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How Eric Clapton’s set list changed between 1989 and 1992

In my recent unearthing of memorabilia I found several old concert tickets. One was from the first rock concert I ever went to – Eric Clapton and His Band at the Albert Hall on 28th January 1989. The band in question had Mark Knopfler on guitar, and (as I recall) Greg Phillinganes on keyboards, Nathan East on bass, Steve Ferrone on drums, Katie Kissoon and Tessa Niles on backing vocals, and possibly Ray Cooper on percussion. Carole King was the special guest and came out to do a couple of duets. The support was Buckwheat Zydeco who had just released an album with a version of Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? on it, on which EC had guested, but their guitarist that night was a fairly unexciting bloke (sorry).

Eric Clapton gig ticket from 1989

Anyway, stapled to the concert ticket was a scribbled set-list with a few notes. With the power of the internet I could no doubt easily find the exact set list from that particular gig, but I quite like the idea of having my own personal scrawled one, so as an item of interest, here it is:

Crossroads (started off as EC solo, then the band came on to add instrumentation)

White Room (Knopfler adding interesting fills)

I Shot the Sheriff (started with a slow non-reggae arrangement of the chorus)

Bell Bottom Blues (arrangement straight out of “Layla”)

Lay Down Sally (Knopfler doing some jazzy licks)

After Midnight – with Carole King

Can’t Find My Way Home – with Carole King (Knopfler playing copious fill-ins on nylon-string guitar)

Wonderful Tonight (slow intro, false ending)

Forever Man (EC forgets to stop smoking in time so has to play the whole solo with fag in mouth)

Tearing Us Apart (Katie Kissoon duet) – EC plays “laid-back” solo [whatever that means]

Wanna Make Love To You

Cocaine (“slow”)

Same Old Blues (soft & jazzy with fantastic Nathan East bass solo, doubling the notes on vocals, George Benson-style)

Layla (long, moody intro)


Behind The Mask

Sunshine of Your Love – arrangement noted as “chorus, (instr.), rest [rest of band?!], solos, finish”

As a first gig it was feasibly not the most “alternative” in the world but I loved it, especially as a young guitarist. EC is still my main guitar influence and, if you like, all-time “guitar hero”. Some things never leave you no matter what else you do or listen to.

A few years later, on 18th February 1992 to be precise, I went to see him again, also at the Albert Hall. I don’t remember all of the band members this time although it was just before Unplugged, and I’m pretty sure it would’ve been the same band from that album. When EC introduced a short sit-down acoustic set, he clearly wasn’t able to use the word “Unplugged” possibly for contractual reasons (or just to maintain the element of surprise) and instead said “We recently did a concert of unamplified songs… well, not unamplified, but unelectrified.”

Eric Clapton gig ticket from 1992

For this gig I was up in the choir seats behind the band, which was a bit strange, but it was an interesting perspective as it made you feel like you were almost on the stage. Here’s my set list from that night:

White Room


Anything For Your Love

I Shot the Sheriff

Running on Faith

She’s Waiting

Sit-down acoustic mini-set:

The Circus Has Left Town

Tears in Heaven

A then unnamed piece I wrote down as “TV sitcom instrumental” which later turned up on “Unplugged” as Signe

(Electrified again)

“Blues” (possibly Same Old Blues, or just some generic blues thing)

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

Tearing Us Apart

Before You Accuse Me (which broke out into about two dozen solos paying homage to loads of old riffs such as Duane Eddy’s Peter Gunn)

Old Love


Wonderful Tonight




Sunshine of Your Love, featuring Ray Cooper Percussion Extravaganza™.

Of the two gigs, the first one was slightly more special because it was the first, but the second was probably more interesting musically. Then again, Mark Knopfler’s contribution to the first really made that show; if he’d not been there it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as interesting. (Yes, I know that might be the first time that the words “Mark Knopfler” and “interesting” have been seen on the same web page together, but believe me that guy is good when, er, he doesn’t sing or play his own songs…)

Finally, the other interesting thing (at least to me) about these tickets is how cheap they were. Even allowing for inflation and the fact that I didn’t have great seats, these were still the days when you could go to a gig by a major artist and have change from £20. Unheard-of now, the money-grabbing bastards.