For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Reckless Eric

...I got a man with a slow hand/I got a lover with an easy touch/I found somebody who will spend some time/Not come and go in a heated rush Slow Hand THE POINTER SISTERS

The man variously called God, Slowhand, Del or Derek played Nottingham's Trent FM Arena last night. At 6.30 pm we spontaneously decided to go and see him. After all, it's not every day that the greatest blues-rock guitarist in the world performs just down the road. We'd only heard him live once before - guesting briefly at an early 1990s Bob Dylan gig at the Hammersmith Odeon (now Apollo). We managed to buy from the box office a couple of decent tickets for tiered seats half-way down the arena and to the left of the stage. It was pretty full, though there were some empty rows of seats near the back. (I believe it's more or less sold out for Dolly Parton in July.) It's a smaller space than many of the big concert stadia and all the better for it. I don't really like this kind of impersonal, unatmospheric aircraft hangar-like venue - though what choice have you got? The sound system was excellent and Clapton's pure, crystal-clear, unmistakable guitar licks soared sublimely heavenwards. Perhaps not as spiritual as Carlos Santana, but beautiful nonetheless. Clapton himself remained rather cool and inscrutable, except when Robert Randolph joined him on virtuoso pedal steel guitar in a blazing encore of Muddy Waters' Got My Mojo Working. The audience remained comatose throughout, but woke up near the end for the usual Clapton killer finale of Wonderful Tonight, Layla and Cocaine. And now it's Lou Reed to look forward to on Thursday. This live music obsession is becoming a drug...

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