When Eric Clapton Surprised With Electric ‘Layla’ at Tokyo’s Budokan

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Eric Clapton performed his first concert of 2019 on Saturday night, April 13, with the first of five shows at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan. Of note was the return of an electric version of “Layla” which, for years, Clapton has performed acoustically, mid-set, while seated.

As of that date, Slowhand had played the legendary venue a reported 96 times in his career. On opening night, he performed a 16-song set that featured many blues covers (“I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Before You Accuse Me”) that he’s recorded and performed during his career.

Clapton included many classic rock songs like “Wonderful Tonight” and “Badge” that have been part of his DNA for decades. Missing, however, were such staples as “White Room” and “Lay Down Sally,” as well as “The Core,” from 1977’s Slowhand album, which he revived for the first time in decades for several 2018 performances.

Clapton, with Bramhall and East, at Tokyo’s Budokan, April 13, 2019

For the Budokan encore, “Cocaine,” he was joined onstage by John Mayer. (Watch it below.)

The Tokyo, London, and European dates featured Clapton’s regular seven-piece band: Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Paul Carrack (keyboards), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Nathan East (bass), Sonny Emory (drums), and vocalists Sharon White and Katie Kissoon.

[In 2018, he had just five ticketed events, including his July 8 headlining performance in London’s Hyde Park as part of the British Summer Time series. Though he announced several years ago that his touring days are over, he surprised his fans with news of a tour for 2020 that was ultimately moved to 2022, due to the pandemic. More shows are scheduled for 2024; tickets are available here and here.]

Watch electric “Layla”

And just for good measure, here’s an alternate view of the same performance, once the camera comes into focus.

Two nights later, it was back to acoustic “Layla.”

Eric Clapton, Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan, April 13, 2019 Setlist

Key to the Highway
(I Wanna) Make Love to You
I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man
I Shot the Sheriff
Driftin’ Blues
Running on Faith
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
Tears in Heaven
Wonderful Tonight
Little Queen of Spades
Before You Accuse Me

Watch Clapton, with John Mayer, perform “Cocaine”


Watch Clapton and his band perform “Badge” and “Wonderful Tonight” at the residency’s second concert on April 15.

Related: Links for 100s of classic rock tours

Clapton’s extensive recording library is available in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. Da Mick
    #1 Da Mick 14 April, 2022, 14:16

    As Clapton is generally lazy, evidenced by his minimal old man sets, asking him to play Layla correctly is a stretch he’s not apt to want to sweat in a performance. Clapton shows are just for ultra fans who just idolize the guy from long ago. Nothing special has been going on on his stages for decades.

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  2. JennyB
    #2 JennyB 16 April, 2022, 18:48

    While I love Clapton since I can remember, I have to agree with you, Da Mick, that the man is phoning this in, at least in this show. I saw him more than several years ago and the show was something to see. I felt transported listening to him play and watching his face, feeling every note. And it was definitely the millionth time he performed the songs we love but he made it seem like the first and made it ours for that night. I still love the man and his talent but would hate to see him lose his heart. That’s what this looked and sounded like to me and it breaks my heart to hear. Find your heart again, Eric, you bring us so much when you do. Keep rocking, everyone! Peace! ✌

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