When Eric Clapton Headlined the Greenwich Town Party

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Clapton (and friends) performing at the Greenwich Town Party, May 26, 2018

Though he wasn’t touring in 2018, Eric Clapton hadn’t eliminated live performances. In fact, while they didn’t appear on his concert schedule, he gave two concerts that January, one at a benefit in Surrey, U.K. and another at a private event in Paris. It took another four months, but Clapton returned to the stage on May 26.

The occasion was the Greenwich (Conn.) Town Party, for which Slowhand was the headliner. Tickets for the annual event, at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, are available only to residents or those employed there. The day-long event also featured the Tedeschi Trucks Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band..

The city is just 37 miles from New York City, a relatively easy commute for many. Since 2011, artists that have performed at the event have included Steely Dan (Walter Becker’s final live performance), John Fogerty, the Doobie Brothers, Santana, James Taylor, Paul Simon and Buddy Guy.

The Memorial Day weekend event is described as “an annual celebration for the people of Greenwich to come together and participate in a day of music, food, fun, family, and friendship to experience the strength of community.”

On this Saturday night, Clapton’s 15-song set featured songs from his years with Cream, Derek & the Dominos and his vast solo career. Joining him onstage were keyboardists Chris Stainton and Walt Richmond, bassist Nathan East, guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, drummer Sonny Emory, and vocalists Sharon White and Sharlotte Gibson.

As with his 2018 concert at Paris’ Théâtre Mogador, a highlight for many was the inclusion of “The Core” on the setlist. The exceptional song with two extended instrumental sections of Clapton’s guitar with saxophonist Mel Collins, is a highlight of his 1977 Slowhand album. Until that Jan. 23 Paris show, Clapton hadn’t played it live since 1978.

Watch Slowhand perform the first – and only – #1 U.S. single of his storied career

For years, Clapton has preferred to perform “Layla” acoustically, and that’s how he played it on this night.

Watch his take of the Dominos’ “Got to Get Better in a Little While”

You want “The Core”? You got it!

Watch him perform “Cocaine,” the final number before the encore

For the evening’s finale, Clapton was joined by Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks on “Cross Road Blues.”

Eric Clapton, Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, Greenwich, CT, May 26, 2018 Setlist

Somebody’s Knocking
Key to the Highway
I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man
I Shot the Sheriff
White Room
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
Lay Down Sally
Tears in Heaven
Got to Get Better in a Little While
Wonderful Tonight
The Core
Little Queen of Spades

Cross Road Blues

Clapton has 2024 dates. Tickets are available here and here. On June 23, 2023, his record-setting concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1990 and 1991 were released in a variety of expanded editions, The Definitive 24 Nights.

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

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  1. Chris
    #1 Chris 27 May, 2020, 02:06

    The Core! Great song. I did see him play it in 1978 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia!

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  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 27 May, 2021, 11:16

    I guess it would be a lot to ask a legend to eschew playing lame songs like “Lay Down Sally” for more classic songs that spotlight his playing and singing, when he saw fit to record it in the first place, much less had a hit with it.

    Clapton early greatness as a true original on guitar vs. what his career turned out to be is vexing to many, like myself, who were weaned off of the amazingly articulate guitar voicings of his early years. I always enjoyed his vocals — even, and especially, when counterpointing the incredible vocals of Jack Bruce — Clapton certainly held his own, and contributed to a unique vocal sound that I adore to this day.

    I guess it kind of says it all when he closes a set of career spanning songs with “Cocaine.” While Clapton continually gets universal kudos for a lifelong career of records and live performances, I still bitterly mourn what could have, and should have, been.

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