Guitar “God” Eric Clapton kicked off his 2013 Tour in Phoenix, AZ last night and while it’s unlikely this tour will rank in the “Top 10 All Time Favorite Concerts” for anyone, an excellent time was had by all.
Clapton, started the evening off acoustically with the breezy and appropriate “Hello Old Friend”, from his 1976 release No Reason to Cry, followed by the moderate hit “My Father’s Eyes” from 1998’s Pilgrim, no, it wasn’t all that exciting and given Clapton’s catalog spanning 40 years of rock and roll one has to wonder why he would chose to kick off the evening with such tepid, easy listening tracks.
The show kicked into higher gear with “Got to Get Better in a Little While”, a favorite from the Derek and the Dominos days. Clapton tore into his wah wah on this tune and, despite his trademark stoic demeanor, finally showed signs of having a good time. The rapturous audience response confirmed the legendary rocker had at last tip toed into the “zone” we all had been patiently waiting for.
Surprisingly, the evening was a bit of a hit and miss affair, not all that unusual really during the first few nights of a new tour, one suspects the band/show will tighten with a little more time on the road. If I could suggest a tune they might consider exploring a little more during their future sound checks it would have to be the 70s classic, “Layla”, which last night meandered and drifted in an almost confused and listless way.
Concert highlights included Clapton’s definitive cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff”, (featuring awe inspiring guitar work from the “God” himself), “Little Queen of Spades”, a blues jam that allowed the full 9 piece band to stretch some extremely impressive muscles, and an extended version of “Cocaine” complete with shredding guitars and dueling pianos.
As a bit of a surprise, Paul Carrack, formerly of Mike & The Mechanics, Squeeze and Ace, is a member of EC’s band this time around and delivered some wicked work on both the organ and keys, not to mention some fine vocal work on his hits “Tempted”, (previously recorded by Squeeze), and “How Long” originally recorded by Carrack’s first band, Ace.
Hate to say it but it felt a bit like the big Clapton hits were just a lot of “going through the motions”, almost as if to say, “now that we got THAT out of the way, let’s play something we really like!” Definitely an understandable situation given how many times Clapton has performed these tunes, all I can tell you is, if you’re looking for engaging showmanship an Eric Clapton concert is not for you. However, if you’re coming to see one of the greatest guitarist rock and roll has ever offered shred a few strings, by all means run to the show, you won’t be disappointed!
The Wallflowers opened the show and, if you should happen to arrive late, never fear, you didn’t miss all that much.
Eric Clapton 2013 Setlist, US Airways Arena, Phoenix, AZ 3/14/2013
Hello Old Friend
My Father’s Eyes
Tell the Truth
Gotta Get Over
Black Cat Bone
Got to Get Better in a Little While
Tempted (Featuring Paul Carrack)
I Shot the Sheriff
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
Tears in Heaven
How Long? (Featuring Paul Carrack)
Stones in My Passway
Love in Vain
Little Queen of Spades
Sunshine of Your Love
High Time We Went (Featuring Paul Carrack)