Telewest Arena, Newcastle,
27th April 2004
Review by : Dave Simpson
Eric Clapton stares from the cover of a lot of current magazines: fag in mouth, guitar held like a shotgun and demeanour that of a hitman who has discovered psychedelics. These images date, however, from the 1960s, when graffiti proclaiming "Clapton is God" appeared around London. Anyone would think he hadn't spent the next three decades waylaid by heroin, alcohol and dodgy Armani suits.
The reverence being paid to the young Clapton seems to coincide with some sort of change occuring in his life now. The suits have been binned in favour of jeans, his entire Armani-period output has been trashed and, crucially, Clapton, 59, plays with a fire he hasn't found in years.
The key could be Robert Johnson, whose songs he has recorded on a new album -although they come across more powerfully live. After an opening, almost detached 10 minutes, a brace of Johnson tunes locks the guitarist into his music and the blues. Later, his empathy with lines like Billy Myles's "Have you ever loved a woman so much you tremble in pain?" is almost physically uncomfortable.
The number of teenagers present suggests Clapton is finding a new role - along with the White Stripes - in taking the blues to a new generation, but he also plays his rock back catalogue. The Cream-era Badge is reincarnated as a soul stomper. Even Wonderful Tonight has been stripped down to an eerie, almost Palace Brothers - sounding declaration of humble, awestruck love.
Solo after blistering solo suggests he's finally finding the self-confidence to show why he was the only true contemporary of Jimi Hendrix, not least with a metal mayhem rendition of Sunshine of Your Love. "Go on son!" shouts someone. When Clapton solos like this, his eyes closed, his body twitches and it's as if he's connected to a higher power he cannot understand. It's true then: Clapton is God
Review by : Dave Mc Alister
Unbelievable. That's all I can say. Its 4 years since I seen Eric play and the wait was worth it. He started with Let It Rain, Hoochie Coochie Man and then really took off with I Shot The Sheriff with a solo that just blew us away. After that it just got better. One small point, the concert was in Newcastle, England not Manchester. Keep on rocking Eric.
Review by : Paul Severs
First of all the Telewest arena is is NEWCASTLE, not Manchester! We did a 200 mile, four hour, return trip from Yorkshire to my home town for my first live experience of Slowhand since he did the Newcastle City Hall in 1980, and I was not disappointed. Even his support band were pretty good [much better than 1980!] including a pretty amazing Jimi Hendrix impression by the band leader, Robert Randolph, who Joined Clapton for the last number. With his band on stage, Clapton strolled coolly on playing an introductory lick to Let It Rain - followed in quick succession by Hoochie Coochie Man, Walk Out In The Rain, Bellbottom Blues, and I Shot The Sheriff, with just one word, 'thank you' between them. He then announced a series of Robert Johnson songs from his recent album, beginning with Milk Cow Blues, followed by When You Got A Good Friend, a quick axe change for They're Red Hot, and then back to the Fender for Kind Hearted Woman Blues.
Then followed some old classics with up-to-date arrangements, Got To Get Better In A Little While, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Badge, Wonderful Tonight, and then Layla, done à la Derek and the Dominoes, with the long ending I hadn't heard for twenty years or more. A blistering Cocaine brought the main set to its climax, followed by a two-number encore announced by the unmistakable opening riff of Sunshine Of Your Love. The final number was new to me, so I'm not sure of the title, but I think the chorus began Can my mojo work?
Worth the journey and ticket money - absolutely - wish I could afford to go again!
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