>Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood Toyota Center 6-24-09

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Sitting down at the Toyota Center before Clapton came out I knew this was going to be one of the more docile concerts I had been to lately. I had not seen too many women my age but the dirty thirty stalker turnout was impressive. Clapton and Winwood both walked out together picked up their Fender Stratocasters and busted right into Had to Cry Today. The crowd did start to holler but only a few women stood up.

As they continued to play, I was really impressed by the sound quality. Readers will know that I was less than impressed with the sound of the Dead at the Pepsi Center and am now highly critical of sound in arenas. Might have something to do with the engineer background. But this group was bumping the place. The huge drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. caught my attention quick. Not only was he a massive man, but his kit reverberated throughout the Toyota Center. I found out later he also toured with Paul McCartney and band. His drums sounded great throughout the concert, full bodied and always on time. I don’t think Clapton and Winwood could do this tour without such a great drummer holding everything together. He does not get enough credit.

As they started to play After Midnight I realized how intricate the light rig was. They had LED screens behind and above the stage. This song sounded great but the vocals were lacking. Not from the beautifully sounding backup singers; Michelle John and Sharon White but from Eric and Steve. For some reason they decided to both sing this classic J.J. Cale cover. As they were trading off talk singing “After Midnight” I was ready for the next song.

Presence of the Lord did not disappoint. A great Clapton ballad, that I learned through reading his autobiography, is actually about a house he moved into. The next few songs were some blues standards, Clapton sounded great on the strat as Windwood moved over to his grand piano and organ. Kept it nice and bluesy. I was surprised by how much they broke down some of these songs and really improvised, drummer as well. This was also the first time I noticed how good the keyboard player Chris Stainton was.

The next highlight came when Clapton and everyone walked off-stage except for Winwood. He sat alone at his Grand Piano and started playing the notes to Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. Awesome. The crowd really erupted for this one. He sounded great on vocals, truthfully better than Clapton did on the night as a whole, and I am a much bigger Eric fan. I also read that this was an unplanned song, sweet.

After that they brought out a few chairs and the acoustic guitars. Eric game back out with the band and they did some awesome acoustic versions of some of my favorite Clapton songs. Driftin’ was great as was Layla.

Can’t Find My Way Home was a treat, I knew that Blind Faith banger was coming. Finally the two of them sounded flawless on vocals together. For Voodoo Chile they brought the electric guitars back out, but they still never got to rocking as hard or in as fast a tempo as I would expect for this cover. As I sat waiting for the encore, I thought what song have they not played yet? Cocaine, yeah, called it. Great to hear and see the whole arena of 40+ year old women stand up for this one. Finally the crowd did rise, and attempt to dance. They really jammed this one out too, especially the keyboardist, video hera. Dear Mr. Fantasy was nice as well. I had seen Winwood play this once a few years ago at Bonnaroo, this version sounded much better. Great concert. No cups necessary.

All Images and video by TM3K. Email: TM3K@syrupdaily.com (Property of SyrupDaily.com TM)

Set List:
Had to Cry Today
Low Down
After Midnight
Presence of the Lord
Sleeping in the Ground
Glad
Well Alright
Tough Luck Blues
Pearly Queen
There’s a River
Forever Man
Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Drifin’
How Long Blues
Layla
Can’t Find My Way Home
Split Decision
Voodoo Chile
Encore:
Cocaine
Dear Mr. Fantasy

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