Eric Clapton

Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA., April 6, 2013

Eric Clapton is above judgment.  How do you measure a guitar player who is widely recognized as the greatest of all time. Once even  as “God”

Answer: Against himself. Upon first glance at a setlist that features seven cover songs and a slew of  acoustic numbers, you may initially prepare yourself for one of Slowhand’s off nights. It turns out that you would have been sorely mistaken. After opening on his Martin acoustic with the touching Hello Old Friend and My Father’s Eyes, he broke out the Strat and put on an incredible bluesly  shedding session for the meat of the 19-song set. Interspersed throughout were numbers from Cream,  Derek and the Dominos and four Robert Johnson covers. Gotta Get Over was one of the few songs that made the cut from the new album Old Sock.

Keyboardist Paul Carrack, of Squeeze and Ace fame, sang each of his former bands’ biggest hits, Tempted and How Long. It was a welcome, familiar trip back to the Eighties. In some cities, Clapton has not performed Layla and after seeing it performed acoustic, it would not have been missed.  Even though he blew up the arena with killer solos on Badge, Stones in My Passway and of course, Cocaine, the electric intro to Layla is as instantly recognizable as All Along The Watchtower. Stripping it down is too glaring a diversion from such an energetic set.  Adding to the fury throughout were  backup singers Sharon White and Michelle John’s gospel choir pipes.

Is he the greatest guitar player of all time? That’s a matter of personal taste. Is he one of the best, living or dead? That statement is inarguable.