[Slowhand] NYC 1st night review

gipsj at optonline.net gipsj at optonline.net
Fri Sep 29 12:56:58 EDT 2006

Review from the NY Daily News

New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
Eric just gets better

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Everybody needs a shakeup now and then, especially someone saddled with the confining mantle of a legend.
Eric Clapton came up with his own brilliant twist for his latest tour, which swept into Madison Square Garden last night for the first of three sold-out shows.
The guitarist finally left behind most of his longtime, clock-punching live band to bring in some thrilling new hires. He imported a drummer of special vigor (Steve Jordan), a bassist able to anchor even the most complex rhythms (Willie Weeks) and a young guitarist (Derek Trucks) with enough bracing skill to spur the star to perform at his finest.
Clapton also kept in tow his old second guitarist, the sure-fingered Doyle Bramhall 3rd.
The result generated more flashes of fire than listeners found at last year's would-be historic Cream reunion. That tour saw Clapton too often putting speed bumps in the material or pruning the songs down from their original inspired sprawl. Last night, the star gave more room and spark to both his solos and those of his sidemen, letting the music breathe and grow.
With three expert axmen to call on, the band could seemingly take the songs in any direction it desired. In the blues "Queen of Spades," Bramhall seized the first lead, chopping up and intensifying the beats with his coiled and gritty fingerings. Trucks stepped up next, using his sweet-toned slide work to embroider the melody with detail. Then, the 61-year-old Clapton rocketed the song to an aching height with lead work peerless for its mix of heat and consideration.
The addition of Trucks, who most often plays with the Allman Brothers, proved both canny and historically resonant. The 27-year-old guitarist was named after Derek and the Dominoes, the band that united Duane Allman with Clapton. That's a heady legacy to live up to. But last night the band met it straight on. It gave the old act's "Got to Get Better in a Little While" the mania of the original, and Trucks' solo on the Dominoes' ballad "I Am Yours" cried with feeling. Together, it proved that even the most brilliant players only shine brighter when they get equally starry support.

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