So, I’ve been having a bit of trouble coming up with things to say about the Eric Clapton concert I went to last weekend. At the risk of sounding like a perpetual sourpuss, I have to say I didn’t enjoy it very much. And I can’t decide whether it was old Eric himself, or the awful venue [never again will I attend a concert at the Egilshöll arena, NEVER] with its horrific acoustics, or the sweltering heat [apparently the temperatures inside went up to 29°C / 84°F], or the condensation that started dripping down from the ceiling about two-thirds of the way through [the body moisture of 14,000 people dribbling down upon our heads, can you say DISGUSTING?] or the still-infuriating fact that we had to deposit our water receptacles at the door and then stood in that godforsaken lineup for a fricking hour.
All those things were bad enough, but maybe the root of the problem is that I’ve never really been a huge fan of old Eric’s. I own one of his CDs – the Unplugged one – and ‘Layla’ and ‘Cocaine’ were two of the most blast-able party anthems when I was growing up, but apart from that I really don’t dig his stuff all that much.
Be that as it may, I do like most types of music when it’s played well, with passion and real gusto. When the performer is really into what he or she is doing, I can usually get swept up pretty easily and have a good time. Not so with old Eric last Friday. In fact, I have to echo the words of my sister-in-law who said that the entire time she couldn’t get past the feeling that he was just ‘doing his job’. That he was ‘at work’. That was my sentiment also – Clapton is a skilled musician, he can really go at those guitar strings, but to me a lot of it seemed pretty mechanical. About a third of the way through, he and his second guitarist starting doing this kind of duelling-guitar thing, which was the first time I felt any sort of chemistry between performer(s) and audience. Soon afterwards he broke out his acoustic guitar and played a few songs sitting down, which also came across really well. I thought at that point that the concert was about to take off, but alas – it soon faltered and old Eric was back to being ‘at work’.
Initially I thought this experience of the concert was perhaps because we were standing so far from the stage [I couldn’t see a damn thing and had to fall back on watching the action on those big screens they had flanking it; numerous times I wondered why I hadn’t just bought the DVD and turned the volume up real loud at home] and because of all the general discomfort in there, but my sister-in-law was right up close to the stage, and she felt the same way. So clearly that wasn’t the issue.
Another thing that really bothered me – and bothered a lot of the people I’ve talked to – was the fact that he came on, shouted “Good evening!”, shouted “Thank you!” after many of the songs, at one point he said something about his friend who was there, but that was it. He barely smiled and made no effort to form a rapport with the audience. He didn’t even introduce the band, which I thought was pretty lame. He’s not an unlikeable character and I know he’s had a hard time and he’s worked hard to get sober and all that so I’m prepared to cut him some slack, but he certainly didn’t win me over as a performer.
The major downer, though, for almost everyone, was the absence of Layla. Before he arrived, mbl.is published his set list from two days previously in Bergen, and he followed it exactly EXCEPT that he left out Layla. Now, I know that there’s no rule he has to play the same set, but since it seemed to have been the only song he omitted from the set it seemed like a major letdown for everyone. Truly disappointing.
I should state for the record here that EPI disagreed with me on almost every point. [Not the point about Layla. Nor about not introducing the band. But almost everything else.] But then he’s a guitar guy and really got into the intricacies of the playing and whathaveyou, and couldn’t have cared less if Eric smiled or bawled or stood on his head or shouted F*uck you! [well, maybe that]. EPI wanted some hot guitar action – he didn’t want “showmanship” – and hot guitar action is what he got. He went out of there pretty happy.
Just one more point: I thought he had a kick-ass band with him and was pretty enamoured of his keyboard player, who looked like a skinny version of a Scandinavian troll doll and really let rip on those solos – apart from ‘Cocaine’ those were the highlights of the concert for me. Clapton’s sidekick guitar player was pretty good too, but mostly I was just stunned by the fact that he played the entire concert with a wool hat stuck on his head without his brain being boiled to a pulp. Of the entire band, the most charismatic was the bass player, who unfortunately was only rarely shown on the big screen but who had an amazing stage presence. And the drummer was supremely entertaining of all – the expressions on that guy’s face were almost worth the price of admission alone.
That’s it for me, then. But if you’ve made it this far and were at the concert I’d love to have your take. Það má vera á íslensku!
GORGEOUS DAY TODAY
The sun was out for most of the day, colouring everything brilliant – until late this afternoon when clouds rolled in and we actually had a little sprinkling of rain. Took a break from work to get some fresh air out by the golf course and it was gorgeous, really WARM, which is rarely the case out there as it’s a peninsula that basically just juts out into the sea. And everyone seemed to be in such happy spirits. Looks like we’re in for more of the same over the next three days. Right now 13°C [55F], sunrise was at 5:07 am, sunset at 9.56 pm.
PS – found a couple of vids on YouTube that are actually a lot more impressive than the real thing *sigh* I should have just stayed home and watched the highlights there. Here’s [the completely cringe-worthy] Wonderful Tonight and here’s Cocaine. So what do you think: do you feel the passion, or is old Eric just doing his job?