Layla's space

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams it is still a beautiful world.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

'Clapton is God'

I went to the Albert Hall recently to see Eric Clapton. When I told people at work that I went, they were like, 'Oh, that sounds cool. Did you enjoy it?' To put it in context - the guy is my idol, he is a legend, I have been listening to his music since I was about 14 and I just could not believe I was there actually watching him play. Yes, you could say I enjoyed it.

Our seats were amazing - I could have walked over and touched him in about 10 seconds (I didn't try). I've never seen a live performance so close (apart from dodgy local bands in my home town). For the 1st couple of tunes I was a bit overwhelmed I think - I literally just sat there with my mouth open and tears in my eyes, and all those years of listening to his stuff over and over again on my Walkman on the way to school, in my room, in the car, etc were running through my head and it was like oh my God Eric fucking Clapton is standing right in front of me playing a Fender Strat! Don't wake me up from this dream!

Thankfully I did calm down a bit after the 1st couple of songs. As predicted, he made that guitar sing. The band were amazing as well - Andy Fairweather-Low had a couple of great guitar solos himself, Chris Stainton and Tim Carmon were phenomenal on keyboards (a couple of great solos there too), as was Willie Weeks on bass, Steve Gadd on drums and the backing vocalists (Michelle John and Sharon White) were pretty powerful. One of his old band members (Doyle Bramhall II - great name) was playing in the support act (Arc Angels) and he joined them for Layla, Cocaine and Crossroads at the end of the set.

I actually looked up the set list from reviews of previous nights and was a bit disappointed that he made 'Layla' part of his acoustic set, but hey, it sounds lovely on the acoustic guitar anyway. But on the night we went he played the full on, storming electric guitar version - I couldn't fucking believe it (cue me welling up like a big girl again). They seemed to have fattened up the sound of the long, meandering piano/guitar bit at the end of the song, which I enjoyed (I always used to fast-forward that bit - a bit long), and then they segued straight into a stonking rendition of JJ Cale's Cocaine - cue all the middle-aged people jumping out of their seats and having a bit of a boogie :)

He did a couple of Cream numbers - 'Badge', which he'd jazzed up a bit so it had a massive sound - loved it, and Crossroads, which was the encore song. I would have loved to hear 'White Room' or 'Sunshine of Your Love' as well, but the guy has a massive back catalogue I suppose, can't please everyone completely.

All in all, Eric rocked his 'front room', as he likes to think of the Albert Hall. I was a bit worried when I read a couple of reviews before the show - they didn't pan it or anything but they did say it was a bit pedestrian and that he looked 'too comfortable'. One of them criticised him for being too casual and turning up in his 'gardening trousers'! Well they can shut it, quite frankly, because he was sublime. I don't know what they expect from a 64-year-old guitarist - acrobatics? Playing the solos with his teeth? He's never been amazingly energetic on stage - he lets his guitar playing speak for itself. And I didn't go there to check out his designer gear - who gives a toss what he wears? Jeans and a shirt are fine with me - and he did look very comfy in his loafers :)


Anonymous goodster said...

i didn't know you were still blogging!

it's given me a lot of stuff to read this lunchtime.

re. clapton - although i think it's important to divorce the person from the music (eg. first album Libertines is superb yet Doherty will always be a prick) i've never been able to reconcile Clapton's views on immigration and Enoch Powell.

Rock Against Racism started out partly as a response to what he said at a gig in Birmingham.

but then you have to admire his skill.

damn you conflicting feelings of morality.

August 05, 2009 1:27 PM  
Blogger Layla said...

Very true - I have similar feelings, although at the time he said his Enoch Powell bit he was extremely drunk and (allegedly) had no recollection of saying those things afterwards. He was pretty messed up at that time and said/did quite a few awful things, including raping and beating his wife.

You could believe that since drying out and coming off drugs he has become a different person, though it doesn't take away the fact that he did those things. However, how much do we really know about what any of us might be capable of doing if we were that fucked up on drugs and drink?

August 06, 2009 9:22 PM  
Blogger Dr Vegas said...

Drugs and drink are no excuse for anyone's actions - I think if anything they just reveal the inner person. However, his music kicks ass.

Didn't know anything about the Clapton/Powell link and the raping/wife beating. I suppose I admire Clapton for his music but not his life.

Although this is a moral maze, one thing is for sure: I would like to see Pete Doherty impaled.

August 08, 2009 7:19 PM  

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