September 21, 2006

Eric Clapton

Last night I saw Eric Clapton perform at the United Center. Here are a couple initial thoughts:1. The United Center is a terrible venue. The sound quality was fine, but the combination of the layout of the audience and the average age of the audience itself led to a crowd that lacked the energy I was hoping for.2. Eric Clapton is, without a doubt, the best living guitarist. 3. Unfortunately, Clapton didn't really let loose as the guitar hero role he defined with Cream (Hendrix used Cream as his model for the Jimi Hendrix Experience). Regardless, the glimpses of mastery that showed through were amazing.4. The standout for me, and I am biased here, was Derek Trucks, who played slide guitar. Trucks was featured very prominently on all but two or three tracks and he really showcased his skills on Little Queen of Spades (a Robert Johnson track) with a blistering solo. The crowd loved that one--and so did I.5. I also loved the brief moments where Clapton and Trucks would trade riffs. Examples of this stood out in the opener, Pretending, Everybody Oughta Make A Change, and of course, on Layla.6. Some of Clapton's old stalwarts were disappointing, in the sense that they seemed like slightly tweaked versions of the same song from the early 70s, but minus the electricity that powered them. An example of this was Gotta To Get Better In A Little While, which is off the wall amazing in Live At The Fillmore. Clapton seemed to try and do a cheap replication of that. It didn't work.7. However, some of Clapton's older songs really rocked. Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out was fantastic, with Clapton on acoustic and Trucks on slide. Also, Motherless Children was fantastic. It would have been good to here more reworked versions of Clapton's older songs though.8. I will see Eric Clapton play again.By the way, here is the setlist.