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31 July 2006 - Eric Clapton & His Band

Location

Hartwall Arena Helsinki
Finland
Band Lineup: 

Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Doyle Bramhall II – guitar / vocals
Derek Trucks – guitar
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Tim Carmon – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Steve Jordan – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
The Kick Horns (Simon Clarke – baritone saxophone, Roddy Lorimer – trumpet, Tim Sanders – tenor saxophone)

Support: 
Robert Cray Band
Special Guest(s): 

Robert Cray – guitar / vocals*

Set List: 

01. Pretending
02. I Shot The Sheriff
03. Got To Get Better In A Little While
04. Old Love*
05. Everybody Oughta Make A Change
06. Motherless Children
07. Back Home
08. I Am Yours
09. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
10. Running On Faith
11. After Midnight
12. Little Queen Of Spades
13. Further On Up The Road
14. Wonderful Tonight
15. Layla
16. Cocaine
17. Crossroads (encore)*

Show Notes: 

As the 3 August Moscow concert was cancelled, this was the final date of the European Tour. It was also the last date on which the Kick Horns accompanied Eric on the road.

Fan Reviews: 

Review by Pirjo Virtaintorppa - Helsinki
I knew Robert Cray is good, but really he was a great surprise. EC was - as usual - good and satisfying. His way of not talking to audience may annoy some, but I like it - I do not come to concert to hear talking. I came to hear music and with EC I get what I want. In Helsinki, Hartwall Arena has never good acoustic setting, so the volume was too high. Otherwise the concert was great. This was 3rd time I heard him in Helsinki, plus Cream concert in London last May 2005.

Personally I loved most Nobody Knows You When You Are Down And Out as well as Running on Faith. They had the feeling in them. Robert Cray should have played more with EC, it was a delight to hear them play together in Crossroads!

Review by Marjut Valakivi
The volume was mostly way too loud and unbalanced. Horns could not be heard, nor the backing vocals. Mr. EC was brilliant, and it was great to hear these young guitarists, unknown to me. Especially the blond guy with his slide was amazing. I liked the long instrumental ending of Layla best, and the acoustic set also. The evening was well worth paying all those euros for.

Review by JT
Helsinki is the place to start or to end the tour in Europe. EC and his band chose the latter and ended the tour to soldout (9,000) Arena. The band had even purchased some local souvenirs (reindeer hats) to feature in the encore! Robert Cray opened the night and joined the EC band in Old Love and Crossroads. Highlights of the 2 hour EC show was funky I Shot The Sheriff, long version of Old Love, soulful acoustic Running On Faith,jazzy Little Queen of Spades...The setlist was the same as the previous concerts in Scandinavia,and Doyle Bramhall and Derek Trucks is excellent choice of guitar players with EC! Hope to see EC and his band sometime soon!

Review by Neil Cronin
This was my 2nd show of the current tour, the 1st being at the RAH in May; both have been outstanding. Now into his 60's, Clapton continues to amaze the audience in a manner befitting someone half his age. There were also some superb performances from other members of the band, Derek Trucks in particular, who is arguably one of the best slide guitarists of the current era. Trucks' efforts on 'Layla', for example, were somewhat reminiscent of the great Duane Allman on the original recording.

My personal highlights would have to be the raw energy of 'Motherless Children', as well as the fantastic solo work on 'Queen of spades'.
Robert Cray was also exemplary throughout the night. As well as his band's warm-up act, Cray's soloing on 'Old Love' was, as usual, laced with emotion.

I would have to agree with the previous reviewer that there were technical issues with the sound system. Holding the event in a hockey stadium was perhaps not ideal, however this shouldn't take anything away from what was a great show.

Review by Tommi Kyyrö
EC returned to Finland after a five year break. His gig during the Reptile tour in 2001 was one of the greatest musical experiences of my life, and Slowhand did not disappoint this time around either, treating a sold-out Areena to a blistering high-energy show that lasted over 2 hours with almost no breaks between songs.

The evening started well with a very nice set by Robert Cray, who played some of his classics like Phone Booth and Right Next Door.

As for the performance of Eric and his band, it was a strong all-around performance spearheaded by the master himself. From start to finish Clapton seemed extremely focused, never missing a beat. The precision and fluency of his solos was of highest level, and the content was fresh and inventive. It was apparent that he was really "feeling it" when he extended some of his solos compared to some earlier shows. And his facial expressions during the climaxes of the solos spoke for themselves. :)

The setlist was the same as during the latter part of the European tour, including old favourites such as After Midnight, Motherless Children and Everybody Oughta Make a Change.

Some of the highlights of the show:
- A very strong start. A powerful Pretending led right into I Shot the Sheriff (which had a very good EC solo, by the way) which in turn continued directly into Got to Get Better in a Little While which was a highlight in itself, absolutely bursting with energy .
- A wonderful version of Old Love. Clapton played a fantastic solo, whereafter Robert Cray stepped up and took his solo very well. And then, instead of a noodling, momentum-killing keyboard solo Tim Carmon upped the tempo and the rhythm moved into a funky beat. After a nifty solo by Carmon the rhythm was brought back to normal and the song was wrapped up by some searing high notes from EC. I loved this arrangement!
- The "sitting down" section of the show was nice overall, but the highlight for me was I am Yours, one of my all-time favourite songs played in a most beautiful manner.
- Layla was very good. Contrary to some reports from earlier gigs on this tour it was Eric who played the opening riff. This time the instrumental end part was most memorable, with Derek Trucks paying homage to Duane Allman's original slide work with some exquisite notes.
- And then an awesome rendition of Cocaine. Clapton built up his solo from a different angle than usual: what a stunning solo! And then a briliant solo from Derek to follow it up.
- For the encore Crossroads the band surprised the audience (and, as it seemed, they surprised EC as well!) by walking on stage wearing horned reindeer hats with the text "Finland" on them. It was truly an absurd sight to see. :) Eric was laughing so much that he seemed to be at pains to regroup his concentration. It was a nice gesture from the band to the audience.

So, all in all it was great night filled with energy, with Slowhand on fire: a confident and powerful display by a master on the top of his craft.
 

Review by Joona
This was my second Clapton concert and I think I will remember much more from this one. Main reason is that I was only 17 years old in 1998 when I saw EC first time. I didn't have listened Clapton's music so extensively then. There wasn't much suprises, because of reading Where's Eric, but I enjoyed the feeling that I knew what is coming.

I was very happy when I read from Where's Eric that Robert Cray will open the show. I did know what to expect, because the band was in Finland a year ago. I wasn't disappointed. Robert Cray band was great again. I didn't expected to hear slow "Time Makes Two", which is one of my favourites. From first notes of last song of Robert Cray, I was grining, because I knew "this is it!" The band played 40 minutes.
First highligt to me was "I Shot The Sheriff". That was much like in live dvd "Crosssroads Guitar Festival", still the EC's solo was different and awesome. It didn't anymore annoy me, that I couldn't have tour t-shirt. They were sold out early in the evening.

Next thing I was waiting was "Old Love". That's my favourite Clapton song and now I heard it with Robert Cray. That was a great version.
"Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" and "Little Queen Of Spades" were also my favourites of the show. Of course "Layla" also, because that one got some movement to slightly lame Finnish audience.

The concert was great and all band members had their own great moments and great solos. One surprise was when at encore Doyle Bramhall II, Derek Trucks, Tim Carmon and Willie Weeks came to the stage, wearing reindeer horn caps where has written "Finland". This night was great and I'm very happy that I got tickets to the sold-out concert. Now I'm hoping and waiting to see Eric again.

Review by Antti Paakkari, Helsinki
The final gig of the European leg was eventually in Helsinki since Moscow sadly got cancelled. I was curious to see if there was anything to mark the occasion and there was in the form of moose hats the technicians brought out for the rhythm section before Crossroads. So during the encore we had Doyle, Derek, Willie, Stevie, Tim and Chris all in a moose outfit which got everybody laughing!

The gig was solid and lasted 2h 15min. I've heard better EC gigs but it was definately not one of the worst either. I think on some songs they extended a little bit to celebrate the last gig of the tour. Crossroads was wonderful as when Robert started his solo Eric showed him 5 fingers meaning five choruses. Robert then shook his head and played two after which he turned back to EC who just kept laughing and showing two fingers meaning two more choruses. Robert the continued but eventually didn't play more than one. They were really having a good time and that was fun to watch. Also a highlight was Eric's extended solo on Little Queen Of Spades since I've not often heard him play two verses after the modulation in the end. All in all, a very nice night.

Review by Daniel Merry (Helsinki, Finland)
Eric Clapton and his band wrapped up the European leg of their world tour with a tremendous show at Helsinki's Hartwall Arena last night. Having followed the progress of the tour over the last month or so, the set list and band line up came as no surprise - the set list was exactly the same as at previous gigs and the band was, of course, the same down to the last man (and woman). Therefore, the biggest expectations on my part where (a) how would some of the lesser played songs go down, and (b) was every glowing report I'd read about guitarists Doyle Bramhall and Dereck Trucks true?

First of all, a word about the warm up act. Robert Cray and his band kicked things off with a set lasting approximately 30 minutes. The songs included were all bluesy, as one would expect, but quite varied (up-tempo, slow, funky). Having seen Robert Cray play with EC before (during the 24 Nights concerts), I already knew how fine a blues musician Robert Cray is. As a singer, song-writer and guitarist, Cray has it all. Although I would personally regard his vocals and writing as his strongest assets, he's no slouch when it comes to working his way round the fret board! As all good warm up acts do, the evening was nicely poised for the entry of the main event.

Eric and the band took to the stage just after 9 pm and launched straight into Pretending - a song that never really made itself known in a big way at the time of the Journeyman album release but has taken on a life of its own as a concert staple, and for good reason too: quite poppy throughout the verses and chorus but once the guitar solos kick in the blues-rock levels start rising. A fine opener to really announce the band is up for it. And up for it they were - without even a pause for breathe the band played straight into I Shot the Sheriff, through to Got to Get Better in a Little While.

In the second and third songs we got our first real taste of the guitar skills of Doyle Bramhall and Dereck Trucks, and they did not disappoint. Wow! Bramhall has one of the most unusual playing styles I've ever seen: he's a left-hander but he plays with the guitar strung 'upside down', i.e. high strings on top and low strings down below. This unorthodox setup means his picking style is practically all up strokes which in turn produces a very distinctive and exciting sound. Trucks, whilst more orthodox in terms of guitar setup, neverthless adopts a powerful finger picking style and great slide technique (think Duanne Allman). It's a true testament to the character of Eric Clapton that he's more than happy to share his stage with not just one other guitarist and give him time and space to express himself but he invites two to join his band, Actually, if you include Robert Cray, who made further appearances for Old Love and Crossroads, that's three other guitarists and EC all on the same stage. Clapton is clearly so comfortable with his status as top dog and so generous a musician that he doesn't need to take centre stage on every occasion in order to play his music. And it all works.

The opening 'stand up' set continued with, as mentioned above, Old Love, featuring co-writer Robert Cray, Everybody Ought to Make a Change and, for me, one of the first real unexpected highlights, Motherless Children. Not a song you hear very often on Clpaton tours but a real delight to hear live: very evocative of Clapton's early 70s output and overflowing with superb slide work.

The 'sit dow' set ran to four songs: Back Home, I Am Yours (a nice addition from the Layla Album), Nobody knows You When Your Down and Out (a favourite from the Unplugged session) and Running on Faith. The last of these was easily the best of the lot. The sit down session was a very welcome feature of the show but it was a bit too short. I would have liked to hear a few of the Robert Johnson numbers. Neverthless, it added a different tempo to the proceedings and that worked well as the evening progressed into the finale.

Back on their feet with electric instruments in hand, the band played After Midinght (my second unexpected highlight). A more bluesy mood took over with the excellent Little Queen of Spades (here Clapton, Bramhall and Trucks, and not forgetting the keyboards of Chris Stainton and Tim Carmon really stretched their legs and played several blistering solos) and Further on Up the Road.

Then it was into the home straight with the band reeling off one classic after another: Wonderful Tonight, Layla and Cocaine. The evening was crowned with a fine rendition of Crossroads.

All in all, a totally absorbing night of outstanding musicianship from all concerned. Clapton seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to making things work on stage. I would have liked to see a little more audience participation from the Helsinki crowd but Finns just don't do that. Neverthless, the band gave it their all and for that they received a very heartfelt standing ovation.

Review by Olli Oksala
Eric and the Reindeers in Finland
Mr. Clapton played the last gig of his 39 date European tour in Helsinki, Finland last night. Having seen mr. Clapton perform over 15 times since 1969 this gig was different in a couple ways.

I think Eric is giving us a message on this tour: This tour is really about bandplaying and passing the torch of soulful and melodic guitarplaying. The gig included lots of solos and mostly by guitarists, but they never became overblown or egocentric. Robert Cray, Doyle Bramhall II and Derek Trucks are all very different kind of guitarists, but economy of playing and a humble attitude about presentation is what makes them stand out and above the army of flashy egomaniacs you usually see playing "blues-rock solos" with wild gestures.
We heard a concert full of guitar fireworks, but it was all sensible and enjoyable.

This tour is also about giving room to all players in the band. Clapton is the band leader, but he's very appreciative about the musical talent in the band.

Those 30 gigs between the show I saw in May at RAH and this one in Helsinki had made a bigger difference, than some changes in hte setlist: The concert was now raunchier, the solos longer and Clapton stretched out a lot more.

On this tour usually the first part has been full of Clapton's guitar highlights, but this time he saved the real energy to the end. EChad some problems with his guitar-sound on first 3 songs and we got a rare sight during Got To Get Better.. of Clapton kneeling mid-song at his amp and trying to adjust the levels. EC and Robert Cray laughed at the incident as they started the beautiful version of Old Love, which included some heavenly phrases from EC, but better was still to come. After Midnight was steaming and included some really edgy guitar from Clapton, but Little Queen Of Spades and Further On Up The Road were incredible. It seemed as if EC had got energy from the problems earlier on he played some of the most amazing blues guitar I've ever heard. LQOS was extended to give everybody room, but as this was the last gig of the Euro tour, after Derek's amazing solo Clapton proceeded to play two extra choruses that totally blew the roof of arena. FOUTR was jumpy and Clapton's guitar blazing.

The same vigorous spirit lasted to the end, although during Crossroads Clapton had problems to stop laughing as he saw his band playing the song with reindeer hats on. The gig got great reviews from he Finnish papers, too.

Official Recording: 

 

Bootleg Recording(s):