[Slowhand] Opening Night at La Palestre

Michael Sawin msawin at hotmail.com
Sat May 6 16:52:50 EDT 2006

It's amazing. Without even listening to how good the band were and what the
set was really like, after 1 night, people are ready to dismiss this new
tour. Jeesh, what does it take to keep you doubting Norah's happy?
Let me tell you right now that after being lucky enough to get to see last
nights opening date, contrary to some people's beliefs, Eric is alive and
well and playing his bloody socks off!
This is not a casual fan talking but a fully paid up member of the 'saddo'
contingent who has been along for the ride on tour with Eric since 1974 and
an admirer of his music since 1966.
Sure, I've been through the drunken period of the 70's and the 'dark days'
of the early 80's with his ponderous UK band, but I can honestly say that he
is still playing with fire and passion and irrespective of there being 3
guitarists, he let it be known through his playing that he is STILL the
By now you all know the set-list and from song 1 he and the band played with
the passion and energy that was evident in 2004 after a couple of so-so
years of touring.
He was generous to both Derek and Doyle when he let them loose but ALWAYS
finished the song with a great solo. I even enjoyed the songs from the new
album with a very honorable mention to 'Lost and Found'.
He started with 'Pretending', to my mind his best opening track, ever. And
we then all knew it was going to be a great show.
'Got to get better', 'Anyday' and 'I am Yours' were all played with respect
to the original and moved me with the playing. 'Sheriff'(as always) was an
excellent vehicle for a fantastic solo. 'Little Queen of Spades' was the
replacemnt slow blues for 'Stormy' or 'Have you Ever...' and did not
dissapoint. 'Running on Faith' (although played whilst he was sitting down)
was a real builder. 'After Midnight' was reminiscent of the original version
from his first solo album (horns et al), whilst 'Everybody must Change' and
'Motherless Children' were great opportunities for a slide fest (again, when
it came to the crunch, Eric let everybody know who the boss was). 'Wonderful
Tonight' was mercifully short but not unpleasant and 'Cocaine' was a real
rocker-excellent solos all round. 'Layla' was, as anticipated, a time for
Derek to skillfully craft a slide frenzy on the Coda. 'Crossroads' was no
longer a reggaefied excuse for a blues standard but really, really bounced
along the way it should have. Robert Johnson would not be spinning like a
top in his grave tonight.
And the band? well, to be truthfull, I think Tim on 2nd keys was superflous
and if it really came down to it, so was Doyle-Derek slotted in real fine.
But if Derek does not tour on the US leg, then he's a good man to have
along. He seems to have calmed down after his first EC tour and plays at a
sensible volume now.The rhythm section was excellent with Steve and Willie
changing the whole feel-to the better. The girls on vocals performed
admirably and to you fashion fiends out there, they dressed sensibly as
well! The Kickhorns did their thing well and went off stage when not
needed-which was quite often and finally Chris was superb and got standing
ovations from the enthusiastic French audience (why does EC always play well
in France?).
Do not miss this tour because you think you've heard it all before-you
haven't. I hear they also rehearsed 'Why does Love...' and a few others so
who knows what changes will come. And with Robert Cray being the support,
there's going to be some oppotunities for a bit of jamming at the end.
Marks out of 10? Well, don't laugh, but to be honest, I'd give it a 10. He's
made drastic changes with the set list and even the old standards have been
revamped. He seemed to be having fun and finally, as my yardstick-I enjoyed
it. And trust me, if he ever plays substandard, I am vociferous in my
You'll enjoy this tour, trust me.

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