Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Tim Carmon - keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Steve Gadd – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
01. Key To The Highway
02. Going Down Slow
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Old Love
05. I Shot The Sheriff
07. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
08. River Runs Deep
09. When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful
10. Same Old Blues (song by JJ Cale)
13. Wonderful Tonight
14. Before You Accuse Me
15. Little Queen Of Spades
"Further On Up The Road" was printed on the set list as the closing song. However, EC changed it at the last minute and performed a jazzy / funky version of "Crossroads" as the encore at the MGM Grand.
Review by Kevin Dauphinee / Henderson NV
Saturday night is Las Vegas has its own implications and a rock concert by a rock and blues icon at the MGM Grand Garden Arena (16,000+ capacity and surprisingly good acoustics) sets up lofty expectations. Los Lobos opened with a strong set showcasing David Hidalgo's guitar and voice with a tight rhythm section and the clever influences of The Band and The Grateful Dead. Humble and grateful, Los Lobos gave fans more than what could have been expected.
The mood changed immediately when Eric Clapton strolled onto the stage. Frankly, I was skeptical about the tour set list and the dual keyboard line-up, but the opening number, "Key To The Highway", established the room sound and a familiar mood throughout the crowd. EC's voice was strong and emphatic while his touch and tone certainly demonstrated a desire to play with a by-the-book "Going Down Slow". The irony and mystery of "Hoochie Coochie Man" enthralled the older fellows close by and "Old Love" harkened back to the "Journeyman" period with well-timed, dramatic pauses. We witnessed a bit of magic from a tasteful rendition of The Wailers version of "I Shot The Sheriff" with a sweet falsetto refrain. The sit-down section from "Driftin'" through "Layla" gave the artists a bit of a breather and a chance for the crowd to enjoy the Martin acoustic and the Gibson electric. I've always enjoyed "Badge" as a period piece, recalling The Beatles "You Never Give Me Your Money" with sentimental melodrama. The women in my vicinity exchanged fist bumps with the first refrains of "Wonderful Tonight" and the fellas countered vocally on "Before You Accuse Me'. "Little Queen Of Spades" held less immediacy or conviction compared to the DVD version from 'Sessions for Robert J', perhaps EC was holding some in reserve for the finale.
Why "Cocaine" remains in the repertoire is a mystery. Alternatives abound. Here, the dueling keyboard noodling by Stainton and Carmon became wearisome but EC turns 66 this month, so who can begrudge a guy needing a break? Finally, I was elated that "Crossroads" was chosen for an encore rather than "Further On Up The Road". Perhaps the selection is decided by the response from the audience, which was enthusiastic, but moderated by the elevated mean age of attendees.
After 42 years, countless incarnations and musical themes, Eric Clapton in concert is an event that is just too compelling and entertaining to miss. Steve Gadd and WIllie Weeks are an impressively solid rhythm section and the voices of Michelle John and Sharon White fill beautifully. However, I'd prefer to see and hear another guitar player counterpoint EC as the Stainton-Carmon keyboard axis was capable but excessive. On my drive home, I listened to a live performance from the Osaka Jo Hall in 2002 and "Gin House" outdistanced anything EC performed at the MGM. While he still brings the big wood, I long for the fire and diversity of "Cradle" and "One More Car". After all, it's a 42 year relationship.
Review by Paul M. Robitaille / Las Vegas NV
Clapton and his band hit the stage at 9:10p, after a great set by opener Los Lobos, for what was to be a nearly 2 hour show to a near sell-out crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Perfect weather at around 70-73 degrees F, quite unusual for early March. Set list was the same as his Arco Arena show March 3rd, in Sacramento, CA, but believe it or not, this show had a bit more energy. He looked freshly laundered, which should explain a recent video making the rounds, and was energetic on stage, wringing out notes from the neck of his Daphne Blue Strat, which he favors of late. The Strat was only one of three guitars he used all evening.
When Clapton and his band hit the stage, they immediately launched into "Key To The Highway", which went over with the crowd rather well. It has just the right amount of spark to set the crowd off, although they weren't exactly dancing in the aisles, the crowd being mostly over 40 (almost over 50).
By the time the intro songs were done (nobody was standing during the first three), the trend continued as he launched into "Old Love"'. Clapton ripped the solo, (yes folks, he's still got it) and Tim had an equally scorching solo of his own on the keyboards. The audience was slowly coming to life, and things were going well.
"I Shot The Sheriff" started with a long lazy guitar intro, but as the song developed soon evolved into a positively amazing guitar solo that had the arena rockin'... I'm convinced, once again, that Clapton is "God"!
Clapton went to his sit down segment and then switched to his Martin acoustic for the next two songs, "Driftin;", and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out". He then switched to an electric Gibson (semi acoustic), or an "electic" guitar as my wife referred to it, for the next four songs, "River Runs Deep", "When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful", "Same Old Blues", and "Layla". "Layla" had a unusual feel to it from his standard acoustic version, normally played on one of his Martin guitars. This version was "Electic", and seemed to feel "different"... great sounding though, and was met with a solid wave of approval. It also had a great keyboards solo to bring it on home.
Switching back to his Strat, Clapton tore into "Badge" that had the crowd on their feet! This has always been one of my personal favorites, and it came complete with the dramatic pauses that preface his solos. Loved it.
The next song was "Wonderful Tonight". It was met with approval, but also the stampede to the restrooms, or another drink etc ... typical ... in contrast, the next song, "Before You Accuse Me" was very up-tempo and flanked by keyboard solos from both Chris and Tim, as did the two following songs to end the set, "Little Queen Of Spades", and "Cocaine". Now mind you, Clapton was not at all idle during this period. He was all over the songs with some scorching solos of his own, and teaming with Willie Weeks and Steve Gadd to lay down the underlying beat!
The encore was "Crossroads", but a different version than had been played two nights before at Sacramento's ARCO Arena. This was a "funky" type of Crossroads, and was really very very appealing, and came with all the usual bells and whistles.
The show ended precisely at 11p, with the crowd (that was totally on it's feet by now) begging for more... but alas, it was not to be, leaving the crowd satisfied, but ever so slightly wanting for their favorite songs still to be played... Maybe next time around!
Review by Keith Coleman
I have to say it was an amazing show. Thanks to EC for for closing out with Crossroads. I loved how EC took the songs and changed them up a little. Being 25 years old, the people around me were impressed that I was able to name some of the songs when they started. I took history of rock and roll and learned a lot of the music and took interest in certain artist and learned their songs. EC was one of them because I just love his music.The best thing about that class was I did my report on Robert Johnson and it is great how EC plays his music and created his own from those roots. I do have one question though. With Layla, how come EC does not play it the way it was created, but only the way it was done on Unplugged? Either way, the song is great no matter how it is played. Thanks for a great concert and I am happy that EC is still playing were a young person as myself was able to see you live.
[Ed. note: EC plays Layla in the style of his 1992 "Unplugged" album when he is the only guitarist in the band. EC performs it in the style of the 1970 Derek & The Dominos original when he tours with another guitarist in his band. Two are needed for that version.]
Review by Tracey R. Ikerd / Fishers, IN
The MGM Grand Garden Arena was a terrific venue for a concert such as this in a city such as Las Vegas. The facility played Clapton music all day long in the casinos and restaurants setting an anxious mood as the show approached. Los Lobos received a lukewarm reception in spite of sharp guitar rifts and good vocals. Their most famous song, a cover of "La Bamba" was quite well received and topped off what turned out to be a 40 min set. Eric came on shortly after 9 to a raucous reception and the crowd never let up from there. "Key to the Highway" followed by a very upbeat version of "Going Down Slow" set the tone with Eric slicing through some fine axe work with his modest powder blue Fender Strat. The keyboards on Hoochie Coochie Man were exemplary and Tim Carmon held his own with the legendary Chris Stainton. Tim had several impressive solos throughout the night much to my surprise. In prior performances, notably at RAH, he seemed more in the background but not tonight. I will be interested to hear what others in attendance thought of him.
The night was stolen however, by Eric's solo in Old Love. It was a fierce blast of pure virtuoso shredding with the assault pushing 5 minutes long and brought the crowd to an absolute roar. This was a 1960's style solo that I was perhaps the best I have heard from him in a while. If this solo pops up on You Tube it is well worth a look and will not disappoint. His usual "I Shot the Sheriff" axe work built to a frenetic cresendo with each note clearly distinct and calculated. Amazing as usual .... Eric seemed really into things and almost seemed to dance while he played. When he is really into his playing he lifts raises his left leg and he did this plenty! He said little as usual but he was all smiles as he clearly fed off of the crowd's enthusiasm elevating him to his "A" game.
A suprisingly upbeat sit down session followed with highlights being "Nobody Knows You When You are Down and Out" and "When Somebody Thinks You are Wonderful". The numbers were jazzy and energetic and quite enjoyable. There was no real let down.
He closed strong and showed no sign of fatigue when he rocked through "Badge" and "Before You Accuse Me" ..... the latter song has been a recent staple of his shows and I look forward to it every time. I was hoping for "Further On Up the Road" but strong version of "Crossroads" closed things out. At age 65, there is still no better performer alive. Slowhand lives on ...
Review by Joy Whisnant-Pereira
Well, this show was phenomenal! Los Lobos opened up for Eric and the band for a 45 minute set. They were excellent. Then the exitement begins. Eric was in great form. He seemed rested and really relaxed.
The set list was the same as previous shows except Crossroads was the encore. I must say that "Old Love" was the highlight of the evening. Wow! Eric played his baby blue Strat, then switched to his Martin for the beginning of the acoustic set. Then a change to a full-bodied Gibson, which I don't think I've seen before, for "River Runs Deep" through "Same Old Blues". I think Eric was even taken back by how well he played "River Runs Deep". He leaned back in his chair on two legs for that one and stopped for a second at the end of the song to shake his head about how perfect it was. And it was! Then it was back to the Strat for the remaining songs. I can't say enough about how good this concert was. I'll put it up there in the top 10.