Tour Recap: Far East and Down Under 2007
Eric and his band logged a few more thousand miles as the 2006 / 2007 World Tour continued with dates throughout the Far East, New Zealand and Australia. This leg of the tour featured 15 concerts in 11 cities in 6 countries in a little over a month's time.
The first concert of 2007 took place in Singapore on 13 January, before moving on to Thailand, Hong Kong and Eric's first ever gig in mainland China at the Shanghai Grand Stage on 20 January. Interestingly, "Cocaine" was dropped from the setlist at that concert. Throughout the tour, the set list would open with a batch of songs Dominos songs followed by a selection of material from EC's back catalog like "Motherless Children," "Further On Up The Road," and of course, "Wonderful Tonight."
Following a date in Seoul, Korea, the band headed down under for the first time in 17 years. Twenty six thousand fans crowded the grounds of the Mission Estate Winery in New Zealand on 28 January. A few days later, it was
announced that EC's most recent CD (with J.J. Cale) The Road To Escondido topped that country's album charts. The Australian tour kicked off with three shows in Sydney. Performances also took place in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide before the tour wrapped up in Perth on 11 February.
Although some press reviews were critical of the setlist indicating it should have been completely made up of "greatest hits" and that EC didn't "talk or smile enough", most reviewers understood he is simply at his best when he remains close to his blues / rock roots. Eric has never been about gaudy special effects or jumping about the stage or engaging the audience with entertaining patter. The music simply speaks for itself.
Bruce Elder, of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote: "This was a night when Clapton, after years of going soft and middle-of-the-road with ballads and unplugged albums, rediscovered his hard-edged Chicago-style, rhythm and blues roots. There was no place for 'Tears in Heaven' in this raw set." He continued, "It was no accident that the first five songs were all old Derek and the Dominos tunes, with 'Tell the Truth' from the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs album kicking off proceedings, Clapton playing a short and understated solo on 'Key to the Highway', and Trucks delivering some of the sweetest slide guitar you're ever likely to hear this side of Duane Allman on 'Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?'. It was also a night when Clapton exhibited the diverse talents of his band. It was a concert notably short on distinctive "slowhand" guitar solos. Sure, the middle four songs, which were all performed acoustically, opened with a beautiful Clapton solo on 'Driftin' Blues', but beyond that 'Outside Woman Blues' was a piece for three guitars, 'Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out' was an ideal vehicle to demonstrate the easy cameraderie the band enjoys and 'Running on Faith' was a neat segue from the Deep South back-porch intimacy of the acoustic set into the final, blistering electric finale.
Jay Hanna, STM Music Editor for Perth Now / Sunday Times, said of the final night, "Perth may have been left off the itinery when Clapton last toured Australia 17 years ago, but the bespectacled superstar made up for his absence with a searing set of Delta blues and blues fused rock. Accompanied by a stellar eight-piece band, the guitarist known as "God" delved into his prolific back catalogue offering gems from his days in Cream, Derek And The Dominoes and even John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. A man of few words, Clapton said little more than "thank you" between songs, but his generosity as a musician more than made up for his lack of audience interaction. In fact the lack of words seemed to heighten the feeling that the audience were privy to an exclusive jam session."
Eric and the band are now on a short hiatus. The tour picks up again on 28 February 2007 in Dallas, Texas and concludes on 6 April in Columbus, Ohio.