Royal Albert Hall
Thought I’d better catch the old sock before he retires, 35 years on from the last time, as well as taking the opportunity to see Albert’s Hall for the first time. Quite a grand old pile, ain’t it? Up in the gods, standing room looking down, I can fair see the appeal, if not quite the performers. Andy Fairweather-Low on first, probably no great surprise, trying hard to get the appreciative audience to remember him. No more than pub-rock really, with the highlight being “Legless”, showing he can still sing, the lowlight “If Paradise etc”, showing he can’t. A short gap and, echoes of ELP, down goes the turkish carpet. A sprightly double-denimed dude strides on and we’re off, banging straight in with some J.J.Cale, then Key to the Highway. It was clear he was not going to see what we thought of his new direction. This was play some old. And some. His solos all effortlessly, um, claptonesque, I have to say it was the the keyboards of forever-the-bridesmaid, Chris Stainton, still stick thin and becurtained by long straight hair, and, a surprise, Paul Carrack, that impressed the most. I had always thought of Carrack as a singer who plays organ. Tonight he showed his absolute mastery of the hammond, singing mainly backing vocals, together with 2 sturdy sashayers on a podium. The usual rhythm section of Nathan East and Steve Gadd, and this could have been a show from the last century. The setlist certainly was. With the usual sitting down acoustic amble thru’ Layla, Down and Out and a bossa nova Tears in Heaven out of the way, it was back to the blues. As they ripped thru’ Crossroads, Shot the Sheriff, Presence of the Lord (Nathan East handling the vocal), Cocaine, hell, all the ones you’d expect, I found myself thinking of all those who were playing with him no longer: Jack Bruce, J.J., B.B., who had a prolonged workout in his memory, Clapton shouting B.B. King, repeatedly, at one stage. I even thought of Carl Radle, bassist extraordinaire, as they whipped out Let it Rain. (O, and Joe Cocker, as Carrack sang that paean to homely women, You are so Beautiful. Yuk)
So, yes, a good show and glad I went. Clapton can still play, even if he is no longer the divinity he was.
All ages, well, from late twenties and an occasional grandchild, to the positively ancient, with lots of foreign tongues, it still being 1970 in France and Germany. Very vocally partisan for their man, tapping feet energetically. (Are you even allowed, except in the roof, where you have no choice, to stand up at the Albert?)
9 quid for a pint of Spitfire and a tasty chicken caesar cob, by the way.
It made me think..
We mock him for his growing older, but let’s not forget, Burty Saucepot, he was there and defined our youth. And didn’t sour that memory tonight.