Clapton is Still God

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Photo: Eric Clapton on stage at Cow Palace, San Francisco, July 21, 1974, just before his shows featuring cameos by Pete Townshend and Keith Moon. Courtesy: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Photo: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Nearly 47 years ago I saw Cream play the Royal Albert Hall in London, it was their farewell gig. I like many others in the audience wondered what the future might hold for Eric Clapton, of course we didn’t have to wait long. There was Blind Faith, Delaney and Bonnie’s band, Derek and the Dominoes and then a solo career that was full of highs and a few lows. There has been so much great music in those intervening years and much of it was represented during Clapton’s first of seven shows, in this his birthday year. And they were all played with the consummate musical grace that Clapton has patented.

Clapton had played a couple of shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden at the beginning of May and his London shows featured an identical set list to the first of his US dates, once again opening with J.J. Cale’s ‘Somebody Knocking’. There was a nod to Blind Faith with ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’, sung tonight by bass player Nathan East, there was Cream’s ‘Cross Road Blues’, outstanding on the night, and ‘Layla’ from his Derek and the Dominos days, but tonight he did it acoustically and it was superb. He also did ‘Key to the Highway’ from the Layla album and it was an early indication that this was to be an evening steeped in the blues; later during his acoustic segment he did, ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’.

Among the tracks he revisited from his solo albums was ‘Let It Rain’ that was the closing number from his eponymous 1970 album. There was ‘I Shot The Sheriff’ from 461 Ocean Boulevard. The opening number of his acoustic set was ‘Driftin Blues that he was doing back in the mid seventies and it was featured on the live 1975 album, EC Was Here.

Slowhand was represented by a blistering version of, ‘Cocaine’ and a delicate ‘Wonderful Tonight’. Fast forward to 1989 and Journeyman and Bo Diddley’s ‘Before You Accuse Me’ and ‘Pretending’ were his chosen track. Muddy Waters’s ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ was full of attack and Clapton’s guitar screamed, but in that particularly musical way that he’s made his own. Robert Johnson’s ‘Little Queen of Spades’, covered by Clapton on his 2004 tribute to the blues legend was another highlight of the night.

The band was made up of long time friends and musical mates. Aside from East there was Steve Gadd on drums. Paul Carrack played organ and keyboards and sang Joe Cocker’s ‘You Are so Beautiful. Cocker’s old Grease Band pianist Chris Stainton played some fabulous piano throughout the night, arning himself a standing ovation; Michelle John and Sharon White provided backing vocals. For the encore it was another Joe Cocker song, the rousing ‘High Time We Went’ where Eric was joined by his only guest of the night, Andy Fairweather Low whose band was the opening act.

And then they were gone. Two hours of consummate blues, Clapton classics and a set that beautifully crafted and paced. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. And if you had told me 47 years ago that I would be back at the Albert Hall watching Clapton play I would not have believed it. For me Clapton was God in the 1960s and in 2015 Clapton is still God.

01. Somebody Knocking
02. Key To The Highway
03. Pretending
04. Hoochie Coochie Man
05. You Are So Beautiful
06. Can’t Find My Way Home
07. I Shot The Sheriff
08. Driftin’ Blues
09. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
10. Tears In Heaven
11. Layla
12. Before You Accuse Me
13. Wonderful Tonight
14. Let It Rain
15. Crossroads
16. Little Queen Of Spades
17. Cocaine
18, High Time We Went (Encore)

Words: Richard Havers

Visit our dedicated Eric Clapton page here

Format: Union Jack flagUK English


  1. joanne verdun

    May 15, 2015 at 1:17 am

    FANN!! Depuis toujours…

  2. TOM TOM

    May 15, 2015 at 2:40 am

    Great Review…Saw Clapton quite a few times in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s….Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes we’re Tops…after that. well, I suppose those we’re the ”Lows” you mentioned…His playing is still Great and I’m glad to see 5 musicians on stage instead of the 20 plus, he usually plays with….Happy Birthday Eric !

  3. Mike korwek

    May 15, 2015 at 5:31 am

    Ebjoy mate.! You are simply luckily to be there enjoy , close your eyes during the solos and just take it all in

  4. Lee Kovalskyj

    May 15, 2015 at 9:10 am

    What a man! What a career! And what a catalog of great songs!

  5. Pascal Gauthier

    May 15, 2015 at 9:30 am

    La stratocaster de Slowhand nous envoie toujours de “good vibes”!

  6. paul

    May 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm


  7. John Podworniak

    May 15, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    I’ve listened to Eric for nearly 45 years. Love his music. I was fortunate to take pictures of Eric when he toured in our city. I have one picture that shows Eric playing “White Room” and back lit showing just an outline of Eric and his guitar. One of my favorite pictures I ever took. It was hard to take pictures while soaking up his talent at the same time. Thank You Eric for the music.

  8. Rich Walker

    May 15, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Clapton is still God? Gimme a break. I like his playing but there are scores of players in the world sitting on their back porch who have more happening with the instrument. I never knew what the draw was with him. You want to talk about guitar gods you need to mention Wes, Pat Martino, Johnny Smith, Charlie Christian….just those are gonna knock Clapton over into guitar purgatory.

    • Steve

      May 15, 2015 at 11:50 pm

      I make you right EC really has flatlined since the cream days and unlike players like SRV who played like every song may be their last he never lets rip and doesn’t inject excitement in his work just doing enough to get by .

  9. Thomas Long

    May 17, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Awesome review… My first concert was Eric back in 1975 and I’m praying I get the chance to see him again. The Royal Albert Hall would have been a perfect venue!

  10. E. Farber

    May 17, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    In reading some of your comments about Clapton. Many of you feel he should have the same energy at 25 in comparison to 70 years old. Check out a previous concert with Clapton and Winwood live at MSG. Listen to Double Trouble, Little Wing and Voo Doo Chile. Then tell me your opinion of this classic guitarist. Clapton, is highly respected but portrayed the best player as Jimi Hendrix. Let’s make sure comparison of guitarist are predicated on there style of playing.

  11. lawrence squire

    May 17, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    bad fuckin’ ass

  12. hans-werner rust

    May 18, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    eric ist seit 1965 einer meiner liebsten gitaristen und saenger,
    ein kuenstler in seinem koennen,ich habe eigentlich keine ausreichenden worte um
    ihn richtig zu beschreiben, jedes mal ist es ein genuss ihn zu hoeren,
    danke eric.

  13. shawn

    May 19, 2015 at 5:10 am

    He can still make a guitar weep. A living legend who had me playing !Can’t find my way home” and “badge” rill my vinyl wouldnt play anymore. Haters are jealous of the longevity of his career.

  14. Paul

    May 20, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Eric Clapton is still a supremely tasteful player who has mellowed with age. All the morons who expect that he is going to sound like he did in 68 are fools. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody. Long live Eric!

  15. Kernel

    June 28, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    I was at the concert the following night, and the setlist was very similar. God, what a show.

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