Key Arena, Seattle, WA
27th July 2004

Review by : A Flowers (Another Ticket)

As a proud owner of several live Eric Clapton CD's, I think I can safely say that I am qualified to make an opinion. Perhaps the fact that I am such a collector of his music and know his stuff quite well, would lead to the fact that I was not blown away. That does not mean that this was any less of a show, just different. I was, however, extremely respectful of how Eric Clapton works tirelessly to put on a great show each and every time. Even though there were (and almost never are) any surprises in the set list, I saw quite a few things that I had never really seen or heard before in the previous 4 Eric Clapton shows I've attended.

The first thing to mention is how the entire show started a bit quickly if not too early. I believe Eric went on stage
at approx. 8:30 pm, this does seem to be around 45 minutes earlier than any other show I've been to. Robert Randolph was stunning and I suppose the greatest compliment I can pay is that I want to buy his album and see him live again. The man, and the entire group are really talented.

The EC show, of course started out with "Let it Rain" and right into the first solo, I could tell that EC's guitar did not sound right. At first I thought it was his amplifier, but I didn't notice Lee (The Guitar Tech) running over to the
Amp to fix any problems as he has done many many times in the past. I think perhaps it was either the Arena's sound system, or perhaps Eric's wireless Guitar Setup. Either way, I felt that the high notes just did not come through and got cut out most of the time. This proved to clearly be the case on "I Shot The Sheriff." The intro was a bit softer than all of the other versions I've heard from this tour - I was actually looking forward to a loud jazzy intro, but it wasn't there. For all of the slight guitar trouble up until this point, EC delivered one the most talented and important solo's I've ever heard him play.

Clapton plays the guitar in a very precise manner, he always has and always will. When you are not the type of guitar player who relies on huge riffs, and painful volume to get you by, the degree of difficulty goes way up. That's why when there's a problem with the sound most people recognize this at an EC show because EC refuses to just "wing it" or hide the problem with effects. It is stuff like this that makes you respect the man and his music. After the solo on "I Shot The Sheriff," I had even more respect for Clapton than ever before, and that's saying quite a lot. EC started off his solo quite slowly and to tell you the truth I though it would end that way, but it didn't. He ripped into an awesome solo playing much much faster than anyone probably realized at the time. He threw in marvellous chords and just would not stop until "The" Solo had ended. It seemed very much like he knew that "Sheriff" is a favorite on this tour, and he just wouldn't let the fan's be disappointed. He pulled out a solo with so much speed and innovation, that I stood in awe. I had actually seen Clapton do something different, he rose up to the occasion and delivered to the fans - and the fan's gave him a great standing ovation for it. Quite memorable. "Badge" was also simply wonderful. Of all of the Clapton songs performed live, I would have to rate this one as being one of the best songs ever to hear Eric perform live.

I can honestly say I've come across only a select few instances where the last 5 songs of a Clapton concert were better than the first 5 - That's just how it is. Today, I was amazed to see that last songs were by far better than the first. Even though Clapton looked dead tired (it's almost the end of the tour), he pulled it off. Normally people dismiss "Layla" and "Cocaine," but I have never heard them performed any better. Amazing if you think about it, he's been playing these for over 20 years. The solo on "Cocaine" was awesome with some real Wah-Wah action.

Interestingly, when EC did use his Wah-Wah, it sounded perfect - the sound problems didn't affect this. His intro to "Got To Get Better" was simply amazing, actually got a smile of approval from EC. After I heard the intro, I didn't want him to stop using his Wah-Wah; I secretly was hoping he'd leave it on...ala Jimi Hendrix style, but he didn't. As for the best songs of the show, that would have to be "I Want A Little Girl" and "Have You Ever Loved A Woman." These were largely the best due to Eric's singing which is really proving to be in a class all by himself. I remember thinking during the show, How many people can play an Instrument...any instrument, and sing like this, you just can't name more than a few.

I think what I'll take from this show is how EC rised up the occasion to perform in spite of fatigue and audio difficulties. Although he is very selfish with what songs he will perform, he just won't give anything less than 100% effort. He looked tired, but with a 3 day break since his last show, you've got to wonder why. Perhaps he's travelling with his family, who knows. Also, during "Possession" EC used his Black Stratocaster, the type used mainly from 1990 to 1999, with a few exceptions. I would like to see that Guitar and Guitar Sound make a comeback. I do not think I am a fan of the newer Graffiti Guitars. This show may not be the quality you'd like see on a CD, or DVD, but it was one of those shows where you just had to be there to appreciate.

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