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Eric Clapton Lets the Music Do the Talking in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Blues guitar legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Eric Clapton has found himself featured in the press these past many months more for his stance on the lockdowns and response to the pandemic than for his music. However, the recently much maligned performer was determined to put that all behind him when he and his amazing band hit the stage at the Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee.


Eric Clapton - a real "guitar god" - makes an appearance in Nashville.

Clapton is no stranger to having volumes written about him over the years - both good and bad - during a career that has now touched on seven decades. His body of work and groundbreaking artistry through his solo output and with bands such as Cream, Blind Faith, The Yardbirds, Derek and the Dominos and others long ago landed him the weighty nickname of "god".

But, many of his followers have denounced the man for his anti-lockdown songs penned with Van Morrison and for his own personal reporting on the negative and near crippling side effects he experienced from taking a double dose of one of the Covid-19 vaccines. In short, "god" experienced a very public form of character crucifixion and it was unpleasant to watch. Eric documented his feelings on the matter in his latest single called "This Has Gotta Stop" - not played in Nashville - where he decries the situation saying "I can't take this BS any longer".


Doyle Bramhall II and surprise guest Marcus King show off their chops during the encore.

So, with all that crap aside we can report that E.C.'s remaining faithful flock did turn out in droves for his Music City stop that was part of a very special and limited run of eight dates hastily announced in June with destinations set in Texas and the American South presumably due to those regions being more open and sympathetic to the rocker's current plight and predicament. In Mid-Tenn, "god" did not disappoint and by all accounts Clapton and company were energized and on a mission to simply let the music do the talking in the state's capitol city.

With support from an accomplished band that included longtime protégé Doyle Bramhall II, legendary rock singer and keyboardist Paul Carrack, Nathan East, Sonny Emory, Steve Gadd and Chris Stainton with Sharon White and Katie Kissoon on backing vocals and special guest Jimmie Vaughan in the opening slot the Bridgestone Arena was set to experience a much needed night of the blues even as much uncertainty and confusion still circles the planet.


Paul Carrack and Chris Stainton on keys; opener Jimmie Vaughan returned for the closing number.

A one-two punch opening pair of "Pretending" and "Key to the Highway" alerted the crowd that Eric wasn't messing around as the show was off and motoring to a fine start that would lead to many key destinations on the Clapton musical landscape. A funky version of "I Shot the Sheriff" and a sturdy delivery of "Cocaine" reminded the assembled just how the reserved Englishman ultimately ascended to rock glory while "Got to Get Better in a Little While" served as a sermon-like focal point that things can get good again in the future.

A mid-show set recalled the days back in 1992 when Clapton rejuvenated his approach to live music on MTV's "Unplugged" series. For this ground-breaking television show Eric rearranged many of his classic songs for the acoustic context and the resulting "Unplugged" album went on to become a bestseller moving over 26 million worldwide units and earning the artist six Grammy Awards for the album, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year ("Tears in Heaven"). That cut received the most heartfelt response of the night in Nashville while "Layla" shone with its groove and vibe. Peter Green's "Man of the World" was a treat while "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" gave room for Clapton to maybe editorialize from the stage about the high profile backlash he has received from fans and foes alike.


Eric Clapton was seriously good in Nashville.

The band returned to the stage for a blistering encore of "High Time We Went" that would truly send the crowd back into the rain drenched night. But, not before Clapton would get the chance to symbolically pass the crown on to a young gun from South Carolina fittingly named Marcus King - who like all the great "Kings" before him is being hailed as an heir to the blues guitar mantle. As for Clapton, there is no getting around the fact that he is now an elder statesman in the genre. We were all taught to respect our elders and that is perhaps the most fitting word to describe this evening's concert - RESPECT and much of it to the man and his band.

SETLIST: Pretending | Key to the Highway | I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man | I Shot the Sheriff | Driftin' Blues (Johnny Moore's Three Blazers cover) | Man of the World (Fleetwood Mac cover) | Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out (Jimmy Cox cover) | Tears in Heaven | Layla | Got to Get Better in a Little While | Wonderful Tonight | Little Queen of Spades (Robert Johnson cover) | Cocaine | Encore | High Time We Went (Joe Cocker cover with Jimmie Vaughan & Marcus King)


A look at the Eric Clapton stage and full band set up in Music City.

Related Links: For more information on ERIC CLAPTON and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Eric Clapton | Jimmie Vaughan | Jimmie Vaughan Brings Texas Blues to Nashville | Bridgestone Arena

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