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Brands Hatch : Saturday 3rd August 2002

Eric Clapton and Jools Holland

Review by Louise Fowkes

Thousands of music lovers were treated to an exclusive evening on Saturday 3rd  August, when two bands came together in the unlikely setting of Brands Hatch.  One would have expected rock music to round off the day’s racing but surprisingly enough, the audience experienced the musicians playing what they obviously love performing – rhythm and blues.

Jools Holland and his Band (all 20 of them!), celebrated for their boogie-woogie blues, played a ‘stonking’ set, incorporating both known tunes and some unfamiliar ones.  Jools is always very gracious and acknowledges his band members by highlighting each individual instrument with a solo spot.  But when he invited Sam Brown to the stage, we had found a true instrument.  Her strong but sweet vocal gave the music it’s incredible sound, soaring through two songs, she was truly amazing to listen to.

Once the audience were nicely warmed up, Eric Clapton came on in his usual unassuming way.  He is a star in every sense of the word and yet he gives the impression that he is just part of the furniture.  He welcomed his band on stage, all of them seasoned artists in their own right.  On piano and vocals, Gary Brooker, rhythm guitar, Andy Fairweather-Low, with Dave Bronze playing bass and Henry Spinetti on drums.

Again, with many established musicians, they will usually step back and allow their fellow members to take the floor and like Jools, Eric was no exception.  Once he had played a couple of songs and confirmed his place as the most proficient guitarist in the world, he introduced us to his friends.  Gary Brooker can always hit the right note for the blues, with his rough and gravely vocal, together with his masterful moves on the piano, he sailed through the songs with ease and style.  Although many watching were obviously unfamiliar with his face, he assured the audience his place on stage when he played the classic A Whiter Shade of Pale.  Andy Fairweather-Low added true class (and some seriously excellent high notes!) to a couple of tracks and again, was an absolute pleasure to watch.  Always one to surprise his audience, Eric then announced his final guest, lead guitarist Albert Lee to join them.  Albert, a mighty fine picker, graced us with a couple of tunes and then played alongside the band for the rest of the evening.

Many of the audience had come specifically to see Eric - the rock guitarist, and some were perhaps a little disappointed that he didn’t delight us with his renditions of the classic Layla or the haunting  Wonderful Tonight.  But this was not a big charity gig at Wembley Stadium.  This was an event that was so much more personal.  What was witnessed was Eric getting his friends together and playing his first true love - the blues. Relaxed, unpretentious and just awesome to listen to, you truly appreciated the musicianship of the artists on stage. Looking back on the evening however, you felt you had just ‘snuck’ in on a ‘jam’ in Eric’s front room!

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