Saturday, June 27, 2009

Went up to Dallas Tuesday night and attended a great concert.

Picked up the tickets a few months back. Saw it on the computer... Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood appearing at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. I knew I had to be there. Denise agreed, so I searched for some good seats. As usual, I try to find something in a range between "Holy Shit, are they fuckin' kidding?" and the cheap seats way up near the roof. The nose-bleed seats. In this case we won out. I think I paid about $550 for two seats on the left side of the stage, section 104, row H, seats 3 and 4, just up from stage level.

Having never been in the American Airlines Center, I was amazed at the size of the place. It's friggin' HUGE inside. I can't believe they built this place just for a basketball team. But it makes a decent concert venue too, as we found out Tuesday.

The gig was supposed to start at 8PM. We got there a bit early and paid $20 to park. We got our drinks, t-shirts and found our seats with plenty of time to check out the venue. Then, at about 8:15, the lights dimmed and the band walked up from behind us, down on our right, up some stairs and onto the stage. Without much ado they broke into a great rendition of... I think it was "Had To Cry Today".

Here's a taste. Someone posted a clip from the Dallas concert on Youtube. It'll give you a sense of what we were in for.

From then on it was just one great old tune after another. They played for over two hours, until about 10:30, without much of a break and without much banter from the band. It was basically just an evening of great music.

With the wealth of music to chose from, at least fifty years of great recordings and hits to chose from, there's probably no way these two artists could play a gig and not end up disappointing someone. But I'll have to say that they not only made me happy, they surprised the hell out of me.

The guys stuck mostly to tunes from Blind Faiths one studio album, which Clapton and Winwood produced in the summer of 1969, along with Ginger Baker and Ric Grech. It's the 40th anniversary of that great, classic albums release. But along with that, they played a few old blues numbers, with Clapton doing a wonderful job on both the vocals and the guitar. And they threw in a few other old hits too. There was something there for everyone. It was a great set.

At one point, maybe an hour into the gig, Clapton and the others left Winwood on stage and the rest of the band took a short break while he played "Georgia On My Mind" on his Hammond B-3 organ. I understand that in the Houston concert, Wednesday night, he played "Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys".

I can't help but be envious of those folks in Houston, even though it was great to hear him play "Georgia". It reminded me of the fact that when he and Clapton began playing music together, 40 years ago, Winwood, who was only about 21 years old, already had a reputation for being able to play and sing like Ray Charles.

He'd begun playing while still in school, hired to work in "pick-up" bands for American Blues stars as they toured England. While Clapton played with the Yardbirds, Winwood was playing with folks like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Eddie Boyd, Otis Spann, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. That's quite and education.

He'd begun playing in clubs at about 15, when he and his older brother joined the Spencer Davis Group. He'd gone from there to form Traffic, and play on albums with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker. He did all that, before he and Clapton ever got around to recording Blind Faith in the summer of 1969.

After Winwood wowed us for a while, Clapton and the others came back up on stage, Winwood came up from around his organ and the band played an acoustic set. Clapton played flawlessly on an old blues number, and then wowed us with his now classic acoustic rendition of "Layla". Then, the moment I'd been waiting for, they blew me away with a classic version of "Can't Find My Way Home". Again, here's a taste (this time from the Crossroads Guitar Festival DVD).

It was wonderful to hear Clapton and Winwood play this classic tune. It's always been one of my very favorites. After that, Winwood went back to his organ and Clapton traded up for his electric guitar and they proceeded to knock my socks off again. It started with great renditions of old tunes like "Glad", "Pearly Queen", "Forever Man", and "After Midnight".

But I just couldn't friggin' believe my ears when Clapton stepped up to the mic and began noodlin' on the guitar and singing "I'm a voodoo chile. Lord knows, I'm a voodoo chile."

You could'a knocked me over with a feather! They went on to play an amazing rendition of the classic fifteen minute jam Vodoo Chile, from Jimi Hendrix's Electric lady Land album. Winwood played his B-3 on that jam in 1968, and covered most of the vocals on this newer version.

After singing the opening words, Clapton stood back and killed us, his fingers ranging up and down the neck of his guitar, goin' about 500 miles an hour. Don't ever let anyone tell you these old dudes have lost a step at all with age. They haven't! Here's a brief little clip, this one from the concert they played June 10th in East Rutherford New Jersey... The first gig of this current tour.

I guess I should have been payin' attention and known what was comin', but it was fun to be surprised the way I was.

After that the band put their instruments away and walked off stage, engaging in the old standard practice of the fake "we're outa here, bye." This gave us the signal that it was time to shower them with screams and applause, so they'd come back and play again. When they did, Winwood came up from behind the B-3 and played the ass off his guitar on a rendition of the old classic "Cocaine". It can be quite a surprise to fans, seeing him play the guitar so well. He's so closely associated with the organ.

In the end, the crowd went wild in appreciation as the band came up and took their final bow. You can see the joy in this shot. Everyone there was sure they'd seen something special. The concert exceeded all my expectations. The seats were well worth the cost. It was another night I'll remember for the rest of my life. If any of you have the chance, I'd recommend you catch these guys the next time they slide by ya.



RT said...

Oh Yeah ..... that had to be a cool experience.

I cant think of a better way to drop $600 on a Tuesday night.

Great Post!!

BRUNO said...

Be a cold day in hell, indeed, before I'd pay that much for a night out!

Holy geez---that's a months' worth of groceries for me an' the wife. Hell, that's ALMOST a full-set of four tires!

But, with that being said---each of us has his own "hang-ups" when it comes to entertaining him or herself.

At least you DID enjoy it, so it wasn't a total waste, for certain! Carry on, dude......!!!

AirmanMom said...

what an amazing concert!
Wow...nothing else to say!

Kevin said...

Good Lord! $550?! Man, I'm in the wrong business! Sounds like it was a blast though. I don't go in for concerts much myself, although I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Eurythmics on their Peace tour however many years ago that was...

PRH....... said...

Damn, those guys look old! And being 60, I know what old is...and they is.

Suldog said...

Very cool. I saw Winwood many years back, with Traffic. I've yet to see Clapton :-(