Kicking Off His Tour, Eric Clapton Breaks Out Surprises, Plays Hits at Royal Albert Hall Concert

Kicking off his 2022 tour, Eric Clapton had a series of surprises for fans at his recent Royal Albert Hall show.

Videos by American Songwriter

Clapton started his tour at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Saturday night (May 7) with not one but two shows at the famed venue, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

During the show, Clapton debuted a song from Procol Harum founder Gary Brooker, he welcomed in opener Andy Fairweather Low, and played a number of popular tunes, from hits to rarities.

Joined by his band, which is comprised of guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, drummer Sonny Emory, bassist Nathan East, keyboardists Chris Stainton and Paul Carrack as well as vocalists Sharon White and Katie Kissoon, Clapton began the show with a live debut of Brooker’s “Lead Me To The Water.”

Brooker sadly died on February 19 of this year. He and Clapton were friends and collaborators.

Clapton also performed the title track to his 1998 album, Pilgrim, for the first time since 1999. He also played the song “River Of Tears,” which was the first time he played that one since 2003. The full-band set concluded with a cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sherrif” and Cream’s “White Room.”

Clapton commenced the acoustic section of the show with guitarist Fairweather Low, who’d previously worked with Clapton on his albums Unplugged, From The Cradle, Riding With The King, Pilgrim, and more.

Clapton opened the acoustic section with the live debut of his 2021 single, “Heart Of A Child,” which many criticized in the past for its apparent flouting of vaccine and mask mandates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. In the acoustic part of the show, Clapton also played “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down And Out” and “Smile.” He later played an acoustic version of his hit, “Layla.” He closed the set with “Tears In Heaven.”

Clapton’s second full-band performance (on May 8) featured the Cream song “Badge” and Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.” He also included two Robert Johnson songs “Crossroads” and “Little Queen of Spades,” before closing with an electric version of “Layla.” He came out for an encore with Joe Cocker’s “High Time We Went.”

Previously, Clapton made headlines for saying he wouldn’t play live shows at venues that required masks or vaccines, though he later relented.

Check out videos from the shows below.

Photo Credit: Gareth Cattermole

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