Eric Clapton Returns to MSG For Rare Concert

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Clapton performing “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” at MSG, September 7, 2017

Eric Clapton returned to the States on Sept. 7 for the first of six shows he’s doing this month in New York and Los Angeles. Slowhand is playing two shows at a venue he’s provided countless memories–Madison Square Garden–plus four dates beginning next week at The Forum. (He was originally scheduled to do just two in LA, but he was forced to postpone two dates last March due to illness.)

A Clapton concert has become an increasingly rare occurrence.

Clapton told Rolling Stone in 2013, “When I’m 70, I’ll stop. I won’t stop playing or doing one-offs, but I’ll stop touring, I think.”

In 2016, he did just five shows, all at Tokyo’s Budokan. In 2017, he’s doing a total of four Garden dates, the four in Los Angeles, and three last May at his home away from home—London’s Royal Albert Hall.

For Thursday night’s kickoff at MSG, Clapton again called on guitarists Gary Clark Jr. (see below) and Jimmie Vaughan as “special guests.” As with the two concerts at the Garden last March, their 30-minute sets allowed the headliner to offer a tight, 16-song performance filled, not surprisingly, with familiar covers from blues greats Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, Charles Segar, and more.

Related: Our review of Clapton from March 19, 2017

In its review, the New York Daily News called Clapton’s performance on Sept. 7 “lackluster,” describing it as “less masterful and more obligatory. He certainly wasn’t assisted by a sedate, cranky crowd.”

He’s 72 now and, as he did last March, is wearing a brace on his right knee. But he still sounds great to us. You be the judge.

Watch the evening’s second number

Here’s a Slowhand favorite

Watch the acoustic version of “Layla”

Here’s “Cross Road Blues”

Watch the band stretch out

Eric Clapton, Madison Square Garden, September 7, 2017 Setlist

Somebody’s Knocking
Key to the Highway
I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man
I Shot the Sheriff
Driftin’ Blues
Lay Down Sally
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
Layla
Tears in Heaven
White Room
Wonderful Tonight
Cross Road Blues
Little Queen of Spades
Cocaine

Encore:
Sunshine of Your Love
Before You Accuse Me

In his set, Clark performed his cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together,” which he’s just recorded for the upcoming film Justice League

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