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Eric Clapton/Robert Randolph review 07/07/04


TimmyB
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I had seen Eric Clapton five times before last night and Clapton being my favorite guitarist of all-time I thought each show was great. We'll last night was the greatest yet! But first the opener.

Going to the last three bonnaroo's you're bound to see Robert Randolph somewhere even if you didn't go to his own set. This is what happened to me. Each year as Robert Randolph was playing his set I was seeing someone else. The first year I was seeing Ben Harper and Galactic during both of Roberts sets. The second year I saw a bit of his set with Susan Tedeschi on lead vocals performing "Devil In Desguise" and "Purple Haze," between Emmylou Harris and Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon. The last year I missed him again because I was tired, wet and cold. Though in the first year I did see him perform "Meat" with moe. and the second I saw him play with Widespread Panic with Warren Haynes, they did J.J. Cales "Ride Me High" and Panic's "Chilly Water." So finally last night I saw Randolph perform a whole set even if it was only an opening slot for a Clapton concert.

Like all Air Canada Centre show openers Randolph came out within a minute or two from the start time, which was 7:30pm. The crowd unfortunately sat the entire set but for an older crowd they were still respectively receptive. I've always felt that Randolph is the Jimi Hendrix of pedal steel guitar, and he doesn't hide it by performing an intrumental version of "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)." The set also included a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready." For the final song "I Don't Know What You Come To Do" the band changed intruments over and over again which was fun to watch.

Eric Clapton took the stage a little after 8:30pm casually walking out playing his new graphitti guitar. Then the show opened with "Let It Rain" from Eric's much overlooked debut solo album released in 1970. The band with Eric had many players that have been with Clapton for years.

Nathan East on bass, is now celebrating his 20th anniversary with Clapton being apart of every Eric Clapton tour since 1984, minus the "Nothing But The Blues Tour" in 1994. I have also seen Nathan perform with Phil Collins in the nineties. Nathan is also a co-founder of the jazz supergroup Fourplay with keayboardist Bob James, drummer Harvey Masson and guitarist Larry Carlton.

Chris Stainton on keyboards, is from from Sheffield, England. Chris started out playing bass with Joe Cocker in the original "Grease Band" in 1966 before moving to keyboards in 1968. Chris joined Clapton's for the 1979 tour and was also apart of Clapton's 1994 tour.

Steve Gadd on drums, is from Rochester, New York. Gadd was also apart of Claton's "Reptile World Tour" in 2001. Steve has also played with Paul Simon (who I saw him with), Steely Dan, Carly Simon, Paul McCartney, James Taylor, George Benson and Aretha Franklin.

Doyle Bramhall on guitar, is from Austin, Texas. Doyle started out in the Arc Angels in 1992, that consisted of Charlie Sexton on guitar with Stevie Ray Vaughan's rhythm section, Double Trouble. After they broke up Doyle started a solo career in 1996. In the late nineties not only Eric Clapton took notice of him being used on Clapton's last three albums, but Roger Waters did as well. Doyle played David Gilmour's part during Waters 1999/2000 "In The Flesh Tour". Andy Fairweather Low was also a guitarist with Waters on that tour and was the guitarist that Doyle has replaced as Clapton's second guitarist. This is Doyle's first tour with Clapton.

Billy Preston on keyboards, started his career playing with Ray Charles (may he rest in peace) and Little Richard. He went on to greater fame performing with the Beatles during the "Let It Be" and "Abbey Road" sessions and was apart of the famous rooftop performance. Billy has also toured with The Rolling Stones, the Jackson Five, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin and Sammy Davis Jr. Billy also had a successful solo career in the seventies and had a number one hit with "Will It Go Round In Circles" that the Trey Anastasio Band has been known to perform.

There were also two female backing vocalists, named Michelle John and Sharon White. Who were both apart of the recent Roxy Music reunion tours.

The next few tunes included my first "Walk Out In The Rain" which is a song Bob Dylan gave to Clapton for his "Backless" album in 1978. It's a song that Dylan has never released and was very happy to see it live.

After five songs Clapton and the band sat down and did an amazing set of Robert Johnson songs off his recent tribute to his favorite bluesman called "Me And Mr Johnson." The set included "Me And The Devil Blues," "They're Red Hot," "Milk Calf Blues," "(If I Had) Possession Over Judgement Day" and "Kind Hearted Woman."

The rest of the show was Clapton hits. Highlights for me lncluded the not often heard enough Derek And The Domino's song "Got To Get Better In A Little While." The song was recorded for the never finished second Dominos record and ended up on the live Domino's set "In Concert" that was later reissued as "Live At The Fillmore." It has the classic Clapton line "The sun has got to shine on my guitar someday."

Another highlight was my first time seeing "Badge" the song was cowritten with George Harrison for Cream's "Goodbye" album in 1968.

In the encore Robert Randolph came out to play on "Sunshine Of Your Love" and "I Got My Mojo Working." While Randolph was on stage the band was all smiles especially Clapton and Bramhall II.

During the course of the show I felt that Doyle Bramhall II really kicked Clapton into overdrive. It was great seeing Clapton perform a with a younger guitarist. If anyone missed this show and are able to cross the border, they should go and see Clapton at the HSBC in Buffalo, New York this Friday (July 9).

Here are the setlists from the show:

Robert Randolph and the Family Band

Start time 7:31pm

1. Good Times

2. Nobody

3. People Get Ready

4. Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

5. I Don't Know What You Come To Do

Finish time 8:08pm (total time 37 minutes)

Eric Clapton

8:32pm

1. Let It Rain

2. Hoochie Coochie Man

3. Walk Out In The Rain

4. I Want A Little Girl

5. Shot The Sheriff

6. Me And The Devil Blues

7. They're Red Hot

8. Milkcows Calf Blues

9. (If I Had) Possession Over Judgement Day

10. Kind Hearted Woman

11. Got To Get Better In A Little While

12. Have You Ever Loved A Woman

13. Badge

14. Wonderful Tonight

15. Layla

16. Cocaine

Encore: 17. Sunshine Of Your Love (with Robert Randolph)

18. I Got My Mojo Working (with Robert Randolph)

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It seems like posting another roll call for Eric Clapton at the HSBC Arena would be a bit of a waste of time as I don't think anyone off this forum went other than me.

But for anyone who can afford it and like Clapton even just a bit and are able to cross the border, I hope you read my review of the ACC show and it helps you decide to go. Trust me you won't be disappointed.

To those that have seen one or both of Clapton's last couple of tours, this show is different, and by different I mean better. Not just because of the inclusion of Clapton classics like "Badge," "Let It Rain" and "Got To Get Better In A Little While." But also he is not playing any of his weaker material off his last few records like "Change Your World" and most of the tunes off of "Reptile."

But the main reason this tour is better than the last few tours is because of one man, and his name is Doyle Bramhall II.

I don't want to diminish what Andy Fairweather Low did in Clapton's band in previous tours. I fondly remember Andy's amazing playing during their cover of Big Joe Turner's song "Got You On My Mind" in 2001. Andy is a great compliment to any player in the genre of rock and blues.

It's that Doyle is around a quarter of a century younger than Clapton and has shot some youth into Clapton's playing. I read about while he was touring Europe in a spring and I got to witness it myself on Wednesday at the Air Canada Centre.

Also Doyle being an American born and raised from Austin, Texas. Where at sixteen was playing with Jimmie Vaughan in the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Growing up in a family where his father was a drummer with Lightning Hopkins and collaborated with Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, he obviously knows how to kick the guitar into overdrive.

Clapton reminds me right now of when he was performing with artists that were mostly from the American south and he was on Tulsa time.

Anyway I said I wasn't going to do a roll call and now it seems I have. Who's coming to see God?

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Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

I'm an atheist.

Nice review Timmy. I haven't really been in a Clapton zone for a few years now. I still feel the urge to play Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs from time to time, since Duane to me is the same as Clapton is to you. This Clapton tour does interest me however, since Robert Johnson's devil delta-blues has never really left me. I've never seen Eric live, but I will someday. The timing was bad for the ACC show since I just dropped a ton of bread on a new car. Maybe I'll go next time he hits Toronto.

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Last night at the HSBC Arena the setlist was the same for Clapton, and surprisingly the same for Robert Randolph too.

I enjoyed the Toronto show more as it was the first time seeing those sets and also in Toronto I had 20th row centre, while in Buffalo I was eighteen rows up in the 100 level.

Though I did enjoy the crowd in Buffalo better than I did in Toronto (which I go into further discussion on my post "Why are American crowds better than Canadian?").

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