Eric Clapton at the United Center in Chicago, IL

Eric Clapton arrived at the United Center in Chicago for a two-night engagement for part of his limited-run 2022 tour.

This was a night of the two blues greats under one roof. First up was Jimmie Vaughan and his ample-sized band who filled the stage of the United Center. They kicked the night off with some classic Texas blues and gave the crowd everything you could want or expect from an icon of the blues scene. Jimmie has done this for a long time now and he knows how to entertain an audience. From the moment he stepped on stage, he and the Tilt-A-Whirl Band brought a feel-good atmosphere to the arena and had the audience out of their seats clapping, dancing, and singing along. The set, whilst relatively brief, was packed with great songs including “D/FW” and, of course, “Texas Flood.” 

When you hear that a legend such as Eric Clapton is coming to town, you have to jump on those tickets. It’s been 12 years since he was last in Chicago and several years since he mentioned the possibility of retiring from touring. Fast-forward to 2022, and this is a tour we can categorically say we did not think would be happening, but boy are we glad it is. You just never know if or when he’ll be back in town and this is one you do not want to miss. The term “legend” is banded around way too much these days, but in this case, is definitely warranted and earned. 

For 105 minutes, Clapton showed that at 77 years old, he still has it. He does not need all the bells and whistles of elaborate stage setups and video screens. Instead, the stage was filled with seven additional extremely talented musicians accompanying Clapton. They consisted of Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Paul Carrack (organ/keyboard), Chris Stainton (keyboard), Sonny Emory (drums), Nathan East (bass), and Sharon White and Katie Kissoon (backing vocals). To be asked to be part of Eric Clapton’s all-star band, you need to be a certain caliber of musician and everyone on the stage with Eric lived up to that standard. Of particular note, long-time collaborator Doyle Bramhall II, who in an Eric Clapton show, stepped up to take the first two guitar solos of the night. 

Throughout the set, Clapton gave several nods to the bluesmen who influenced him so heavily by including performances of Willie Dixon’s “I’m Your Hooch Coochie Man” and Robert Johnson’s “Ramblin’ On My Mind” and “Cross Road Blues.” He even delved all the way back to the roaring twenties with Jimmy Cox’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” 

The night was split into electric and acoustic sets as it meandered through an impression 16-song mixture of covers and originals. The acoustic section saw people on their feet for the iconic “Layla,” before slowing everything down for the highly emotive “Tears in Heaven.” This show saw the band skip “Wonderful Tonight” as performed at the previous US shows, but garnered huge cheers for Cream’s “Badge,” “Layla,” and “Cocaine.”

This is a show you do not, we stress, DO NOT, want to miss! You do not need to be a lover of blues to appreciate Eric Clapton and his band performing live. 

ERIC CLAPTON
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UNITED CENTER
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About Kirstine Walton 386 Articles
Kirstine moved from the UK to Chicago in 2011, and has fallen in love with the city and its music scene. She enjoys combining her two biggest passions – music and photography. If there is a band with a guitar playing, chances are she’ll be there…camera in hand. Kirstine went to her first live concert at 7 years old, and hasn’t looked back since!