ERIC CLAPTON - Tampa, FL 05/03/2008

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ERIC CLAPTON - Tampa, FL 05/03/2008

Postby dabstudio » Mon May 05, 2008 11:42 am

Ford Amphitheater
Tampa, Florida USA

from the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES (05/04/08)

TAMPA — Eric Clapton. If you're of a certain age, if your passion for music developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there's still magic in that name, magic diluted but not destroyed by years of soft-rock hits and uninspiring albums.

The man people used to call God and now call Slowhand came to town Saturday and proved that there's still plenty of magic in his music, too.

Backed by a six-piece band (bass, drums, keyboards, a second guitar and two backup singers) Clapton delivered one stunning guitar solo after another. At its best — which was most of the time — his playing had as much sweetness, fluidity and fire as it did in his days with Cream and Derek and the Dominoes.

Clapton's music has taken some surprising turns over the years, from the pure blues of his early years with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, into the pyschedelia of Cream's Disraeli Gears, the extended jams of live Cream shows, the R&B of Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, and into easy-listening faves such as Wonderful Tonight.

In Saturday's show, the first stop on his latest U.S. tour, Clapton wasted no time in letting the crowd of 15,500 at Ford Amphitheatre know they were in for an evening of blues. He kicked things off with Tell the Truth, an original bit of straight-ahead blues that he wrote with fellow Domino Bobby Whitlock.

Once he staked out the blues territory, he didn't venture out of it for long. One old blues song after another followed, from Muddy Waters' Hoochie Coochie Man to a slightly uptempo version of Outside Woman Blues, a 1920s era blues made popular by Cream, to the traditional Motherless Child, one of Clapton's best-known blues covers.

The songs, though, were just the canvas for Clapton's solos, which can still send shivers down the spine of a guitar fan. He took one or two long solos in almost every song, and generously allowed his colleagues to take organ and guitar solos as well. As you might expect, Clapton has surrounded himself with top-notch bands, and those other soloists offered some lively and interesting work.

The crowd at the Ford Amphitheatre (about three-quarters of the capacity) loved it all. Most were in their 40s and 50s, and there were plenty of canes, bald heads and vintage tie-dye T-shirts in the crowd. But there were noticeable factions of younger people in their 20s and 30s as well.

Although the emphasis, especially in the early going, was on the blues, Clapton didn't ignore people who wanted to hear his hits. He sneaked in a phenomenal version of Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing a few minutes into the show and finished his two-hour set with Layla. His encore started with Cocaine, and he brought the audience back to the blues with Robert Johnson's Crossroads.
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