×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Concert Review: Eric Clapton Proves He Still Has the Goods With Madison Square Garden Set

Eric Clapton wrapped a two-night stand at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Sunday night with a 90-minute set proving that despite his recent health issues, he still has the energy and chops to deliver a memorable concert.

Since concluding his 50th anniversary trek last year, the 73-year-old has retired from full-scale touring in favor of spot dates. He was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy in 2013, a nerve disease that causes tingling in extremities and painful “shocks,” which makes playing guitar and performing difficult.

Despite all that, on Sunday night Clapton tackled his catalog of classics like a man who has something to prove. While he may have lost some of the spark he showed in the late ’80s and early ’90s — and many fans were overheard wondering before the show whether he still had the goods — he wowed crowd with a stellar set in what could be, but hopefully isn’t, a farewell.

The three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee walked on the stage to a thunderous ovation and grabbed his iconic black Fender Stratocaster as drummer Sonny Emory, guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, keyboardist and vocalist Paul Carrack, keyboardist Chris Stainton and singers Sharon White and Sharlotte Gibson followed.

They opened with “Somebody’s Knocking,” which was an unreleased J.J. Cale cover he recorded during his 2016 sessions for “I Still Do.” From the opening notes Clapton proved his soaring guitar tone and fluid technique are as powerful as they ever were, although his seasoned voice was the weakest link in the show.

Clapton loosened up during a rousing version of Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff,” and followed with a laid-back acoustic set. The crowd grew a little restless, but snapped to attention when he played the “Unplugged” arrangement of “Layla” and  followed with a reggae-influenced take of “Tears in Heaven.”

He followed with a brace of classics to round out the main set: Cream’s “White Room,” the ballad “Wonderful Tonight,” two Robert Johnson tunes — “Crossroads” and “Little Queen of Spades” — and finally “Cocaine,” which got the crowd out of their seats and ended the set on a high note.

The crowd roared when Clapton returned for the encore, prompting the man-of-few-words to say simply, “You’re unbelievable. Thank you!” He then brought out opening acts Gary Clark Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan to join him on the final song of the night, “High Time We Went.” Paul Carrack sang the tune with authority as the guitarists took turns soloing over the song.

During his opening set, Clark Jr. wowed the audience with his bluesy guitar playing and soulful vocals. During his 45-minute set, the Texas native paused to take in his surroundings: “It’s not every day I get to do this. I’m kinda tripping.” He closed his set with a resounding version of “Bright Lights.”

Jimmie Vaughan opened the show with a mellow set highlighted by a cover of Bruce Channel’s 1961 hit “Hey Baby” and a brilliant cover of “Texas Flood,” in honor of his late-brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Concert Review: Eric Clapton Proves He Still Has the Goods With Madison Square Garden Set

More Music

  • Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Starring in

    Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Starring in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' for Netflix

    Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman will star in the movie adaptation of the play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” for Netflix. George C. Wolfe (“Lackawanna Blues”) will direct from a script by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, based on the award-winning play by August Wilson. Other cast include Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and Michael Potts. Denzel [...]

  • 'Dreamgirls' Uk Premiere at the Odeon

    Mathew Knowles Says Beyonce's Career Benefited, Kelly Rowland's Suffered From Skin Tone Bias

    Beyonce’s father, Mathew Knowles, addressed the perceptions of skin tone outside of and even within the African American community in an interview with SiriusXM, saying that his daughter’s career was “affected” by her lighter skin, and that the effect might have been the opposite for Destiny’s Child bandmate Kelly Rowland. In the interview with “The [...]

  • Vivendi Chairman of the Supervisory Board

    Vivendi 'Not in a Hurry' to Sell Universal Music Group

    Yannick Bollore, chairman of the supervisory board of Universal Music Group parent company Vivendi, implicitly extended the projections for the sale of UMG by around six months in a interview today. He said Vivendi is “not in a hurry” to wrap the sale and is “very confident” it will find the right partner to purchase [...]

  • Riverdale Alladin Avengers Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame,' 'Riverdale,' 'Aladdin' Top 2019 Teen Choice Award Nominations

    The nominations for the 2019 Teen Choice Awards have been revealed, and voting has opened for the top movies, TV shows and music that has dominated the last year. “Avengers: Endgame” and “Aladdin” are the top contenders in the movie category with nine and five nods, respectively. In TV, “Riverdale,” “The Flash” and “Shadowhunters” each [...]

  • Processed With Darkroom

    Concert Review: Billie Eilish Mesmerizes New York Audience on a Suitably Spooky Night

    It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic setting for a concert by music’s fastest-rising star than an open-air, rooftop venue beside New York’s East River, with the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges illuminated behind the stage and stunning panoramic views of the harbor and the city everywhere else. It’s mid-June, school is about to let out [...]

  • Big Deal Music Names Jamie Cerreta,

    Big Deal Music Names Jamie Cerreta and Casey Robison Co-Presidents

    Big Deal Music Group today announced a series of promotions among its senior staff, naming Jamie Cerreta and Casey Robison (pictured above, right and left) co-presidents. The announcement comes from Kenny MacPherson, who is assuming the new role of Chief Executive Officer. All three executives will continue operating out of the company’s Los Angeles headquarters. [...]

  • Camila Cabello

    Camila Cabello Reveals Podcast Obsessions, Teases New Album at Cannes Lions

    Camila Cabello was the featured speaker at a Tuesday afternoon panel at Cannes Lions, the annual gathering of marketing, design and entertainment professionals in the south of France. Joined by Spotify chief content officer Dawn Ostroff, the talk, moderated by Variety editor Shirley Halperin, was centered around the theme of the golden age of sound [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content