Customer Reviews: Live from Madison Square Garden
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Two discs 65 and 63 minutes each approximately. The sound is immediate yet warm,especially the vocals. The booklet has photographs of the band and song titles and that's it. The booklet omits the song "Low Down" on the track listings,but the listening order is as the jewel case lists them.

If anyone thinks that this is yet another release by yet more musicians trading on their past glories-think again. This is music that everyone has been waiting for for ages. It's powerful,good-time music that will please anyone who likes Clapton and/or Winwood. Its safe to assume that listeners are familiar with both Winwood and Clapton at this point. Winwood,from his teenage years,first came to prominence in the SPENCER DAVIS GROUP,then went on to form TRAFFIC,then BLIND FAITH (with Clapton),and then made several solo albums. Clapton,likewise,gained acclaim in the YARDBIRDS,then his stints with John Mayall's BLUESBREAKERS,CREAM,the previously mentioned BLIND FAITH,DEREK AND THE DOMINOS,and then he recorded many solo albums under his own name.

Why these two musicians waited this long to record together again is anyone's guess. Neither one needs the money,so there must be a better reason. Perhaps it's friendship over all these decades-coming up together in England's music scene,they surely must have formed some kind of bond. No matter,this music is a reaffirmation of much of their respective careers.

The band consists of Winwood,Clapton,Willie Weeks-bass,Chris Stainton-keyboards,and Ian Thomas-drums. There is also a horn section (uncredited) that help("Them Changes"),yet never get in the way. The compositions range from tried and true blues numbers ("Sleeping In the Ground","Double Trouble"),Robert Johnson ("Rambling On My Mind"),to J.J.Cale ("Cocaine","After Midnight"),to Hoagy Carmichael ("Georgia On My Mind"),to Hendrix ("Little Wing","Voodoo Chile"), to a number of tracks from Winwood's days with TRAFFIC,and a few Clapton tunes ("Presence of the Lord" and others he made famous)-together they weave a fiery concert setting that will make you wish that you were there.

Clapton's guitar is front and center on most tracks,and he plays like someone who has been given a second chance. Likewise,his vocals are very forceful and emotional. Of interest is the Robert Johnson tune,"Rambling On My Mind",where Clapton sings this solo,accompanied by his electro-acoustic guitar-a nice change of pace. Of course many tracks are used as jumping off points for jamming-something this band can do effortlessly,but here the entire group sound very together,playing as if this may be their last chance. Winwood's keyboards have that familiar bouncing sound to them,that in contrast with Clapton's guitar,is a real treat. His guitar playing is still fiery and alive. Together they weave in and out of each other,and I defy anyone to keep their body still when the fireworks get started. Its nice to hear these old chestnuts from the past reinvigorated by these masters (including the entire band) who take these songs and put some real life into them. From a pop sound (or as close as they ever came) to slow blues,this is the real deal. Clapton's vocals really shine on "Double Trouble",an old Otis Rush blues that shows his reverence for Rush. His vocals have that lived-in sound that elevates this tune to something else entirely. His guitar cries yet soars through this track,letting every doubter know that he can still feel and play the blues. Winwood's vocals are similarly aching and have that lived-in sound,which he proves over and over again on this set. If anything,his voice has deepened a bit,which gives his vocals an extra punch. It's interesting that Winwood started out imitating Ray Charles,and here he still retains a lot of Charles' sound and vocal inflections. Listeners will have their own favorites here,with a song selection that's designed for just that effect.

Anyone who likes Clapton from his DEREK AND THE DOMINOS days will find much to like here. These tracks have that old magic from days gone by. Its great to hear that these two masters still have that certain something that enables them to reach out and move listeners like they do here. This will be something that will be played over and over again by listeners,and every time something new will be heard.
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on May 20, 2009
This is a difficult CD to critique. On one hand, Eric's playing and Steve's singing are at levels now at ages 64 and 61 respectively, where they have matured like fine wines. Although always of strong voice, Winwood sings with a sophistication and an interpretive sensibility now that he's never had before. The richness in his voice is magnificent. And Clapton..... I can't believe the energy and the shear power in his vocals and in his playing. Some of his solos on this set are more prolific than in his Dominoes days over 35 Years ago. However, there are a couple of down sides to this CD. One, Clapton tends to overplay and go for the easy speed riff too many times in this set instead of really covering new ground as a still vital artist. Too many times Winwood is left to continously comp changes for Clapton's, in some cases, endless doodling. However, when Clapton is spot on like he is with readings of Hendrix classics Voodoo Chile and Little Wing, he is truly as good as he's ever been. Winwood is too often set in the background although his vocals are strong and his playing masterful. There are some additional treats, such as them playing the majority of the Blind Faith release together for the first time since 1970! All in all this is a fine effort that will make long-time fans smile at the resilience and passion of both of these artists, but a little more imaginative set list and a more equal staging of both of these icon's considerable talents would have been more appreciated. Still, give it four stars for the truly amazing performances on more than a few of these numbers and the power that both of these greats bring to the stage after more than 40 years in Rock.
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on May 22, 2009
Most reviews here mention VOODOO CHILE as a highlight of the show and a Hendrix tune. The real significance of this piece is that Winwood played the Hammond B3 on the original studio cut on Hendrix's Electric Ladyland.

Another event worth mentioning is that Buddy Miles who wrote Them Changes and was the drummer for Hendrix's Band of Gypsys died on the night of their second show 2/26. Miles got to hear them perform CHANGES over a cell phone during the first show 2/25. The final shows performance on 2/28 of CHANGES was dedicated to Miles.
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on December 5, 2009
This show could have been a really schmaltzy affair done as a money grab by two legends who have been mostly coasting for decades. But there are some inspired moments here - even on some of thier '80s hits: Winwood's "Split Decision" (which I think originally featured Joe Walsh on guitar) and Clapton's "Forever Man" (sung as a duet) are both pretty great.

But the best moments, unsurprisingly, are when they revisit Blind Faith - you can't really call it a "catalog," as they only had one album. Opening with the track that kicked off their self-titled album from 1969, "Had To Cry Today," you can hear the "unfinished business" that Clapton mentioned when they originally announced the duo shows. "Presence Of The Lord," also sung as a duet (on the album, Winwood did all the vocals, with Clapton sticking to guitar) is pretty moving, considering all the things Clapon has been through over the decades. But Sam Myers' "Sleeping In The Ground," Buddy Holly's "Well All Right" and of course their greatest song, "Can't Find My Way Back Home"... there's not a bad moment there.

Read the rest of my review at my not-for-profit, just-for-the-love music blog, No Expiration. [...]
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on April 23, 2013
I enjoyed this recording, given that it was essentially a Blind Faith reunion. Both of these artists reside in my personal pantheon of heroes, and I own everything they ever put out. All that being said, I wll also say that while I like it, I'm not sure that any of the versions on this record surpass or equal their previously issued studio versions. A gotta have record for the hard core fan, not sure about how essential it is for anyone else...
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on May 4, 2012
I received the DVD version of this concert a few days ago. I'm still listening to it while I write this. For Clapton/Winwood fans, the concert on DVD is a 5-star epic, and I'm glad I got it first, as it has several advantages over the MP3 album. For that reason, I only gave the MP3 album 4 stars. In fact, I bought the MP3 version today just so I could burn it to CD and listen to it on the road. However, I have already discovered that it omits or interrupts some nice moments that are included on the DVD, especially the drum click introduction to "Split Decision" (which, by the way, is one of my favorite tracks on this project). Also, comments between the songs on DVD give one a perspective for the history shared by EC and SW, and the reasons they chose the individual songs for this concert.

As other reviewers have indicated, the DVD shows SW switching between guitar, organ and piano, and illustrates the interaction and camaraderie between the two stars. I knew that SW could play several instruments, but if I had purchased the MP3 version first, perhaps I would not have realized that he is probably no less capable on guitar than on keyboard. His keyboard artistry is especially evident on organ [incidentally, in my opinion, Billy Preston was the ultimate rock/blues organist], while his guitar lead on "Dear Mr. Fantasy" gave me the feeling that EC had some competition on stage. The DVD also showcases the supporting cast of musicians, who complement the headliners quite well. For example, when SW goes to the organ, the keyboard player gets to show his prowess on synth - a Yamaha DX-7 II, which I recognized immediately because I have one and still play it from time to time - and when SW plays piano or guitar, the keyboard player gives solid organ backing. The drummer is awesome, and the bass player knows what he's doing or he wouldn't be on the stage with EC and SW.

As an added bonus, this concert, although in a sense nostalgic for me, introduced me to some of the repertoire of both musicians with which I was unfamiliar.

Bottom line: if you have to have this concert, get the DVD first, then decide if you want both.
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on March 20, 2016
Fabulous is an understatement. If you have ever liked Eric Clapton or Steve Winwood, this is an essential recording to add to your collection. The song selection is terrific and both of these gentlemen are still rock and roll powerhouses in their 60's. The appreciative live MSG audience is a warm, rousing backdrop for one classic song after another. I play this CD or at least a few favorite tracks nearly every day. It is wonderful, foot tapping music to lift your soul.
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As I've mentioned a other reviews of EC albums his music was an important part of my youth and formative years. The same is true of Steve Winwood from the epic Blind Faith through the traffic years and his solo career. I have a predisposition to love their music.

This reunion was very long in the making. Clapton's guitar shows experience and polish, but also the ravages of time have taken some toll. There are some riffs that don't come off in this show that I think would have in years past.

Steve Winwood's voice was often at the limits of its range in the days of blind faith and his willingness to take his voice to the edge was part of his appeal to me. With my life barely feeling in control Steve's voice singing "sea of joy" helped me feel a bit more ok at feeling at the edge of control myself.

So when Steve's voice goes a bit over the edge or they don't quite seem to make as clean a riff or transition I they might have in their (any my) younger years I'm very willing to forgive and take joy in the reunion of two old friends.

I think the important thing is not to expect the same dynamic they had years ago. It's something different now... less of a hot sizzle and more a slow cooked flavor-delight that can only be borne out of time. It's just not the same after all these years. For me it's better, and a recognition of the time and experience they have both gained.

One surprise for me was the buddy miles tune "them changes" as I had not been aware of their connection.

After getting the CD I also got Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood: Live From Madison Square Garden DVD which is great too.

Well done Stevie and Eric. Well done.

I hope this is helpful.
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on July 17, 2009
I have the CD and DVD. The reason this recording and band works so well, on so many levels, is primarily because the drummer, bass player, and keyboard player play only what is needed and stay out of Clapton's and Winwood's way. They play crisp and clear and accurately, which makes all the difference. What a team of players on this recording-it just doesn't get any better than this. And the song selection is so strong. Clapton is at his best without any dopey backup guitarist(s)-save for George Terry or Winwood, of course. No dopey dancing backup singers, no horn players, just the essentials here. The band also tries to stay close to the original songs and I especially love the Blind Faith stuff like "Well Alright". "Can't Find My Way Home" sounds like a national anthem with the crowd chanting the words with Winwood in the background. Good stuff, and just incredible that the Blind Faith catalog sounds so cool this many years later. "Sea Of Joy" would have been interesting to include. It would have been nice if Ginger Baker had the ability to join in this endeavor but even he hasn't been able to play the way he used to, for a very long time now. But we love you, Ginger! Even the recent Cream reunion doesn't stack up to this-they waited too long to get together. Can you imagine what Cream would have been like in the 60's and 70's if Winwood had joined them and the group stayed together? That would have been a Supergroup, my friends. Winwood still has the outstanding vocals and musical prowness to excite and his vocals with Clapton work perfectly. Clapton is always outstanding. Clapton, on a bad day, is still better than everyone else on their best day (I like Dickey Betts too, when he played with the Allmans). I like the blues stuff the best; not really into the acoustic, or "Georgia" or Hendrix things. "Double Trouble" and "Sleeping In The Ground" and "Tell The Truth" give me the chills and are worth the price of admission alone. I know Layla has been played to death in previous concerts, but with this particular band-now that would have been an interesting song to include. How about "Same Old Blues" instead of boring disco "Forever Man"? And if only we could get Eric to use a Gibson guitar with a Marshall amp once in a we need to take up a collection, Eric? Anyway, many thanks to Eric and Stevie for putting this together and reviving so much of the best old stuff! A treasure! Hope to see them do more in the future.
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on March 30, 2014
This one really blew me away, in execution, sound quality, production, everything about it is perfection. I am new to Clapton and have only recently heard Derek and the Dominos Live at the Filmore, 24 Nights, Just One Night, and EC Was Here. Right now I think I would put this neck and neck with the Domino's Filmore show. It is truly that incredible. I have not picked up Crossroads 2 Live in the 70's but i'll be getting it soon. I can't say enough great things about this show. It was so good that I immediately bought another copy for my dad's birthday. Excellent!!
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