Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Doyle Bramhall II – guitar / vocals
Chris Stainton– keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Abe Laboriel, Jr. – drums
Michelle John – backing vocals
Sharon White – backing vocals
01. Tell The Truth
02. Key To The Highway
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Here But I'm Gone
05. I Shot The Sheriff
06. Little Wing
08. Travelin' Alone
09. Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down And Out)
10. Motherless Child
11. Running On Faith
12. Motherless Children
13. Little Queen of Spades
14. Before You Accuse Me
15. Wonderful Tonight
18. Crossroads (encore)
Review by Stuart Newton / Sydney, Australia
I have just come in from the Sydney EC concert and there were a number of changes to the set list. Included tonight were "Little Wing" in place of "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad" and an electric version of "Before You Accuse Me" in place of "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" plus an accoustic version of "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" in place of "That's Alright" (I think). The 2 shows are blending into one at the moment!
I was at the Hunter Valley concert last night too. I think EC was in better form tonight in Sydney. He seemed to be more jovial on stage and the band was chatting and laughing amongst themselves throughout the show. The solos seemed to go longer tonight for both EC and the rest of the band. When I read some of the other reviews for other countries I thought I may be disappointed with the shows, but they were full of energy and style. I enjoyed both shows immensely and hope EC tours Australia again.
Review by Ian Bennie / Sydney, Australia
I'm always intrigued at the attraction of a true star. When you arrive at a concert venue early and see streams of people making their way through various streets and from nearby carparks heading to the same building you are, you realise it's not only you happily listening to an artist on your home cd player or in your car. You begin to glimpse their legendary worldwide appeal. As so it was with Eric Clapton's concert at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Sunday night.
The show began at 8.30pm with Eric walking on stage with his Band, playing some intro notes on his pale blue coloured Strat. The capacity audience unleashed its appreciation.
The first two numbers were flawless and were lapped up by the audience. Then with the third number, "Hoochie Coohie Man", Eric seemed to change gears into Stratocaster overdrive and Sydney became the epi-centre of world class Blues-Rock. His solos were long and blistering. My son and I thought it was classic Clapton, the Clapton we've heard on the "live" cds and dvds.
A special treat for me as a Clapton Stratocaster fan came with the number "Motherless Children". Eric played that song with a black and white Strat sporting Lace Sensor Pick-ups. I wondered if it was the "Blackie 2" Strat, featured on Page 81 in "The Story of the Fender Stratocaster" by Ray Minhinnett & Bob Young.
His entire Band was fantastic, standouts being Doyle Bramhall and Chris Stainton who continually drew enthusiastic ovations from the audience.
The Programme featured info about the Band but also included GREAT colour pictorials and history of Eric's famous guitars over his career, a collectors item! And I bought the souvenir baseball cap. Black with the word "Clapton" in red on the front in that US College football type font and embroided on the back in red "Australia New Zealand 2009". I thought, "ah ha, how cool, this one's just for us." Thanks Eric, my son and I loved it.
Review by Peter Hefford / Sydney, Australia
Little Wing was played as Derek & Dominoes version! Very very lucky to get that one. Eric and the band were in fantastic form. There was a lot of hype surrounding the 2007 shows in Australia (I don't mean that critically, it may have just been because of Eric's then 17 year absence plus his heavy hitting band) but the show last night had a more informal, relaxed feeling but still stellar musicianship. With the absence of Derek Trucks and Steve Jordan, it was pretty much the same personnel as 2007.
Willie Weeks was laying down those big fat bass grooves (great player!) and good solid drumming from Abe Laboriel Jr. With that beard he did look "Abe" (Lincoln) like. Chris Stainton is always a treat and given a number of solos. Sweet backing female vocals (Michelle John, Sharon White). Doyle Bramhall II, who didn't seem to get his just credit in 2007 as everyone was then talking about Derek Trucks, was in great and versatile form. He was playing great rhythm and slide guitar and was given a few good shots by the boss at lead guitar and lead vocals.
Eric looked relaxed, well and in good spirits in a loose fitting open necked (almost safari-like) shirt and blue jeans. The long hair - compared to when I last saw him! - and absence of beard (maybe a bit of stubble) gave him the look of a noble elder-statesman rock-star (The Artist Formerly Known As God) and rightly so.
Eric mainly played what looked like a Fender American Vintage '57 stratocaster all night in surf green (kind of light blue) but it had noiseless pick-ups which Eric favours these days*. He had a great tone happening through that tweed amp. Some of his solos were still jaw-dropping.
But EC surprisingly kind of fluffed a part in the opening of Layla. Eric changed to a "blackie" strat only once (the one with the lace sensor pick-ups) for slide on "Motherless Children".
The sound mix was great and I think better than 2007. Nice and clear and not too loud where you could separately hear all the instruments and voices.
EC came on stage promptly at 8:30pm on a Sunday night, playing for a few minutes under 2 hours allowing his now mainly older fans (including myself) to get their beauty sleep before going to work on Monday morning. All in all, a very pleasant and memorable night.
* Ed. note: On this tour, EC has been using two new custom shop stratocasters in Daphne Blue. It is a standard Fender colour.
Review by Mitchell Verdonk / Perth, Australia
When I first bought the tickets for this concert I knew flying from Perth to see Eric was pricey and a lot of effort but if anyone asks me was it worth it I would say HELL YES!
After hearing reviews of the Japanese concerts, I thought that Eric was slowing down and once he walked out at around 830 pm I thought he was looking frailer than in 2007.
As soon as he tore into "Tell the Truth though", it was a completely different story. He sounded, louder more distorted and if I dare say it, more like "God" than he had in Perth 2007. The solo he played for "Tell The Truth" was to set the bar for the night.
The next song - "Key To The Highway" - had soaring solo which the crowd loved. Then the awesome riff of "Hoochie Coochie Man" , which gave the crowd another extended solo from the entire band. "Here But I’m Gone" was less well received song by the crowd, but I found the song to be one of the highlights of the night, with fantastic soloing not just from Eric, but from Doyle too. There was a short pause before Eric started the hit classic, "I Shot The Sheriff", which produced what has to be the BEST solo of the night.
Then one song I was hoping for but didn’t expect to hear, "Little Wing," and what a version it was. Eric pulled out a fantastic performance and Doyle made Eric play harder and faster than the previous songs. Once "Little Wing" was over and the crowd settled, Eric started the acoustic set with "Driftin’". Then the set took another turn from previous nights with "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out". And what a version it was.
"Motherless Child" and "Running On Faith" were both fantastic, but once the acoustic was put away, Eric brought out an original black Clapton Strat with Gold Lace Sensors for "Motherless Children" which had both Eric and Doyle fighting for solo time.
The very extended "Little Queen Of Spades" was next with the highlight solo going to Chris Stainton. Surprisingly, Willie Weeks had a quiet night , not like his performance from previous years.
Another surprise was "Before You Accuse Me", but not just because of its addition but because of the tempo in which Eric played it. He started the song in the standard way but then sped up the chorus to reinvent the song one again.
Then the inevitable, but lovely, "Wonderful Tonight" was played and there was love in the air as all the ladies hugged their men. And as soon as the last note was played it went dark for 2 seconds and I heard Eric count "1, 2, 1, 2, 3" and he blasted into "Layla." He slipped on the second bar of the riff, but not too many people cared. He made up for the slip when he played a longer than usual solo. Then he started the coda. Many people in the top of the centre were dancing at this point and before the final bars could be played, Eric ripped into "Cocaine" and the crowd went wild again.
Eric's "Cocaine" solo was not as impressive as was anticipated, but the song was picked up by Doyle and Chris. The final bars was a let down by the crowd as many members didn’t help finish by shouting "COCAINE". And just like that Eric walked off stage.
After about a minute of standing ovations and some members of the crowd throwing flowers he returned to the stage for a blistering "Crossroads", which was a bit longer than expected and then it was all over. There was a final bow and Eric and the band walked off the stage.
The concert was by far better than the one in Perth in 2007, the set list had changed, the band had changed and the legend has got better.
Review by Jon Maclean
Eric Clapton and his band gave an efficient and inspiring show in his only Sydney appearance on Sunday 8 March. With a set list pretty much identical to that used in Japan, there were few surprises, but it was evident the Japanese leg had galvanised the band into a very tight unit. Most impressive was the combined guitar work of Eric and Doyle, who played rhythm in unison on several occasions, giving added punch to several songs, particularly "Tell The Truth" and "Here But I’m Gone". The latter was possibly the highlight of the evening, a vibrant and forceful reading of the best number from Curtis Mayfield’s final album. Eric took solos twice during the song and was clearly enjoying pushing himself. Relaxed and smiling, he even took a moment to say "Hello Martin (Sharp), if you’re here. My friend Martin," before he began the acoustic set. Here, Eric played acoustic, but Doyle continued to play electric, which had the effect of adding sharpness to the songs and blending the entire set better.
Overall, Doyle impressed me greatly. The departure of Derek Trucks potentially left a large hole in the band, but Doyle has stepped up a notch and his lead fills, many with slide, were engaging and varied. His style compliments Eric’s nicely and their combination and understanding was one of the most impressive aspects of the whole performance.
The set list works well, Eric has devised a good compromise, blending the new, the standards and the favourites most effectively.
Thirty-year Clapton veteran Chris Stainton was entertaining on piano and occasional organ, and even injected a freshness into the "Layla" coda with his inventive solo.
"Crossroads" as the obligatory encore closed proceedings and I left the auditorium feeling it would only be a very harsh critic who found disappointment in what we had just witnessed. It was also pleasing to see Eric has finally succumbed to the onset of grey hair, much like the rest of us.
* Ed. note: Martin Sharp is an Australian artist. Moving to London in the 1960s, he contributed to "Oz" magazine, created concert posters for the likes of Dylan and Hendrix and designed the artwork for Cream's "Disraeli Gears" and "Wheels of Fire" albums.