Eric Clapton shocked fans on Saturday night (April 13th) with his first full band electric version of “Layla” in years. Clapton, who kicked off a five-night run at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Arena, performed the 1970 classic written about his long-unrequited love for George Harrison's then-wife Pattie Boyd, who eventually married Clapton in 1979. Since its 1991 Grammy Award-winning slow blues reworking as featured on Unplugged, “Layla” has usually been performed in its revamped acoustic version in concert.
The fan site WheresEric.com reported that highlights in the 16-song Tokyo set featured John Mayer hopping onstage for the evening's encore of “Cocaine” — and a 30th anniversary tip of the hat to Clapton's 1989 classic album Journeyman with the set's opening number “Pretending” and two more tunes from the collection — “Running On Faith” and the Bo Diddley cover “Before You Accuse Me” making their way back into “Slowhand's” setlist. Also of note was the rarity “Wanna Make Love To You,” an outtake from 1986's August which was eventually released on the 1988 Crossroads box set. Clapton last performed the track live back in 1989.
Although history has painted Eric Clapton's affair with George Harrison's wife as an unscrupulous act done behind Harrison's back — in the 2011 Living In The Material World documentary, Clapton maintained that nothing could be further from the truth: “I went to George right away and said, 'Look, I think this is going to happen. I have to know what you feel about that.' It was almost, like, 'If you want me to stop, I'll go away — I will.' And he was kind of cavalier; he said, 'Well, take her — she's yours'-kind of thing — in fact, 'Can I have. . . we'll swap,' y'know? And to be honest, it had almost, kind of gotten to that before anyway. There was a lot of swapping going on — a lot of fooling around. And this is '60s 'free love' stuff. And George's attitude seemed to have more wisdom in it than anyone else's in that, this is all material — it's all irrelevant to the bigger picture.”