Eric Clapton wrapped up the first leg of his US Tour by the end of 2006 and in January 2007, began his Far East Tour 2007. The touring band includes Doyle Bramhall II on guitar, Derek Trucks on slide guitar, Willie Weeks on bass, Steve Jordan on drums, Chris Stainton on keyboards, Tim Carmon on keyboards, Michelle John on backing vocals, Sharon White on backing vocals. Hong Kong finally got another taste of Eric Clapton last January 17, 2007 at the Asiaworld Arena-and the show was packed!
The band kicked off with Tell the Truth, which for me was not the best opening song choice in the world…Then they gave way to Key to the Highway, which was just OK, really. After that, they got on to Got To Get Better In A Little While, which was completely, by contrast, just amazing! Afterwards, they did Little Wing, whereupon every screeching guitar note just got me revved up through a series of emotional highs and inexorable excitement…pure musical bliss! I got the entire number on video, and it’s something that will certainly be part of my cabinet of memories forever and ever…
The last song of the first set was Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, which led to an amazing jam session as well. In retrospect, the real star of the show was not much Eric. He was the selling point, alright, but Derek Trucks stole the night. His slide guitar playing…I have never seen anything like it in my life!! He was something else…and every time he played, he seemed to go into this divinely induced trance and he’d churn out some of the most wonderful guitar sounds you’d ever heard…
For the sit-down acoustic set, Eric did a solo rendition of Driftin. I don’t know how he manages to conk out those wonderfully clear, crisp notes from his acoustic so effortlessly…the clarity and emotive impact of the song was intense, and I was even more thoroughly impressed than I have been by watching his concert videos all this time. Outside Woman Blues was up next, and it was a very refreshing acoustic take that I could never have imagined, really! It was superb, although a bit more whimsical and less intense than the normal version he plays with Cream. After this, the band did Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out—this song can never go wrong acoustic. It was so great, and Chris Stainton was doing his mad scientist bit on the keyboards!! Nobody could ever replace Billy Preston of course, but Chris was quite commensurate. He absolutely looked, sounded and played like the musician gone mad; his blues riffs and improvs were horrifically intense and so packed with lots of fizz…like a soda can that you shake madly until it just explodes! His fingers seemed to glide across the keys and he’d tackle any part of the keyboard he’d develop a fixation on in a split second, and his gleaming eyes were so intense and focused that they seemed to be able to command the keyboard from a distance. Amazing. Breathlessly amazing.
Running On Faith was the last one off their acoustic set. It was good, and I love the song, but I can’t say I was thoroughly impressed with this one. It doesn’t quite come close to the version on Unplugged, although Derek, as usual, was incredible on his Dobro.
The final set kicked off with Motherless Children, which was just alright. The energy really started to set in with the band’s electric jam of Little Queen of Spades. Now this was something I haven’t heard them do, and the entire number was like an extended jam session. It was incredible really! First off was Eric, then Doyle Bramhall II who blew the audience away with his slow, emotive solo that builds up to this really intense climax, and Derek of course, who pulled off not a few hat tricks on his slide guitar. And the guy fingerpicks! It’s a tough act to follow! Next to Little Wing, this was probably my favorite number of the night—I was just fixated in awe watching these guys do their magic onstage! Anyday and Wonderful Tonight came up next. Personally, I think they overplay the latter on their concerts…I would have much rather heard Bellbottom Blues, which fits in so much better into their mostly Derek and the Dominos set list. In retrospect, I was disappointed they didn’t do Bellbottom; I was half expecting them to the whole time. The last one off the set was Layla, complete with the sentimental keyboard bridge, and it was wonderful! The sharp contrast from the blasting rock riffs, to the raging chorus, to the fading resonance of the guitars, and the subtle, gentle swaying of the keyboard…It was just so, so beautiful, the music…I especially love the transition to the final jazz progression towards the ending—beautiful, just beautiful. That was hands down the best version of Layla I’ve heard so far!
They did come back for the encore, although I didn’t even think it was the encore! See, time just really flies when you’re having a great time. Cocaine got everyone up on their feet, dancing and swaying And finally, what concert would be complete without Eric’s signature rendition of Crossroads?! It was one awesome jam session. I cannot say enough of Derek and Chris’s flawless, powerful, ruthless execution.
An awesome concert, but only if it could’ve lasted a bit longer…Eric’s playing is in excellent shape and really, fans couldn’t ask for more. His tour is a must-see, especially for avid fans of his Derek and the Dominos days.