[Slowhand] Clapton Article

EFSCHUL at aol.com EFSCHUL at aol.com
Tue May 30 09:12:05 EDT 2006

Article on Clapton at the RAH.....Financial Times, 30 May 2006 follows:

Eric Clapton, Royal Albert Hall, London
By Ludovic Hunter-Tilney
Published: May 30 2006 12:30 | Last updated: May 30 2006 12:30

Unlike his fellow sexagenarian axe hero Neil Young, who recently complained
that a dearth of young protest singers inspired him to record an
anti-Iraq-war album, Eric Clapton seems indifferent to rock music as anything other than
an exercise in musicianship. For him it begins and ends with technique: the
rest is frippery.

There was nothing frivolous about this concert. No showmanship, no chat, no
spontaneity. Gone are the wild improvisations and psychedelic guitar jams of
his days in Cream. Instead we were treated to a masterclass of technical
artistry, not just from Clapton but also from his impressive backing band too.
There were slide guitar solos, blues-rock solos, fiddly high-end solos, bass and
drum solos – and that was just by the end of the second song.
The guitar solo is by nature brash and self- indulgent. But Clapton, despite
his reserve towards the audience, proved a surprisingly generous, relaxed
performer. He gave ample playing opportunities to two younger guitarist-
sidekicks, while his own fretwork was fluid and organic: rather than bully the
songs, his solos stayed elaborately true to their rhythms and tempos.
On record he tends to polish his music until it gleams like an executive
saloon. But he was less smooth live, barking out lyrics in the style of a
bluesman and favouring the harder stuff over the soft rock he lapsed into in the
1980s. The evening was book-ended by two fierce tracks, “Pretending” and “
Crossroads”, which found Clapton at his best: dextrous, aware, virtuosic.
There was the odd longueur – unavoidable in a career as patchy as Clapton’s –
and some of his best-known songs are either stale (his cover of Bob Marley’
s “I Shot the Sheriff”) or hopelessly saccharine (“Wonderful Tonight”). Yet
the good moments – deft solos, pounding rock songs, supple blues licks –
outweighed the bad. When the mood strikes him, he can still put his technique
to formidable use. ★★★☆☆
Tel +44 0207 589 8212
Now touring in Europe
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