Last Night in Cleveland: Eric Clapton

I have no idea if guitar legend Eric Clapton reads C-Notes, but I was definitely surprised to hear Clapton deliver a version of "Layla" that was appropriately plugged in at his first Blossom Music Center appearance in 18 years. Clapton rolled out a set last night that was short on conversation, peppered with the occasional crowd-pleasing hit, and heavy on the blues. And for nearly two hours, the packed Blossom audience ate up every lick of it on a night that weather-wise, was uncharacteristically perfect. Clapton strolled out wearing jeans and a white shirt, and wasted no time getting to the blues, opening with the first of many standards: a rollicking rendition of the Blind Willie Johnson (and longtime Clapton staple) number "Motherless Children." Sideman Doyle Bramhall II and Clapton traded lead vocals and lots of slide guitar. "Key to the Highway" and "Hoochie Coochie Man" followed, before the set list took a welcome left turn with the Hendrix classic "Little Wing." Aside from Bramhall, Clapton's band has undergone a bit of an overhaul since I saw him last summer in Chicago at the Crossroads Guitar Festival. New faces include Pino Palladino (who’s played with Jeff Beck, the Who, and Simon and Garfunkel), keyboardist Chris Stainton (another longtime Clapton collaborator), and drummer Ian Thomas, who backed Clapton at his recent Madison Square Garden shows with Steve Winwood. Unfortunately, guitarist Derek Trucks, who’s given much energy and 1970s-style rock power back to Clapton's live show, is not on the current tour ...

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