Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Eric Clapton Gig Review Birmingham13 May 2013

When I get the chance to see a legend play music, then I don't say no, that was the key reason I went to see Black Sabbath, not a huge Sabs fan, but a Midlands legend, stars on the Broad Street walk of fame and everything, which I reviewed here.

So the opportunity with work to see Eric Clapton was too good to miss. I had heard really interesting stories in the documentary about George Harrison Living in the Material World not least because of the stealing of George Harrisons wife the subject of the song Wonderful Tonight.

Settling in to my seat for the 2 hour set, I was hopeful of a real show, this was Eric's final tour (possibly) and he was celebrating 50 years since a young Eric kicked off his career in the Yardbirds. He had promised a selection of his more commercial hits, where could he go wrong.

Kicking off with some a couple of acoustic numbers, big screens focussed on the perfection of Eric's fingers flying around the fretboard making the guitar sing and squeal. Onto a few electric numbers and I found my mind wandering, the end of each song coming, I appreciated the perfection of the playing, the interaction of the band, but was left cold by the lack of atmosphere. Not sure which of the factors left me cold, the seated reverent audience, you could hear a pin drop in between songs. in between songs it was quiet because there was not a word from Eric, just into the next song. I think this was a shame, the opportunity to give a little bit to the audience about what the songs meant to him, where they came from, anything really the audience would have lapped up. Also for the songs that I didn't know, I didn't feel anything more than listening a song on the radio, it felt like there was no passion, energy, vitality or emotion. 

The audience though enjoyed the show (reverentially), with the focus of big screens sticking on hands, but it picked up massively for me when the songs I knew appeared. I can't believe how much The cod reggae of I shot the sheriff changed my enjoyment, as I was able to anticipate hum, clap and feel a bit more. This was felt even more so by Lay Down Sally. Best bit - the opening riff of layla, worst bit of the gig the realisation that Layla would be played out in a slow hand clap manner.

Wonderful tonight was my highlight, an incredibly beautiful song and knowing the background to it brought it to life. The Blues tracks were great but just made me think of the passion that jumped out of the Memphis Blues players I had seen when I did the driving tour a few years ago, and the need to watch the Blues Brothers with my kids.

So in overview, glad I was there to see it, can appreciate the excellent skills of a Guitar Genius, but give me a small venue where you can see the rawness and passion of the band playing the music. Compare the beauty of these songs to John Grant from Thursday - and I'm heading to the institute every time.

Non music related though - the Amplify food at the NEC was SUPERB

Setlist from the ever excellent Setlist website:

  1. Acoustic
  2. Electric
  3. (Albert Collins cover)
  4. (Harold Arlen cover) (Paul Carrack on lead vocals)
  5. (Taj Mahal cover)
  6. Acoustic
  7. (Robert Johnson cover)
  8. (Paul Carrack cover) (Paul Carrack on lead vocals)
  9. Electric
  10. (Cream song)
  11. (Robert Johnson cover)
  12. (Robert Johnson cover)
  13. (Robert Johnson cover)
  14. (J.J. Cale cover)
  15. Encore:
  16. (Joe Cocker cover) (Paul Carrack on lead vocals)


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