Eric Clapton - guitar, vocals
Doyle Bramhall II - guitar, backing vocals
Chris Stainton - keyboards
Willie Weeks - bass
Abe Laboriel Jr - drums
Michelle John - backing vocals
Sharon White - backing vocals
Sheryl Crow - vocals *
John Mayer - guitar / vocals *
Robert Randolph – pedal steel *
01. Tell The Truth
02. Key To The Highway
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Outside Woman Blues
05. Here But I'm Gone
06. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad
08. Rockin' Chair
09. Motherless Child
10. Travellin' Riverside Blues
11. Running On Faith
12. Motherless Children
13. Little Queen of Spades
14. Before You Accuse Me
15. Wonderful Tonight
18. Crossroads (encore) *
Hard Rock Calling was a two-day music festival in London's Hyde Park. Both days were filmed for later television broadcast on VH1 worldwide. Music on the main stage started at 15:00. Eric Clapton performed on this date as part of his 2008 Tour. He closed the show with a set beginning at 20:15. In addition to the main stage there was a smaller second stage in the park.
Eric did not appear during Day Two (The Police closed that show). Eric's set list was similar to that of his previous shows in Ireland and England. Sheryl Crow, John Mayer and Robert Randolph joined Eric on stage for the encore, Crossroads.
Main Stage Performers - Day One
Robert Randolph & The Family Band
Steve Boyce Band
Second Stage Performers - Day One
Review by Yvonne Mullen / Penn, Buckinghamshire
My husband and I were there, as we were back in 1996, only this time the sun shown. Eric hit the right note straight from the start with "Tell the Truth" and "Key to the Highway", but judging from the crowd's reaction I don't think the majority of them got into it until the foot tapping "Motherless Children". Nice to hear a new number "Rockin' Chair" by Hogy Carmichael, but I did get the feeling the sit down acoustic numbers did not suit the large Hyde Park area, better suited to the Albert Hall. The good old crowd pleasers "Wonderful Tonight" and "Layla" rearly got the crowd rocking. Eric looked relaxed and he seemed to be enjoying himself. This was my 21st EC concert and one of the better ones. Looking forward to the next concert (hopefully at the Albert Hall next year)!
Review by Sesh Nadathur / Oxford
Although I have been a very committed fan for many years now, this was my first Clapton concert. Of course I have seen footage of several other concerts of his over the years, so I thought I knew what to expect, but I was wrong. For a start, I wasn't expecting the set list that he played. I knew Eric had been playing several songs from the Dominos days recently (and there were four), but I had deliberately avoided reading reviews of his recent concerts so I wouldn't know what other songs he had planned. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised. There seemed to be one from most of his major albums, but not always the most obvious choice, and I had never heard live versions of quite a few of them - but perhaps some others in the crowd would have wanted more of the standard staples (for instance, 'Sunshine of Your Love' and 'Badge' were missing).
One of the most noticeable things about Clapton in recent years has been that although he may have lost a bit of technical ability with the guitar over the years (as he freely admits himself), what he has gained is a superb knowledge of just how to work a song for maximum effect. He is quite generous in the amount of stage time he gives to Doyle Bramhall II, and his own solos are shorter and less adventurous these days, but he always breaks in at precisely the right moment and manages to work the song up to a crescendo. His voice has also improved a lot; it now has a deep gravelly quality to it, which sits perfectly with the blues he sings.
This concert started a bit slowly: "Tell the Truth" was good, but not quite as good as the performance from Crossroads 2007. "Hoochie Coochie Man" never seems to really sit very well with the live treatment he gives it, as it appears to little too rock-influenced for my more bluesy tastes. "Outside Woman Blues" was a bit of a surprise, and a very welcome one, but I felt the solo was a little uninspired.
This was followed by "Here But I'm Gone", which I had never heard before and then Eric fluffed the lyrics a little in the first verse of "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad". Luckily this was rescued by a beautiful guitar duet at the end of the song, but at this point I was bracing for disappointment.
Then came the sit-down, acoustic part of the set. A bit of a strange choice in the middle of the concert perhaps, but "Driftin'", which he played without any accompaniment at all, was very good, and "Motherless Child" and "Travellin' Riverside Blues" were both great as well. "Running on Faith" was pure joy, very similar to the version on "Unplugged", but here in particular you could hear the improvement in Clapton's voice in the last few years.
The set really got going again with "Motherless Children". Not I have to confess, my favourite song, but a great one for getting the crowd in the mood with Willie Weeks and Abe Laboriel Jr providing a wonderful driving rhythm, and Clapton pleasing with his slide guitar.
The real gem of the show was what followed though; "Little Queen of Spades" was beautifully done, with a proper blues feel to it and featuring a marvellous introductory Clapton solo, followed by very nice solo from Doyle (whose guitar work is far better than his voice), before Eric snapped in with perfect timing and a burst of energy to steal the show! In many ways, it was reminiscent of the performance of "Stormy Monday" from the Cream reunion gig, but not quite as good. I was particularly pleased to hear this followed by an electric version of "Before You Accuse Me", which I think is a great song that he doesn't perform often enough.
Once you hear the opening notes of "Wonderful Tonight" though, you know you are on the home leg. I have often wondered why Clapton performs this so often, especially when, as tonight, there is no new touch to it. However, the fact that the entire crowd of tens of thousands sang along to every word I think answered my question well enough! Much the same is true for "Cocaine", which also appears to be brought out at the end out of an obligation to ensure everyone leaves happy. It is a bit sad that crowds aren't just a bit more discerning! In between these two though, was a superb performance of "Layla." Another crowd-pleaser of course (the roar at the sound of that opening riff was electrifying!) but also a magnificent song in its own right with great guitar solos and a very very good version of the coda at the end.
Overall, a very good concert and Eric and the band sounded wonderful, but perhaps not quite matching up to the quality of those recent concerts that have ended up being released on DVD. For me though, the two truly hair-raising performances (of 'Little Queen of Spades' and 'Layla'), and the choice and excellent execution of many less-heard songs as part of the set made it well worth every penny spent on the ticket. If only I could get to any of the other concerts on this tour, I most certainly would.
Review by Liz / Bristol
Listening and breathing the same air as Eric Clapton on Saturday - a brilliant brilliant experience - it's taken me all these years to actually go to see him after listening to his music for so long. Eric Clapton has a presence that can't be put into words and I could listen to him all day every day of my life. Love him to bits, it all seems so natural, and the autobiography was touchingly honest about the long journey he's taken through his fame. Keep it coming Eric, we can't get enough!
Review by Kornel B. Ringli / Switzerland
I am Swiss and English is not my mother tongue. My review, therefore, will be full of mistakes, but I hope you get the gist of the matter.
First of all I have to say how amazed I am that EC manages again and again to come up with an exciting line-up and set. Every tour is so special. The songs change, the selection of the songs varies, band members come and go. One thing stays: EC concerts are musical top-notch events. There are not many musicians out there (at the age of 60 plus) who always strive for something new, for something better. But then I guess this is just a part of Clapton's nature.
In Hyde Park I was particularly fond of "Outside Woman Blues". It lingered in my ears even the following day. They played it faster and funkier than Cream did at the MSG gigs. Great! Then "Here But I'm Gone" followed. What a wonderful, touching version of the song. Eric, Doyle, Michelle and Sharon sang the chorus together which sounded great. The song was one big crescendo culminating with Eric's solo.
Of the sit-down set I particularly liked "Driftin'" and "Running on Faith", the first of which was played by Eric alone. Eric added a nice, fresh touch to "Running on Faith" by singing some parts differently. In my opinion the acoustic set was too long by one song. "Rockin' Chair" is a nice and easy song, but maybe a tad too laid-back for the current set. With his solo in "Little Queen of Spades" Doyle provided one of the highlights of the evening. So did Chris Stainton with his outstanding piano work, particularly on "Cocaine". Of course, the fabulous encore has to be mentioned. Sheryl, John and Robert joining Eric on stage will always be very special to remember.
In short, I didn't regret travelling to London from Switzerland at all and am looking forward to the Zurich gig in August.
Review by Alessandro Vailati Pontecurone / Italy
After last 2006-2007 tour with Derek Trucks and Steve Jordan I thought it was impossible to do better. I was wrong. Me and my wife enjoyed wonderful solos from Eric: Outside Woman Blues and Hoochie Coochie Man very inspired and with a terrific arrangement and a great performance of Doyle Bramhall who also shared vocals with Slowhand on Tell The Truth (a very good opening), Key To The Highway and Here But I'm Gone -excellent. Magnificent work from Abe Laboriel Jr and obviously, from Weeks, Stainton and Michelle and Sharon. The concert lasted two hours. What a pity not hearing Double Trouble and having 18 songs instead of 19 in the setlist! With a wonderful encore presenting John Mayer, Sheryl Crow and Robert Randolph - they joined the EC and the band for Crossroads. We will also go to Munich and Zurich. The setlist is ok, but we hope Eric keeps changing songs!
Review by T Magnini
Young and old alike the audience were up in arms as Eric Clapton rocked away to his classic hits. I was one of the lucky ones at the front of the crowd. He wowed me as I was in awe of a true legend. At 16 year's old, this was my first ever Clapton concert and he sure raised my expectations. As the sun set on Hyde Park it did not stop the fans as the crowd was hyped up on Claptonmania as he topped the day along with Robert Randolph, Sheryl Crow and John Mayer. People were eager to take a look at Clapton at work as they were crowding, ticketless at the barriers. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and eagerly await his next concert.
Review by Nadja Teichert / Switzerland
After having experienced a monsoon-like rain Friday afternoon, my hopes were down for the weather thinking that it'll be a repeat 1996. Luckily, I was wrong - what a gorgeous day Saturday was in London.
Eric started on time after Sheryl's performance. He kicked off with Tell the Truth, a favourite of mine. Followed by Key to the Highway and Hoochie Coochie Man. The 5th song (Here but I'm Gone) was the highlight for me of the whole show. Other greats were Motherless Children (wonderful slide playing from EC), Layla, Little Queen of Spades with ample time for solos for EC, Doyle and Chris, Before You Accuse Me. I can do without Wonderful Tonight but it may be a "must" song for the crowd. Robert, John and Sheryl joined EC for the encore Crossroads which made up a bit for the shortish gig.
Overall a good concert albeit the length of the show. I am spoiled by the MSG 2008 (with Steve Winwood) performance and may have to relearn to appreciate it all. As I'll be seeing him in Leipzig, Berlin and ZÃ¼rich (show number 30 for me) I can always hope for another good concert.
Review by Nick Kernoghan
We got there at 1.30 p.m. and set ourselves up approximately 100 feet from the stage right in front of the left hand big screen. We had a great view and the sound was impressively good throughout the day. Robert Randolph was good; John Mayer very good, Sheryl Crow very good indeed and then Eric topped the lot with a fine set. In the last week we have also seen very good shows by Carlos Santana at the O2 Arena and Buddy Guy at the Shepherds Bush Empire, but Eric was better than both of these great players. EC just glides across the frets with impeccable phrasing, spine chilling bends, great tone and a very rare tastefulness.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole set and thought it was well paced. The crisp sound quality even ensured that the sit-down, mainly acoustic, set worked well in the outdoor setting; although Rockinâ€™ Chair seemed a bit limp. Outside Women Blues, Here But Iâ€™m Gone, and Layla were first class. On the latter the guitar solo was a bit short, but this was completely compensated for by fabulous interplay between Eric and Doyle on the coda. However, the peaks were stunningly good versions of Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad and Little Queen of Spades. Overall it was a great way to spend a sunny English summer day and when you look at concert prices these days Â£50 was a bargain!
Review by Sandra / Geneva, Switzerland
It was only my second time at a live Clapton gig and a great opportunity too to introduce a guitar God to my 11 yearr old son, who just started playing guitar. Concerts at Hyde Park bring up memories of past historical events, that I have watched on DVDs. So, I expected to live a memorable night. I was not disappointed.
Eric got onto the stage to a big cheer, wearing sunglasses, jeans and a black shirt. As the band started to play "Tell the Truth" it was clear that we were going to have a more blues night than two years ago in Locarno (Switzerland). The low sun took a long time to set over the big island and the wind was blowing quite strong through Eric's long hair. It was already time to go on to two more of my new Clapton favorites, "Key to the Highway", and "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad", which gave me much pleasure to listen to Eric play live. Yet, they did not match the performance of Derek and the Dominos at Fillmore East 38 years ago, where the same pieces lasted a lot longer and were ignited by a frenzy of absolutely fantastic solos and backing at a phenomenal speed. "Here But I'm Gone" I had never heard before, despite my full immersion in his music, gave me the shivers: Eric is at his best when blending rhythm with melody and inspiring lyrics. The arrangement reminded me a bit of his Pilgrim album-style.
The rest of the blues songs in the set were also gems ("Little Queen of Spades" standing out). Thanks to the great skills of the band, especially Doyle and Chris (missed the extra guitar by Derek that we heard in Locarno though). The finale was the classic set of "Wonderful Tonight" (always nice to hear, but hopefully next time he'll do "Bell Bottom Blues" it's about the same woman, but with more romantic drama attached to it), "Layla", and "Cocaine". In the "Crossroads" encore, played together with John Mayer and Sheryl Crow, Mayer's and Doyle's solos were spectacular, but when Eric went on, he showed what he has more: velvet fingers that seamlessly cruise through his guitar strings to produce a truly unique music experience. Thank you Eric (and band) for the moments of joy.
Review by Kenneth Duffin
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we only arrived at Hyde Park at 3:30, and by the time we got into the ground Robert Randolph was finishing his set, It sounded quite good while we were in the 40 minute queue to enter. He played a similar set to when he supported Eric in 2004.
Having got into the grounds, my first purchase was Eric's programme which was a true work of art. A history of his guitars from his first electric Kay guitar up to the latest EC signature "Graffiti" guitars.
The next artist was Jason Mraz. A Jazz / Folk blend which almost made me doze off!
Then John Mayer came on and played a great set. Having to watch the screens made his performance even better as we were not shown much of his face contortions. The surprise inclusion of a blues version of Duffy's Guilty was inspired. The crowd lapped it up.
Sheryl Crow came on without many people realising she was there, suddenly the screens lit up and Sheryl was there! Her set was very good. She had the crowd singing and clapping along almost from the start. The first few songs were from her new "Detours" album, but the majority were her greatest hits.
Eric came on to huge applause. The first song though was a poor version of "Tell The Truth". His drummer for this tour is Abe Laboriel Jr, who is normally seen with Paul McCartney. I felt that he was the wrong choice, as he did not gel with the band for the first four songs and with his odd timing changes Eric seemed to be unsure of his vocals during this time.
The second song "Key To The Highway" seemed even worse, except Doyle Bramhall II played a great guitar break. Next was "Hoochie Coochie Man" and again this was a bit of a struggle, fine guitar work but it lacked real feeling.
Then came "Outside Woman Blues", which, after seeing Cream in 2005 perform a brilliant version, was the worst song of the night. Again, most of the blame was in the rhythm which put Eric's guitar out of sync. The show was then redeemed by a terrific version of Marvin Gaye's "Here But I Am Gone". I do hope Eric has or will put out a studio version of this song, it suits him perfectly. Two brilliant guitar solos made this the second best song of the night. For some reason, from now on, Abe's drumming improved, perhaps because he seemed to try less hard. Next was "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad". A bit of a mistake in the first line, it was soon forgotten as the band put fine solos all over the place. They then sat for the obligatory acoustic set. "Driftin'" was very nice, just Eric, no band. He was in fine voice. An old blues / jazz number Rockin' Chair was next. Doyle again played a very good solo. At times I thought Doyle was given too many solos and vocal duties, but he does do them well.
"Motherless Child" followed, a great stomping number, then "Travellin' Riverside Blues", almost as good. Then "Running On Faith", with great back up vocals from Sharon White and Michelle John; very gospel. Back on their feet and back to the electric guitar, they seemed to step up another gear with the best song of the show (and worth the entrance money by itself): "Motherless Children". Eric and Doyle both playing brilliant slide dual solos. "Little Queen Of Spades" saw two of Eric's daughters at the stage side, dancing. Eric smiled and waved. More great solos from both Eric and Doyle. "Before You Accuse Me" followed. Nice but after "Little Queen of Spades", this was too slow. Then "Wonderful Tonight", again slow, maybe he needed a break. I think it is about time Eric dropped this song, but I realise many would miss it.
The first few notes of "Layla" brought the energy back up. The crowd loved this and again Eric and Doyle shone. Chris Stainton's piano coda was spot on as well. "Cocaine" followed, high energy and great playing from all. The crowd missed the timing for the final shout of "Cocaine" though!
Off they went and the roadies began to set up Robert Randolph's pedal steel guitar. For the rest of this tour, the encore had been "Got My Mojo Working", but the surprise when they came out was a version of "Crossroads" that would have taken the roof off (if there had been one). John Mayer and Sheryl Crow came out as well, both sang one verse each. Taken all together, this was a great show, if nowhere near Eric's best. Of the 18 songs performed four were poor, two average, eight great, and four brilliant. A good mix.
Review by Jean Hayes / Cardiff, Wales
I travelled from Cardiff to have an experience of a lifetime. I was fulfilling a wish I had waited over 30 years and more for, to see Eric Clapton play live. My children gave a huge sigh of relief as I had never been able to catch a concert he had played, even in America. I was half an hour away from seeing him in Detroit and EC cancelled*. Gutted wasn't the word as the ticket was a special surprise for my 60th birthday from them. I have followed Eric since the very early days (1960's), but on June 28th 2008 my dream came true in Hyde Park, and wasn't disappointed I can tell you. He was everything I had expected and more, a true legend, and to top it all the weather was great. One of the best days of my life.
* Ed. note: EC's performance in Detroit on the 2006 World Tour was cancelled due to illness. The rescheduled concert took place in 2007.
Hard Rock Calling (No label - 2 CD)