Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood at the United Center

As I sat listening to Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood play at the United Center last week, I started planning out what I might say about the show for this blog entry. But a lot of the descriptions and phrasing that ran through my mind seemed familiar -- like I'd already written the exact same things before. Lo and behold, after searching through my 'A to e' posts I found that I did in fact write about a Clapton concert back in 2006. Sometimes it is really unnerving to have such an awful memory.

Anyway, while three years ago I saw Clapton by himself and he played a lot of his most popular songs, this time around he reunited with his Blind Faith bandmate Steve Winwood and they focused on old blues standards. This probably made anyone who appreciates "good music" and/or superior guitar-playing really happy, but I was sorely disappointed. Over the course of about two and a half hours, I only knew two Clapton songs: 'After Midnight' and the slow, acoustic version of 'Layla' (which I don't like nearly as much as the original version). I kind of recognized 'Forever Man,' and then covers of 'Georgia on My Mind' and 'Sweet Home Chicago' were the only other tunes I was familiar with that evening. That equates to five songs I knew in 150 minutes!

The legendary Buddy Guy came out for the encore and sang along to 'Sweet Home Chicago' and then helped draw the show to a close with 'Drowning on Dry Land' (the entire set list is here, if you're interested). I've seen Buddy pop up at a few other concerts before (like with John Mayer at the Taste of Chicago in 2007) and he always steals the show. Clapton and Winwood's voices were cracking and fading a bit and I chalked it up to the fact that they're both in their sixth decade, but then along comes Buddy Guy, who's 72) and blows them both out of the water with his loud, commanding, powerful-as-ever pipes.

Although I'm probably giving off the impression that I didn't enjoy the show, let me be clear that I did -- I simply wish that more of the Clapton and Winwood songs I know and love had been played. Hell, the concert was free, we had box seats, and I got an awesome chocolate and caramel-covered apple from the infamous "dessert cart" on top of getting to relax for once, so I'm not complaining.

And even though Steve Winwood played absolutely none of his solo hits from the '80s, this concert helped remind me of all of them, and so the next day I downloaded 'Valerie,' 'Back in the High Life Again,' 'Roll With It,' 'Higher Love,' 'The Finer Things' and 'Don't You Know What the Night Can Do' -- a song which I absolutely loved back in the day but had completely forgotten about -- from iTunes.

Since I didn't get to hear DYKWTNCD live, the next best thing is its video from 1988, so I'll leave you with that. Extra points to anyone who can remember the Michelob commercial set to this song in that same year!


Two of Us! said...

I am disappointed every year when Steve Winwood doesnt tour by himself; last year he was with Tom Petty.

Anonymous said...

I happened upon this blog by accident and just had to say something. If you don't know any of the songs they play in a set that long, it's your own fault. You don't know anything about music girl! I bought the MSG Live DVD and loved every song. Expand your horizons beyond '80s tunes, honey!

Anonymous said...

One more thing, how could you possibly not know "Dear Mr. Fantasy", "Can't find My Way Home", "Had to Cry Today", "Presence of the Lord", and probably every other song they did. Incredible!