(Palace of Auburn Hills, MI - April 5th, 2007)
Amazingly true, Eric Clapton is still on a World Tour that started in Europe on May 5th, 2006! And yet tonight, in front of a sold-out 32,000 packed house he seems fresh, happy, and far from road weary.
At 8.40pm Clapton's band members - including the electric and multi-talented Doyle Bramhall II - took the stage, followed quietly, and yet eagerly by the man himself. Heading immediately for the sanctuary of his center stage large Persian rug, the thunderous applause rings out and as people get out of their seats and onto their feet, Clapton can't help but strike a random chord or two.
Lit by a backdrop of multi-colored standing lights, he immediately broke into 'Tell The Truth,' followed by a cool version of 'Key To The Highway' from his collaboration with B.B. King. Still without a word to the audience [all he ever does say is "Thankyou" a handful of times!], he follows this up with the smooth 'Got To Get Better In A Little While' and then the Jimi Hendrix classic, 'Little Wing.' This was a truly wonderful moment with Clapton putting his own blues stamp on what has always been a classic in its own right.
Bathed in blue lights for much of the evening (of course), his bluesy set feel made this a very settled, no-surprises event; and yet contained not one ounce of generic feel to it. Sharing the musical spotlight with his band of merry men - a truly great cast of touring musicians, if ever there was - he lets them have their own extended solo moments; whilst the proud 'papa' leans back and contentedly jams along in the 'background.'
Indeed, every member of his band was highly impressive, but it was his shared mic and guitar chord time with the always-tight Doyle Bramhall II that was the true comfort zone of the gig. And where Willie Weeks on bass, Steve Jordan on drums, and Chris Stanton and Tim
Carmen on keyboards were also at their finest, it was these two front of stage that kept the motor purring.
Continuing on and before the sit down acoustic set the wonderful 'Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?' is brought forth. And then, as expected, Clapton takes a seat all alone and brings us an acoustic version of 'Driftin' before he's rejoined in this setting by some of the others for such songs as 'Outside Woman Blues,' 'Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out' and 'Running On Faith.'
Steering the EC set into its final bend, another highlight was hearing the old song 'Motherless Children,' quickly being followed by 'Little Queen Of Spades' and 'Further On Up The Road.' But, just when you were fearing the worst for those classic Clapton hits, out of nowhere he strikes a few gentle chords and 'Wonderful Tonight' is upon us. Indeed, no sooner has the last chord been struck on that song before a deeper, harder one is struck for the opening of 'Layla.' Bringing a severe chill to course down my spine, seeing and hearing it played live is something I'll never, ever forget.
Coming back out after a delay of a few minutes, the first encore played is the classic 'Cocaine' - a heavily extended version, at that! - which everyone sang along to. This is then followed up by Robert Cray joining in and taking lead vocal for the final song of this one hour and 40 minute set, 'Crossroads.' Put plain and simple ... 'Slowhand' still f**kin' rocks!!
Review by Russell A. Trunk
Photos by Carlos E. Moreno
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