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
Robert Randolph - pedal steel *
01. Tell The Truth
02. Key To The Highway
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Isn't It A Pity
05. Outside Woman Blues
06. Here But I'm Gone
07. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad
09. Rockin' Chair
10. Motherless Child
11. Travellin' Riverside Blues
12. Running On Faith
13. Motherless Children
14. Little Queen of Spades
15. Before You Accuse Me
16. Wonderful Tonight
19. I've Got My Mojo Working *
Eric Clapton's concert at Harewood House near Leeds was the last before a five-week break. The 2008 summer tour picked up again on 6 August in Bergen, Norway. It ended 23 August in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
Review by Mike Turner / York
This gig should have been titled EC's "Back to Nature" concert ! The earlier part of the day had been marked by really heavy downpours but when the Harewood gates opened at 4.30 pm the sun began shining brightly and stayed that way throughout the entire show. If there's a more picturesque setting for a concert than this, I'm not aware of it. Harewood House is a typical English stately home sitting atop a hillside. Gentle rolling slopes led down to the stage area and stage-left lay a beautiful tree-lined lake. Throughout the afternoon huge red kites (that's a bird, not something tied to a string) flew over the audience and stage area, much to the bemusement of the crew. All of this seemed completely in keeping with Eric's approach to the show. For this show, there was no urgent piano from Chris Stainton announcing 'Pretending' or no EC appearing from the wings whilst launching into 'Crossroads'. No, what we had instead was a humble and workman-like Eric shuffling on to the stage in denims and a baggy fleece top. This wasn't Eric the showman, this was Eric out to show that he is an earnest musician. The band were tight, almost fierce, from the opening strains of 'Tell the Truth' through to the frenetic closer of 'Mojo' which saw some amazing interaction between Robert Randolph and Eric. Unfortunately, this did reflect to a small degree in Eric's persona. I know several fans have already commented on this. Eric has never been one for much on stage banter (thank God) but at Harewood he looked very intense and very tired.
This band is excellent. Abe Laboriel Jr is possibly one of the best drummers I've seen in an EC line-up, particularly for the harder-edged nature of the set list. I'd also endorse the comments about Doyle's playing on this tour. I feel he maybe felt a little in Derek's shadow during the 2006 / 2007 run but he is certainly playing with far more confidence and inspiration on this tour.
This show represented a personal milestone for me, being my 150th EC concert and I vowed that this would be my last. In all the years of seeing EC live I've never seen him play 'Little Wing' and I held out great hopes this time around, as it was in the set list early in the tour. Then, one lone fan in Ireland holds up a sign saying 'Isn't it a Pity, please' and 'Little Wing' disappears again ! Oh well, 'Isn't it a Pity' was actually a pretty good substitute. The 'new' tracks ('Here But I'm Gone', 'Travellin' Riverside Blues' and 'Rocking Chair') also slotted in seamlessly to the set list, the latter reminding me very much of 'Hard Times' from earlier tours. It seems to have taken EC decades to recognise that fans genuinely appreciate it when artists mix up the set list, either from tour-to-tour or even during a tour. EC hasn't gone to the lengths of Bruce Springsteen (over 150 different tracks played on the current tour) but at least there was a nice change of material from the last tour.
Unfortunately, we still have to endure the old crowd pleaser 'Wonderful Tonight' which ironically (but only in my opinion) drew one of the biggest cheers of the night. The song stood out like a sore thumb in an excellent blues-rock set list, but at least it kept the romantics amongst the crowd happy.
On the subject of the crowd. They certainly weren't the 'champagne swilling' mob that one earlier reviewer had predicted (we can't actually afford champagne 'Up North'). There were a very small number of camping stools at the rear, but the greater majority of the crowd stood through the entire Robert Randolph and EC sets. Also, NEVER have I heard less talking during songs from an outdoor audience. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Together with crystal clear sound (hats off to the engineers) and the usual superlative playing from 'The Master' it made for one great listening experience.
A final word on the 'back to nature' theme. Just as EC and the band were launching into 'Little Queen of Spades' a flock of geese flew across the front of the stage. EC looked genuinely bewildered as if to say "what the hell was that" but the audience found it very amusing. As for me, I guess I'll have to keep turning up to future shows after all in the hope that EC plays 'Little Wing'. A bit like searching for the 'Holy Grail' it seems !
Review by Gareth Shepherd
Despite being and avid fan for 20 years since I saw him on TV as an 11 year old, this was my first live Eric Clapton gig. In the last few weeks I must admit to having doubts over what this gig would turn out to be like, given the partisan reviews from Ireland and the set lists that had been posted on this site from the US Tour. Would a blues set like this hold the attention and entertain a massive crowd at an open air gig? Would the lesser known tunes to those who do not know his wider back catalogue satisfy the fans? Was the man himself still up to the task? All questions were answered. YES!YES!YES!
From the minute he walked on looking relaxed and happy - must have been the sunshine - everyone in the crowd was on a winner. He and his band tore into "Tell The Truth" with real vigour and followed it up with one after another of polished powerful renditions. My personal favourites from the night were "Here But I'm Gone", "Outside Woman Blues", "Motherless Child" and "Motherless Children".
His band is quite peerless too. Doyle Bramhall is both the perfect foil for him and cattle prod which he freely admits himsef in the excellent programme notes sharing singing and lead guitar duties. God only knows what they sounded like when Derek Trucks was on board with them! Willie Weeks and Abe Laboriel Jnr were magnificent - Abe a bundle of energy egging the rest of the band on. Chris Stainton was the ultimate Pro, and the backing singers just sublime.
The great thing was that all, Eric included, seemed to clearly be having a whale of a time and so did the healthy crowd as a result.
The gig showed to me that Class musicianship and great, passionate performances of "standards" can wipe tired performances of hit records into the ground. I'd tell anyone to get out there and see him on this tour wherever he rolls up next, and don't believe the whingers.
I look forward to my next EC gig. It can't come soon enough.
Review by Jenny McCullough / Crieff
Although a fan of Clapton's since the early seventies, it wasn't until Sunday at Harewood House in Leeds, that I saw him in concert. My sister and I travelled 250 miles from Perthshire and arrived at the grounds two hours before Robert Randolph opened the show at 7.30. The setting was just stunning. After several days of so-so weather, there was warm sunshine, blue skies, little white fluffy clouds and kites (birds) wheeling above the site. We went to get a beer, but were so happy to be there that by the time we reached the counter, we'd upgraded to a bottle of champagne!
Before the concert started we had an absolutely fab time drinking our champagne, chatting to all the people around us, taking photos, making friends. There was a good mix of ages. There was a great atmosphere.
I thought we had a good location, as we'd arrived in good time and were reasonably far forward. I kept standing up beforehand to check I could still see, but when the concert started and everybody stood up, adjusted their position, it was hopeless and at 5'2", I could barely see the stage and the performers seemed to be pinpricks. I saw lots on the screen, but I wish I had had a better view. I was pretty aware of what the set would be, having read lots of reviews from this site of earlier concerts in the tour, but my sister didn't know many numbers from the first half of the set, many of which were from the 'Layla' album. I particularly enjoyed 'Outside Woman Blues' and 'Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?'
Eric's beige jacket came off for the acoustic section to some cheers from the crowd, only to reveal an old black sweatshirt. I loved 'Running on Faith'. The crowd was still not overâ€“excited, but 'Motherless Children' got the party going a bit. Unfortunately, immediately after, the tempo slowed down again for 'Little Queen of Spades', although I enjoyed it.
I think I knew it would be like this ..... but I hoped it wouldn't be. Eric is quite inscrutable. He has an impassive expression and despite facing thousands of people who had paid a lot of money to be there, (I paid Â£100 for our two tickets) there was little interaction between the performers and the audience, nor did there seem to be between the performers themselves.
Chris Stainton was excellent. I loved his solos. Abe Laboriel Jr hunched over the drums, meaning business, worked up a sweat. Doyle Bramhall II got a lot of screen time and played several solos, but I came to see, and hear, Clapton play guitar. There is no doubt that Eric is a wonderful guitarist and his fingers just fly. Being female, I can say that he has good hair and I like it that length! He has beautiful hands, with cared-for nails. My sister thought he looked all of his age and perhaps unwell. I didn't think he looked ill, but I did think he looked tired. I wish he had looked happier.
That ol' wedding chestnut, 'Wonderful Tonight' was wheeled out, but 'Layla', next up, got a huge cheer and was really great! The highlight of the concert for me was the encore with Robert Randolph. He is so sunny and smiley, at last he got the rest of the performers to cheer up a bit. There was some fantastic interplay between Eric and Robert Randolph and Eric obviously enjoyed the joust.
Would I go again? Of course. Despite that fabulous setting though, next time I'd like to go to a concert where I had a numbered seat, where I would be able to see properly. The whole evening was great fun. A lot of that was due to the super repartee we got going with people around us, the fab weather, the champagne and the satisfaction of having seen Clapton at last. I wish he'd spoken to the audience and perhaps introduced some of the numbers, but I don't suppose he has ever done that and if you are a regular attendee, you know that. It would still be nice though
Review by John Lewis
Harewood House is a fabulous setting for an outdoor gig, but the driving rain I endured to get to the event was not encouraging. By the time I arrived, the sun was shining and the car park (which reminded me of the opening sequence to Harry Potter's Goblet Of Fire) was filling with EC faithful.
Having lost tickets to see Derek and The Dominoes play The Penthouse Club in Scarborough in 1970, my 38 year hiatus in attempting to see EC play live was largely due to embarrassment and a fear of unmanaged expectations. Two years after the Penthouse gig I found the damn tickets at the bottom of a drawer but I'm now kicking myself for not seeing the Man play live before now.
At 4.30pm the gates opened and the first obstacle to overcome was security checking bags, rucksacks etc. Now, I've been to a lot of gigs where I was searched for drugs, but this is the first time I've been searched for food! I know Eric is working for the pension fund and with four kids, who isn't but come on! Even the program sellers were shouting, 'Buy your over-priced merchandise here, folks'.
Several £4 Pims and £3.50 beers later, Robert Randolph, accompanied by his Family Band played a short, but stunning set. Randolph's prowess on the steel guitar is nothing short of amazing and anyone who thinks the instrument is for the exclusive backing of Dolly Parton, Hank Williams et al should think again. Memories of Poco's Rusty Young surface as God knows how many strings, pullies and levers were coaxed into the kind of aural gymnastics you expect more from Eddie Van Halen. His hip-hop/blues rhythm section gelled perfectly with the Hammond/guitar format and the Bo Didley tribute complete with rectangular Gretsch rounded things off and set up the excitement for the main event.
Just seeing Eric for the first time was like seeing something not quite real made flesh - the man really does exist after all. Looking cool (as always), but slightly nervous, he launched into a pleasing mix of material old and new(ish) taking perhaps two or three songs to really begin to hit the groove. But once there, wow!
Always allowing his band, particularly Stainton and Bramhall room to breathe, Eric's command of his art is unsurpassed by any contemporary and his driving rhythm section compliments perfectly the textures laid down by the two guitars and keyboards. Special note should be made here for the two backing singers whose contribution to the 'sound' was spine-tingling. And what a sound. The high spot of the set for me was an acoustic section during which Eric showed why he is the acknowledged master of 'white' blues. To sit in front of a noisy crowd and spellbind every single person into near silence just with the power of your playing must fill him with satisfaction. If not, it should, because this was for me finest moment of live entertainment I have ever experienced.
With spectacular lighting and superb playing, the finale was the old favourite Layla / Cocaine medley which left the crowd cheering for more. For the encore, Randolph joined the band for a high-octane version of Got My Mojo Working with Eric again allowing his protÃ©gÃ© to take centre stage.
I'm not sure how many more tours EC has left in him - a Steve Winwood world tour perhaps ?? - but one thing is certain; I'll be there.
Review by James Flude
Before I give a review of Eric's set, I have to say that Robert Randolph played an excellent set with 'Papa was a rolling stone' the highlight. Great vibes and grooves with real passion.
Having read some of the previous reviews I was a bit apprehensive about what to expect, but I have to say that Eric and the band were excellent. It was all smiles from the start with Eric clearly enjoying the interactions with other band members. It did make me smile when they walked onto the stage in coats with Doyle and Willie in woollen hats. My wife said to me 'that's not very rock and roll!'
A definite highlight was 'Isn't it a pity'. I think this is a beautiful song and Eric and band played a blinding version. I saw the 2006 tour and I liked the extra dimension that Derek gave them. I would have loved to have seen him in the line up again. On the subject of 'wonderful tonight' I can confirm that it did get the biggest cheer of the night. I have to admit to holding my head in my hands when you consider all the other songs he played!Overall, an excellent night.