Concert Reviews

Eric Clapton Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 13, 2014    
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Eric Clapton - MEN Arena, Manchester (UK) - 14th May 2013

Clapton recently hinted that his current tour in celebration of a staggering fifty years in music will be his last international road jaunt. Walking onstage with his band, Clapton strapped on his acoustic guitar for the opening number 'Hello Old Friend' which was followed by 'My Father's Eyes'. It was hardly the most electrifying way to start a concert; Clapton often infuriating fans with his laidback approach. After an all-too-mellow beginning Clapton put on his Strat and played an excellent version of the old Derek And The Dominoes song 'Tell The Truth'. The last, and admittedly only time, I'd seen Clapton live before was at this very venue back in 2006 with support from Robert Cray whom I have to admit was much better. Clapton's problem then was that he left much of the soloing to his guitarist, but thankfully this time around old Slowhand was on fire and seemed far more enthusiastic.

The setlist was a mix of something old, something new and something obscure. Sadly, the set lacked the big singles of his career such as 'Bad Love', 'Pretending' and 'Forever Man' in favour of lesser known songs, but did, obviously, include the lead song, 'Gotta Get Over,' from his new album 'Old Sock'. The slightly-too-long sit-down acoustic segment of the set included his famed unplugged version of 'Layla' as well as 'Tears In Heaven', which was a surprise given that I thought he'd dropped that number for good, and 'Lay Down Sally' (amongst others) but overall I had the feeling that such an intimate and personal set would have been better suited to the likes of the Manchester Bridgewater Hall or the Liverpool Philharmonic rather than the cold, soulless slab of concrete that is the Manchester Arena.

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Clapton's band included the brilliant white English soul singer Paul Carrack who handled lead vocals on a few numbers, including 'It Ain't Easy (To Love Somebody)' and the closing song 'High Time We Went', a Joe Cocker cover. The better known electric songs ('White Room', 'Blues Power', 'Crossroads' and 'Cocaine') naturally got the biggest rounds of applause. Annoyingly, Clapton allowed Bolton buffoon Peter Kay to introduce the encore and even sing/played fake guitar during 'Sunshine Of Your Love' which totally ruined the song. Much of the audience seemed to enjoy it but it just wasn't necessary especially as the gig was supposed to celebrate Clapton's career, of which Kay is not a part!

Surprisingly for such a high profile tour/artist the venue wasn't a sell out; much of the higher tier was covered and there were empty seats dotted about. The problem with legacy artists such as Clapton is that they have nothing left to prove anymore which means they can pretty much do what they like. I walked away from the venue with the feeling that I wanted something more. Clapton and band his band performed brilliantly, it has to be said, but the gig lacked atmosphere; something seemed to be missing...

Neil Daniels

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