Jan. 23, 2018: Eric Clapton Performs ‘The Core’ For First Time in 40 Years

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

On January 23, 2018, Eric Clapton did something he hadn’t done since 1978. That night, Slowhand played the Théâtre Mogador in Paris, one of two surprise performances that he gave that month. The private event came just two weeks after he was a surprise performer at former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones’s annual benefit concert on Jan. 8 in Surrey, England.

For the Paris show, Clapton played with just five musicians: regulars Doyle Bramhall II, Paul Carrack, Nathan East, and Chris Stainton plus drummer Sonny Emery.

However, the biggest news of the Paris set was the inclusion of “The Core,” the exceptional song with two extended instrumental sections of Clapton’s guitar with saxophonist Mel Collins, that is a highlight of his 1977 Slowhand album. While the LP includes the 1-2-3 punch of “Cocaine,” “Wonderful Tonight” and “Lay Down Sally” on Side One of its original vinyl release, the collection’s gem, for many, is Side Two, Track One: the 8-minute, 42-second “The Core” that Clapton sings with the song’s co-writer, Marcy Levy. (At the Paris concert, Bramhall shared lead vocals.)

Watch 29 seconds of “The Core,” on Jan. 23, 1978. Sadly, it’s all we’ve got…

Concert privé hier soir avec Eric Clapton et Carmignac.

Posted by Jean-Pierre Soublin on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

According to the ever-reliable fan site, Where’s Eric, Clapton hadn’t performed “The Core” onstage since 1978. As in four decades ago.

Related: Our Album Rewind of 1977’s Slowhand

The evening’s 16-song set spanned plenty of other classic rock songs that Clapton has written or been associated with. The concert was organized by billionaire Edouard Carmignac, a 70-year-old French investment banker.

Watch Clapton perform “Layla” while seated, as he has done for a while

There was a burst of other Clapton news at around that same time. A documentary, Life in 12 Bars, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017, made its U.S. television bow on Feb. 10 on Showtime. In an interview with BBC Radio 2 prior to the film’s London debut earlier in January, Clapton acknowledged that he’s going deaf and suffering from tinnitus, an all-too-common malady which causes a ringing in the ears.

Watch EC perform “I Shot the Sheriff” at this concert

[Clapton turns 76 on March 30, 2021.]

Related: Our review of Clapton at NYC’s Madison Square Garden, March 19, 2017

Watch the main set’s closer, “Cocaine”

Eric Clapton, January 23, 2018, Théâtre Mogador, Paris 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
Layla
Tears in Heaven
Got to Get Better in a Little While
Wonderful Tonight
The Core
Little Queen of Spades
Cocaine

Encore
Cross Road Blues
High Time We Went

Clapton has moved his 2020 tour to 2021. Tickets are available here and here.

Related: 4 months later, Clapton performed “The Core” again

Listen to the album version of “The Core”

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