Eric Clapton RAH

Eric Clapton – A True Guitar Legend ROYAL ALBERT HALL 20th MAY

British rock music is blessed with a number of stars still performing live at or close to the age
of 80. Eric Clapton (79) is one of those, and if you get the chance to see this maestro playing,
then seize the day! Eric is famous for his residencies at the Royal Albert Hall, and this show
was the first of a run of 4 in front of sell out audiences.

Eric Clapton Live

As Eric struck up the first notes on his Strat, it was clear that the night was going to be
special in terms of his guitar playing, tone and articulation. A magical sound integrating
beautifully with the excellent 7 musicians supporting him (1 guitar, 1 base, 1 drums, 2 keys,
2 BV’s), giving us a splendid evening of Blues/ Blues Rock.

The show was beautifully paced, with a clearly thought through set list that ebbed and
flowed. The overall experience of listening to Eric and his band for 95 minutes was intense,
not the least of which because there were virtually no gaps between songs – Eric is a man of
few words. It may be a cliché, but his music did all the talking. The staging was also very
simple, with virtually no light show other than overhead white lights illuminating the band,
and to an extent the audience.

Eric Clapton RAH

Eric Clapton RAH

Eric Clapton RAH

There were some notable absentees from the set list – Layla and Wonderful Tonight in
particular. But this didn’t feel like a deficiency because the show was so well put together.
The set was in three sections – electric, acoustic then back to electric. With many highlights.
Opening with the instrumental Blue Dust, Eric then rocked into Key to the Highway, which
immediately showcased Erics wonderful guitar playing, excellent vocals (he was in fine voice
throughout) and the talents of his band.

Eric’s solos were so tuneful, so melodic. And of course, he played a solo on most songs. But
in doing so not eclipsing the rest of his band – in many cases we were treated to a second
guitar solo and two separate keyboard solos. In a style that sometimes created the
impression that this was a show being played in a small blues/jazz club with the soloists
taking their turns.

It was a particular treat to see Badge played in the first electric section, because this took
me back to listening to Goodbye Cream when I was 12 years old. A song from 55 years ago
and beautifully played by Eric and the band. The sound quality was excellent throughout the
gig, with a particularly good balance between the different instruments and voices,
especially during the acoustic section, which included Nobody Knows You When You’re
Down and Out and finished with the so sad Tears of Heaven.

The segue into the final, electric, section was exhilarating, with a drum solo playing as
acoustic props were cleared away, leading into the very upbeat Got To Get Better in a Little
While. The whole of this 3 rd section had the crowd rocking, most of whom I’m sure were
dedicated aficionados of Eric who gave him rapturous applause throughout the concert. This
section included an excellent rock version of Crossroads and concluded with Cocaine.

The band returned for a single encore of Before You Accuse me before leaving the stage.
Leaving me realising I had just had the privilege of watching a true guitar great, still at the
top of his game, backed by a superb band. This concert will live in the memory for a long

Paul Allen
21 May