[Slowhand] Clapton/Cale San Diego show filmed for DVD release

John Mills turbineltd at btconnect.com
Sat Mar 17 17:24:16 EDT 2007


Clapton leads one hot band
By George Varga
March 17, 2007
Eric Clapton, just one of the guys in the band?
You wouldn't expect one of the biggest, most influential rock 'n' roll
legends of the past 40 years to shun the spotlight. But at his superb
Thursday night concert here at ipayOne Center, which included an
unadvertised guest spot by Valley Center troubadour J.J. Cale, the iconic
English guitarist, singer and songwriter seemed as happy to step back and
let his fellow band members soar at length as he did commanding center

Thursday's unadvertised guest spot by spotlight-shunning Valley Center
troubadour J.J. Cale (left) had Eric Clapton, a longtime Cale fan, beaming.
Clapton did so not because of a sudden bout of stage fright or diminished
capabilities, a point underscored by the fact that his exquisitely crafted
solos were consistent high points of the nearly two-hour-long performance.
But he has surrounded himself with gifted musicians whose skills are matched
by their versatility and sensitivity. And he wisely recognizes that letting
them shine, too, creates a win-win situation for all involved.
The audience of 11,300 at Thursday's sold-out show loudly cheered the
compelling instrumental displays by pianist Chris Stainton, bassist Willie
Weeks and, in particular, guitarists Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall II. In
turn, Clapton fed off the energy and varying stylistic approaches of his
fellow musicians to push himself to new artistic heights. He appeared
especially inspired by young bottleneck guitar master Trucks, 27, and by ace
singer-songwriter Cale, 68.
The result was a thoroughly satisfying night of first-rate music that found
this 61-year-old rock and blues icon revisiting his past, with a notable
emphasis on "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" (the classic 1970 album he
recorded as a member of the sadly short-lived Derek & The Dominos). He did
so in a manner that was fresh and invigorating, never stale or predictable.
Thursday's 16-song concert was also a master class in pacing, dynamics and
the art of constructing a performance to unfold and build like a great book
or film.
The finely calibrated set list featured such staples as "Wonderful Tonight"
and the majestic title track from "Layla," along with three choice cuts from
"The Road to Escondido," last year's delightful duo album by kindred spirits
Clapton and Cale.

Speaking of which, Clapton's ongoing tour has taken him from London to
Shanghai and from Budapest to Bangkok. But Thursday's show was the sole date
to feature a cameo by Cale, who has long been one of Clapton's idols.
Sitting side-by-side with Trucks and Bramhall, Clapton and Cale amiably sang
and played together on such Cale-penned gems as "After Midnight," "Cocaine"
and the more recent "Don't Cry Sister" and "Who Am I Telling You?" Clearly
delighted, Clapton beamed and grinned throughout Cale's five-song guest
The show also included such classics as Jimi Hendrix's high-flying "Little
Wing," Bobby "Blue" Bland's rollicking "Further on up the Road" and Delta
blues pioneer Robert Johnson's fiery "Queen of Spades" and "Crossroads," on
which Clapton traded exuberant vocal and guitar lines with the show-opening
Robert Cray.
Together with the other selections, these songs vividly demonstrated how a
concert's repertoire can be designed to encourage both spontaneous musical
combustion and the most delicate filigrees and grace notes.
That's why it didn't matter that Clapton only spoke to the audience a few
times between songs, or that he rarely said more than "thank you" or the
name of a band member who had just been featured. His music said everything
he wanted to, with an eloquence no words could match.
The show, which was filmed for future DVD release, drew a predominantly
older audience. But the four teenagers I passed while leaving looked just as
happily stunned by what they'd heard as concertgoers two or three times
older. No matter their age, the delight of each fan was easy to understand.

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