Monday, February 22, 2010

Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck's Missed Opportunity

Since the shows were announced, I felt determined, but not quite comfortable about seeing Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton together. I knew three things--

1. I wouldn't be able to afford the ticket.

2. The fantasy set list consisting of Yardbirds material, mixed with the best each of these still dynamic guitarists has to offer would NOT be performed.

3. Jeff Beck would probably kill, while God would most certainly phone it in.

I've seen them both too many times to believe it would have been any different. Still I searched for a ticket, pulling the one-armed bandit in the guise of a fair and unbiased ticket seller named Ticketmaster, only to get offered seats not far from the Sbarros on 32nd and 7th, for a mere $179 per. (More than half of Madison Square Garden for that night, was being sold at $254 a ticket, the new norm.) I gave up...mostly because of the money, partly because I knew, once the shows were over, I'd have seen the set lists and will have been disappointed or thrilled, depending on how you looked at it.

I was right.

While it is probably wrong of me to criticize a show I did not see, I think it is pretty safe to say that even if Eric Clapton was on top of his game, (after listening to the show, I decided he was not,) there is no excuse for his sorry, lazy, and uninspired set list.

Eric Clapton
01. Driftin' - acoustic
02. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out - acoustic
03. Running On Faith - acoustic
04. I've Got A Rock 'N Roll Heart - acoustic
05. Tell The Truth
06. Key To The Highway
07. I Shot The Sheriff
09. Little Queen Of Spades
10. Cocaine

"I've Got A Rock & Roll Heart?" Really? This wasn't necessary before the phone commercial. As a matter of fact, his acoustic sets haven't been necessary since 1992's "MTV Unplugged" was released, and even then, that mortal sin known as "Acoustic Layla" was unforgiveable. This man can still play guitar, but I can't imagine anyone paying good money to see this man sit on a folding chair.

Jeff Beck's set, on the other hand, offered new material and a 30 piece orchestra. And yes, El Becko tends to play the same material, but it's the good material. Plus, if anyone has seen Jeff Beck lately, you will have witnessed a man on fire. Beck just gets better and better. He gives the fans what they want, something more artists should be doing these days, when concert tickets cost more than root canal. Here is what he played:

Jeff Beck

01. Eternity's Breath
02. Stratus
03. Led Boots
04. Corpus Christi Carol
05. Bass solo featuring Rhonda Smith
06. Hammerhead
07. Mna Na Heireann
08. Brush With The Blues
09. Big Block
10. A Day In The Life
11. Nessun Dorma that really giving the fans what they want? I'm confused.

Maybe I am being unfair. I'm guessing most paid whatever they paid, to see the boys play together. Here's how that turned out:

Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton

01. Shake Your Moneymaker
02. Moon River
03. You Need Love
04. Outside Woman Blues
05. Little Brown Bird
06. Wee Wee Baby
07. (I Want To Take You) Higher
08. Crossroads - encore

I think I may have ranted myself into a corner. This may be personal. Ticket prices and the fact that in this economy, shows like this still prove to be a tough ticket at almost $600 a pair, even though Clapton seems to care less and less these days, just get my shorts all twisted.

Who is going to these shows? Is it all rich people? Do you think this audience expected that fantasy set list, or do you think they were happy to hear acoustic versions of "Running On Faith" and "Driftin'?"

Here's what I would have paid $254 to see:


1. Beck's Bolero
2. Shapes Of Things
3. I Ain't Superstitious
4. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
5. (insert new song)
6. (insert new song)
7. Freeway jam
8. Cause We've Ended As Lovers
9. A Day In The Life
10. Nessun Dorma (why not?)


(all electric, using a Gibson SG. Hey, it's my fantasy.)

1. I Ain't Got You
2. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad
3. Badge
4. Bell Bottom Blues
5. Let It Rain
6. Stormy Monday
7. White Room
8. Comin' Home
9. The Core (I love "The Core")
10.Layla (electric version please)


Well, I guess anything would be fine after those two killer sets I just mentioned.

Knowing these songs exist and that these two giants could have thought about it and played them, how can anyone be satisfied with how the actual ahows turned out, even at half the price?

Here are some tunes from last Thursday. See what you think.






richeye said...

Spot on, Sal. The only reason for these shows to have happened - at that price - is to deliver on the fantasy of what could have been. This doesn't even come close. People like us still go (or want to) believing that Clapton will finally wake up and deliver. He was more exciting live when he was still a smack addict.

For Beck to open with his usual stuff, Clapton to pass off his usual and the two of them merely to scratch the surface is to deliver $54 of the $254 price. For this to be what it could have / should have been, both guys needed to do what must have been obvious to them right from the start. Give the people what they want! If that is distasteful, then don't do it at all.

soundsource said...

moon river ???????

jeff said...

I'm convinced something is physically wrong with Clapton.

allen vella said...

Great set list Sal..i'd definitely go to any show you program!! ;-)
Pricing is beyond reasonable..for me anyway. I always took comfort in going to New Orleans once, twice a year..even with the airfare I see more music, better music per dollar..especially at JazzFest time..As a lifelong NY'er, I do believe I will one day be priced out of my hometown. But thats ok, time to broaden the horizons...
I heard three or four opinions of the shows..most we're negative, the positive was from a diehard Clapton fan...and he really like his Tone (?)

Noam Sane said...


Clapton's tone? What can you say? Put aside the fact that he hasn't recorded anything remotely interesting in literally 30 years. That guitar tone is the sound of a man asleep in his easy chair. It's sanded-down Santana, with all the edge and bite removed.

Beck remains a real guitar hero, despite the fact that he shaves his armpits (what the hell?). His tone is all bite, and you get the sense that he's still fascinated by music and by his instrument, and he's still trying to grow.
Awesome tone, and how does he keep that Strat in tune with all that whammy-bar abuse?

I don't even consider going to concerts any more. It's over - I can't afford it. But I knew when I saw that they were touring together that it would be less than the sum of its parts.

I saw Clapton during his drunken stooge period (late 70's) - he stumbled around the stage like a buffoon and let his 2nd guitarist solo as much, or more, than he did. That show only cost me $20, but I'm as pissed off today as I was then. Asshole.

steve simels said...

I saw the Thursday show. What can I tell you -- I had a good time.

And I thought "Moon River" was glorious and funny and worked.

steve simels said...

saw Clapton during his drunken stooge period (late 70's) - he stumbled around the stage like a buffoon and let his 2nd guitarist solo as much, or more, than he did.

I didn't, but I heard the records, and they were appalling. Particularly that 2nd guitarist, George Terry, who was perhaps the single biggest hack rock musician the 70s coughed up.

Obviously, the show last week was on a slightly higher esthetic level.

Sal Nunziato said...

I don't doubt that those in attendance had a great time. I am sure I would have if I had gotten in for free, or paid something reasonable. But sometimes, it's just a little too obvious that Clapton has nothing else to prove.

Even the biggest offenders of being "in it for a buck," the Rolling Stones, go deep into their catalogue, and rarely ONLY play dreck, which is what Eric seems to do more often than not.

Though, the Derek & The Dominoes sets he was playing when he toured with Derek Trucks on slide, seemed a bit more inspired.

Anonymous said...

"Night of the Living Dead!"

I don't blame Clapton, I blame the audience. They will put up with utter dreck and cheer for more. At least Fillmore East audiences would boo an act (including a headliner) that stunk out the joint.

The higher the ticket price the lower the musical IQ.


Anonymous said...

I was at this show and i agree with you it was a snoozefest.

Bobby Wattlington

cooljerk said...

why doesn't this surprise me?...why do you guys seem surprised? you want to know why these musicians (and you can include the stones and a whole lot of other acts, too) get out every so often to play huge venues for big money?........because they can!...and you (suckers, or specifically, suckers who can afford the price of a ticket) continue to go to these shows...and if you're not thoroughly disappointed, it's likely you're making excuses, 'cause you don't want to talk bad about your heroes...heroes, my ass...if these guys were playing for you (and the love for the music) they would be out there ALL THE smaller venues (where you can watch the stage, not a giant screen)...and for a lot less bread--so that real fans who otherwise couldn't afford the ridiculous ticket prices might still get to see one of the shows.......but who am i kidding?...that ain't happening, because these acts are just in it to cash big checks...and you suckers still don't see it that way...ok, maybe i was the old days you could have seen everybody at the fillmore, max's kc, steve paul's scene...even murry the k's world for 5 bucks...but y'know what, i wouldn't pay 5 bucks to see some of these fat cats today!...i say go out, check out the smaller clubs (yeah, you might actually have to pay 10 or 20 dollars to see a show, today) and see some new music (it's really out there; you just gotta look (like the old days when the "discovery" was part of the fun)...the point is, let your old heroes go...(i say "to hell", if they're gonna play like they're doing you a favor)...anyway, it's just my opinion...steven

soundsource said...

way to go mr. cool jerk and such passion you must be snowed in somewhere but I'd have to say I agree with most of what you had to say (with a little less vitriol maybe)

Terry said...

Cooljerk - EXACTLY!

Proof - Ian Hunter.

(Yes I do love him - but I am a frustrated guitarist and really, really love Clapton and Beck's past playing - and Beck's present work.)

Ian Hunter continues to put out challenging, intelligent work at the age of 70. And he plays shows like a 17 year old auditioning for a label contract.

And money IS an object for him - so his output is measured, thoughtful and pretty consistently better than expected.

I am glad I did not shell out for Clapton/Beck. Which I did do for a Clapton/Trucks Dominos-lite show, the Winwood show, the Cream reunion, etc.

The last time Clapton left me with that gobsmacked, "he really IS god" feeling was the From the Cradle Tour. That was 15 years ago.

OldRockr1 said...

I was there on Thursday night. Grabbed a pair of cheapos (70 bucks) and too the kid. He's never seen either and loved. Great Clapton setlist, no. Was it good, yep. He's playing better now than those shows in the 70's that's for sure. Jeff Beck was amazing to see again. Playing together was a little less exciting as they just don't mesh well imho. Although Moon River was quite good and Clapton played very well on the blues tracks. I've seen EC a whole lot over the years and the last few tours have featured some of his better playing. The tour with Winwood especially. But that's just me.