For this veteran “guitar hero” to surface on his first big tour in 18 months shows the same impeccable timing that he brings to his slow, attenuated blues. Eric Clapton has returned on a national tour just when the blues are back in again, that is, if they ever left.
He appears to have lost none of his two-generation audience. At the first of three concerts in this venue last night, he was putting forward songs from his new double album, Just One Night, and also bringing forward the former leader of Procol Harum, Gary Brooker.
Although the evening was uneven, there was enough of Clapton’s stinging guitar lines, laid back, drowsy singing, closely backed by a highly polished sound from his five supporting performers. Of the recently recorded material, I particularly liked the attention-getting Tulsa Time, the metrically compelling Blues Power, and an elusive, introspective Rambling on my Mind.
Obviously sparking the motor of Clapton’s latest group, one of a dozen he has piloted, was the guitarist-singer, Albert Lee, whose sense of wit, impudence, and technical flash consistently enlivened things. His fast picking on Country Boy was as droll as it was adept.
Whatever the extremes Clapton has gone through since he became one of the prime movers of British blues back in the 1960s, it is never dull to see where he is going, even if he has been there before.
The support act was made up of two of London’s brightest rockers, Chas and Dave, doing their Rockney songs (that is what you get when Cockneys play rock).
Thanks to John Lock for locating this article, and to Jill McMahon for typing it
More mentions of Procol Harum in The Times