Thursday night saw a legend come to Dublin. Old Slowhand himself was another legendary name to check off the list of legends that must absolutely be seen live. Did he live up to expectations? Well not quite.
It might sound implausible that an Eric Clapton show would not be thoroughly enjoyed, however the show just lacked something as he celebrated 50 years as a professional musician. Starting with Hello Old Friend and My Father’s Eye the set list would span every age of Clapton along with plenty of blues covers. The audience throughout the show gave a revered silence, only clapping at the end of songs. Mobile phones were rarely held aloft as the age demographic showed. While the respect shown to the musician was fantastic (given how often we have to give out about chatting at gigs), it certainly took away from the atmosphere.
Aided on guitar by Greg Leisz, whose pedal steel guitar was fantastic, and Doyle Bramhall II assisting both, all three showing just how adept as musicians they are. Each solo felt effortless, the tracks just seems to flow from the guitars without so much as a bead of sweat. Tracks likeBlack Cat Bone, It Ain’t Easy and Further Down The Road are all executed fantastic technicality, and tempo that just flows along in that slow, southern style.
Bigger hits like Lay Down Sally get a quiet crowd singing along, while some form of a cross between the rock and acoustic version of Layla is disappointing. Wonderful Tonight is the first feeling of emotion from both Clapton and the reverent crowd while a trio of Crossroads, Queen Of Spades and Cocaine finish off the main set with Clapton’s usual proficiency; each solo sucking you in like guitar based quick sand. The encore consists of Sunshine of Your Love and High Time We Went are well received by the adulating crowd.
The show itself was as you would expect from Eric Clapton. It’s technical skill across a stunning blues track list of covers and Clapton history. While the show itself cannot be faulted musically, the show itself just lacked some bite or passion. Clapton himself plays solo’s with the minimal of effort and movement and very rarely interacts with the crowd. There is very little showmanship and the show suffers for it. Maybe Clapton is showing his age after 50 years on the stage, but there is little doubt this show could have been so much more. More passion, more emotion and definitely more interaction. While it was a privilege to witness a legend such as Clapton making the instrument of guitar look as effortless today as he has throughout his career, I wouldn’t rush back out to see him again live. A fact that makes me sad.