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Eric Clapton Kicks Off Final Tour At MSG With Gary Clark Jr. & Jimmie Vaughan [Videos]

Eric Clapton will play 11 shows in 2017, including two nights at Madison Square Garden in NYC and two nights at The Forum in Los Angeles this month, and again in September due to popular demand. He will also play three shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall in May. Last night opened the book to what is perhaps Clapton’s final chapter in live concerts, as he’s expressed in the past. The tour’s live band includes keyboardists Walt Richmond and Chris Stainton, drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Nathan East and vocalists Sharon White and Michelle John, with Gary Clark Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan as special guests.

When announced, these shows were somewhat of a surprise after Slowhand had expressed his retirement in the program for his run of blow-out 70th birthday shows, with Derek Trucks, John Mayer, and more in 2015. “I swear this is it, no more,” he wrote. “I know I’ve been threatening retirement for the last 50 years, but I didn’t think I’d ever really want to stop. I love what I do and always have done, but over the last few decades I’ve found what I was always really looking for, a loving family who love me just the way I am, which means I can relax and rest when I need to, and more and more I treasure the beauty of that.”

With all this, Clapton stepped forward and delivered one of his final rock concerts last night at Madison Square Garden. Fans in New York were lucky to see the 71-year-old legend perform a special mix of originals and covers, from “Badge” by Cream, to “I Shot the Sheriff” by The Wailers to songs by Robert Johnson and J.J. Cale, switching between electric and acoustic guitars throughout the night. Iconic originals like “Tears in Heaven,” “Layla,” “Wonderful Tonight,” and “Sunshine of Your Love” all found there way to the spotlight, as Clapton delivered a career-spanning setlist on the first night of his final tour.

The show goes on tonight, then heads to the West Coast on March 25 & 26. Clapton will return to NYC on September 7 & 8. For more information on upcoming shows, head to Clapton’s website.

Thanks to YouTube user SGibson818, you can watch the entire concert below:

Key To The Highway, Charles Segar

Badge, Cream

I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man, Willie Dixon

I Shot The Sheriff, The Wailers

Driftin’ Blues, Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers

Nobody Knows When You’re Down & Out, Jimmy Cox

Tears In Heaven

Layla, Derek & The Dominoes

Somebody’s Knocking, J.J. Cale

Wonderful Tonight

Crossroads, Robert Johnson

Little Queen of Spades, Robert Johnson

Cocaine, J. J. Cale

Sunshine Of Your Love, Cream

Before You Accuse Me feat. Gary Clark Jr. & Jimmy Vaughn, Bo Diddley

[cover photo via @eric_clapton_italia]