their review was way off base.
Review by Karen Lynn / Crofton, Maryland
I came from Maryland to see this show! My brother & I share birthdays in February. We both love the music of Stevie Winwood & Eric Clapton and have often shared their music together growing up. I have been a fan of Stevie Winwood in particular for 40 yrs!! (yes, showing my age in that comment aren't I?) I am a recent breast cancer survivor and decided if the opportunity to see Mr. Winwood came along... I'd go! I had the pleasure to see him perform in a small venue at the Ram's Head Live in Baltimore 2 yrs ago and can only say it was a THRILL of a lifetime for me!
When I got notice of the concert with Mr. Winwood and Mr. Clapton performing together in NYC - I knew it was one of those life experiences I didn't want to let pass by. I bought a ticket for my brother and we took the train from Phila and went to the last night of the concert together. What we felt was excitement and true joy that we were there to hear them perform. I was there for sentimental reasons spending time with my brother as much as I was there to enjoy the show. I will never forget this experience which was once in a life time for me. I was totally blown away by the concert! There was a special energy and happiness to be felt watching them play together. What a PLEASURE it was to see these men play together and compliment each other as musicians! On one level - I felt young again - as if I were back at a high school dance just having fun as the band jammed together. There was a time during the show Eric was tapping his feet as he played and I believe he was having as much fun as the audience. After all these many years both Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton are at their peak as musicians. I had never seen Eric Clapton in concert and his guitar riffs were astounding. I enjoyed their performance of Voo Doo Child which was simply amazing. During the performance I felt sheer gladness about being alive and that I was fortunate to be able to be there to see them play. I think they poured their hearts out to the audience during the concert and it was a true gift of music to their fans. What more is there to say?
If I could say anything to these fine men it would be to tell them thank you for the wonderful music - it's a moment in time I will not forget. Age hasn't slowed them down. I witnessed two master musicians at the top of their game. May they have many more years ahead of them.
Review by Duncan Devlin
Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood walked out onto the stage. The rest of the band took their places, and be kicked off this legendary show exactly as they had their debut album. The lights above the stage lit up as Clapton and Winwood laid down the signature riff of Had to Cry Today. The band joined in, and audience lit up. The sound coming off the amplifier could only be described as magnificent. Anyone in its wake could feel the music rush over him or her, and the reality of how amazing this concert would be finally took hold. This show boasted some of the tightest guitar playing I have ever heard, and I've seen Clapton a dozen times in my short life span. Every solo, every note soared to perfection, almost to the point where you could hear what note was coming next before they even played it.
Of the myriad of people to accompany Clapton over the years, Steve Winwood was by far the best. The heart and soul he put into every note brought their collective playing to a level reminiscent of Cream and their last visit to the Garden. Never have I heard to musicians trade off that spectacularly. Throughout the entire show, the passion would just build, finally climaxed at the end of Dear Mr. Fantasy. Eric plays a riff, Steve plays a riff, then two thwo play a few notes together that create a rush of energy usually reserved for the arms of a lover. A few more notes, the customary bows, and they're off. Now to drop $200 on merchandise to remember the show forever.
Review by Steve Polezonis, Cromwell CT
This was my 9th time seeing EC since that first incredible time in Springfield, Mass in 1975. This was, by far, the best I've seen him, and that includes the fantastic 'Blues Concert' in Hartford in 1994. Hearing him sing and play the same melody simultaneously as he did on "Voodoo Child" was remarkable...and he channeled not only Jimi but Muddy Waters as well (that's where Jimi got the riff). His tribute to Otis Rush on "Double Trouble" was outstanding and the otherworldly tones, phrasing and scaling on Steve Winwood's material shows just how incredibly versatile and eclectic his playing is...from straight blues to psychedilic to Middle Eastern/Indian...and often in one song! Mesmerizing and thrilling to say the least. After Midnight and Forever Man were brilliant as well. The interplay between the two artists was great and the enjoyment of both was obvious, with Steve's versatility on display as well. His keyboard skills are first rate and he's very expressive on guitar. While I'm not a huge fan of his vocals, he has mellowed, a bit, with age, and he was right on. The rhythm section was spot on with great playing by Chris Stainton and understated, rock solid playing by Willie Weeks and Ian Thomas. My only complaint...the sound wasn't always great...vocal mics and/or guitars at times not balanced well...either EC's or SW's turned up too high or not high enough. Despite the somewhat spotty sound man, the vocals of both SW and EC were great. And there's nothing like the sound of a B3! Fantastic. As for the crowd, most were into it and reveling in the great music (who cares if we didn't hear "Layla"...haven't we heard that enough?), but what's with 60 year olds acting like 17 year olds? Arriving hammered and stumbling about and eventually passing out 2/3 of the way through? At roughly $180. per ticket (section 336), I want to enjoy and savor every note and nuance...enough time for cocktails after the show! Same story in Uncasville in '06. Anyway, the music more than made up for a couple of over age, overweight morons. Here's to more collaborations and looking foward to EC in June!
Review by J. Blake Fichera / New York City
I am a life long Clapton fan and I've been lucky enough to have seen some landmark Slowhand shows, including the Cream Reunion in 2005 and the Eric Clapton and Friends Benefit Concert at MSG for the Crossroads Center in 1999. On February 28, 2008 I was once again very fortunate and saw Clapton and Winwood live at Madison Square Garden.
I have now seen Mr. Clapton in concert, somewhere in the ballpark of 10 times and I can honestly say that this show may have been the best live Clapton performance I have seen to date. Right from the opening guitar riff to Had to Cry Today it was evident that Winwood and Clapton were having fun, which was something that was clearly lacking from the Cream Reunion, MSG shows. They ran through all of the expected Blind Faith songs and even the unexpected Sleeping in the Ground, which was a staple for Blind Faith's live sets. The song didn't make it to an official CD release until Winwood's 1995 box set titled Finer Things and then again on 2001's Deluxe Edition of the Blind Faith's only album. The most surprising thing about hearing these Blind Faith classics was the fact that Winwood's singing voice has not changed at all in 40 years. Due to modern advancements in instrumental technology the music sounded updated, but Winwood's voice sounded exactly like it did on the 1969 vinyl LP.
Hearing those songs was amazing, but the real gems of the night were the songs that were not from the Blind Faith album or performed at the landmark 2007 Highclere Castle & Crossroads Guitar Festival performances. Perhaps the most shocking moment for me was when, just three songs in to the show, the ever so familiar riff to 1985's Forever Man came screaming out of Clapton's amp. I have read other reviews for these shows where they refer to this song as a Clapton staple, but he really has not performed this song regularly live in almost 20 years. It was probably one of the last "hits" I would have expected to hear at this show, and yet there it was.....and it was awesome!
Other highlights of the show included the Traffic classic Glad, Winwood's Split Decision and also Winwood's moving solo rendition of Georgia on My Mind on Hammond organ. As for Clapton, it was clear that he came to play that night as he and the band eased their way into what would become a blistering and furious version of Otis Rush's Double Trouble. In my book this performance alone was worth the price of admission. On this song that was once a staple of his 70's live sets, Clapton safely secured his status as a "Guitar God" and laid any worries to rest that he may be losing his fire in his old age.
As an enormous fan of Derek and the Dominos, hearing Tell the Truth and Little Wing was quite a thrill. I read comments that Tell the Truth sounded "empty without Derek Trucks' slide fills." Well, there are clearly a few things wrong with that statement. If it was missing anything, it would have been the slide work of the late Duane Allman! On the contrary I found it to be a fine rendition. Let's not forget that Clapton played this song without a second guitar player for the entire Dominos tour. It was a treat to hear Winwood filling in on the Whitlock parts for both this song and the Hendrix classic.
Following what I found to be quite a moving version of Little Wing, Clapton shocked the audience by singing and playing the opening line and riff to Hendrix's Voodoo Chile (not the Slight Return version). The slow, throbbing and muddy rhythm combined with Winwood's soulful vocal conjured the spirits of the blues greats like a mythic Voodoo ritual. Clapton seemed to channel his old friend Jimi as he rifled off several "face melting" solos and guitar fills. The version grooved on for 16+ minutes and put the audience into a blues induced trance. It was breathtaking.
The two legends finished the show with Blind Faith's most famous song Cant' Find My Way Home, a lackluster version of the tired Clapton staple Cocaine and a fitting encore of the Traffic classic Dear Mr. Fantasy. It is also worth noting that Clapton's solo acoustic performance for this show was of Robert Johnson's Kind Hearted Woman, where as for both of the two previous shows he played a different Johnson classic, Ramblin' On My Mind.
I was quite fortunate to be able to attend one of only three of these amazing and historic performances. For all you fans that were no able to attend, an inside source informed me that all three of concerts were filmed. With any luck we will be treated to a DVD documenting these truly amazing shows.
Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood: Live From Madison Square Garden (CD and DVD)
See the EC FAQ entry for exact track listing and performance dates
Blind Faith (Mid Valley 452/53/54/55/56/57 / 6 CD)