Musician is a title that is earned and I don’t use lightly. Eric Clapton is a virtuoso musician of the highest level. In his understated, “Slow Hand” way he took us on a kaleidoscopic tour of his rich musical legacy. And what a tour it is…
I scored my tickets from a good friend I work out with. He called late Monday afternoon with the good news. Making it to a concert on a Tuesday night can be a little challenging and unfortunately we were late for the opening act The Wallflowers. This is Bob Dylan‘s son, Jakob Dylan‘s band. We sat down in our seats just in time to hear their best know song “One Headlight” . They sounded great, but we only heard their last four songs. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the arena was completely full for The Wallflowers. Apparently, most of the fans that attended the show had no problem being on time for the 7:30PM start time. This is the first concert I’ve been to in years where so many fans turned out for the opening act. Very impressive, and a great indication of the popularity of this great band.
After a brief intermission, Eric quietly strolled onto the stage with his incredible band: Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Steve Jordan (drums), Chris Stainton (piano and keyboards), and Willie Weeks (bass), along with the amazing Paul Carrack (organ and keyboards), Greg Leisz (pedal steel guitar), and Michelle John and Sharon White (backing vocalists). Instead of kicking off the show with a bang, Eric started out the concert with two acoustic dominated songs: “Hello Old Friend” (A greeting to the crowd) and “My Father’s Eyes”. Both songs featured great pedal steel solos by Greg Leisz. After the first two songs, Clapton greeted the crowd by talking about how much he loved Dallas and that he considered it a second home. He then kicked it up a notch as the band launched in to “Tell The Truth” from his great Album Layla. This song featured outstanding solos from all three guitarists. Doyle Bramhall was amazing as he played his guitar Hendrix style (he plays left handed, with a right handed guitar that is turned upside down, so the bass strings are on the bottom and the treble strings are on the top). Up next was a song from Clapton’s new album “Old Sock” called Gotta Get Over. This song stood up well against all the other well known hits that Clapton played. A powerful cover of the Albert Collins song Black Cat Bone featured amazing guitar work by Clapton and Bramhall. Clapton then went back to his Derek and the Dominos days and performed Got to Get Better in a Little While. This song was smoking hot! It was a huge bonus that Clapton was touring with Paul Carrack. Paul is a living legend in England. He is sadly, only moderately well known in the U.S.A. Paul took the first of three turns at lead vocal with “Tempted” from his days with Squeeze. This magnificent song was magnificently sung by one of the best “Blue Eyed Soul” singers on the planet. It is also very appropriate that Eric Clapton occasionally played the roll of “side man” to another singer/song writer. It hearkened back to the days when he toured with Delaney and Bonnie. He had several times in his 50 year career that he just wanted to be the guitar player in the band. Next Clapton played the first song from his days with Cream as the band almost blew the roof off the arena with an extended version of Badge. This song brought the crowd to it’s feet for the first time in the show.
Clapton took a chair next and did an “unplugged” set that included Driftin’ Blues, (Written by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers) a uptempo reggae version of Tears in Heaven that was only marginally effective, a great version of Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, and Layla.
Paul Carrack then returned to sing his great hit from his days with Ace: How Long (Has this been goin’ on?). Clapton turned in one of his best solos of the night during this song.
Then the concert went to a whole different level and I had one of the concert experiences that stay with you for a very long time… Clapton walked up to the microphone and said “Now, it’s Robert Johnson time!” I’m sure there were many in the arena that missed the significance of that moment, but it was not lost on me. Without Robert Johnson there would be no Rock-n-Roll. Few people know that 13 of his known recordings were made on the third floor of 508 Park Ave. in Dallas. Eric Clapton has been personally involved in saving and protecting this important historical property. Clapton and his band tore through Stones in My Passway, Love in Vain, Crossroads, and a powerful cover of Little Queen of Spades. This was what you paid to see. Powerful, raw blues guitar by the greatest living blues player on the planet. The last song before the encores was J.J. Cale’s song Cocaine.
The band return for two encores, Sunshine of Your Love, which was amazing, and Paul Carrack sent us all home with a rousing cover of the Joe Cocker song “High Time We Went”.
This tour is coming to an arena near you. I think it’s high time you went…