There are not many performers that have lasted fifty years in the music industry, and even less than sound better than they did back when they began. One such artist is guitar "god" Eric Clapton who stopped by the Mohegan Sun arena on Friday night, on the eve of his Crossroads Guitar Festival in New York. Some musicians would have used this performance as a warm-up to their big event, but not Clapton. He pulled out all the tricks to perform a show for the ages.
The night began promptly on time with the opening band, alternative roots/rockers The Wallflowers featuring Jakob Dylan (Bob Dylan's son). Their 45-minute set mixed in songs from the band's latest album, "Glad All Over," including the opening song "The Devil's Waltz." They jammed to an extended version of their hit song "6th Avenue Heartache," but the biggest applause came at the end of their set for their performance of "One Headlight" and "The Difference."
With anticipations high, Eric Clapton walked out onstage to a standing ovation. As he picked up his acoustic guitar, his band followed his introduction to kick off the set with "Hello Old Friend." Clapton's guitar began heating up with the solo of his new song "Gotta Get Over," before diving into the blues with a cover of Albert Collins' "Black Cat Bone." The place was electrified with Clapton and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II trading solos during "Got To Get Better In A Little While," but it would be Clapton's solo that had jaws dropping to the floor. His surprised performance of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff" drew a huge applause from the sold-out arena.
His sit-down acoustic set was a nice break from the fiery electric guitars as they performed covers of "Driftin' Blues," and "Goodnight Irene." The highlight for fans was the emotional "Tears In Heaven" and a sing-along of "Wonderful Tonight." Keyboardist/singer Paul Carrack received the spotlight for his lead vocals of "Tempted" and "How Long" before Clapton paid tribute to blues legend Robert Johnson. Eric Clapton and his band performed a blazing rendition of "Love In Vain" and a pounding version of "Crossroads." If there were any doubters as to how good Clapton's guitar playing has become after 50 years, his solo during "Little Queen Of Spades" left all in awe. The set closed with the audience on their feet, dancing wherever they could to the hit single "Cocaine."
The two song encore began with one of Clapton's earliest hits from the band Cream as drummer Steve Jordan motored through "Sunshine Of Your Love." The two-hour and fifteen minute performance ended with Paul Carrack once again singing vocals on the Joe Cocker cover "High Time We Went." Fans waited to see if Clapton we return to the stage to perform his signature song, "Layla," but as the house light came on, the arena emptied with many satisfied with their experience of this living legend.
Setlist: Hello Old Friend, My Father's Eyes, Tell The Truth, Gotta Get Over, Black Cat Bone, Got To Get Better In A Little While, Tempted, I Shot The Sheriff, Driftin' Blues, Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out, Tears In Heaven, Goodnight Irene, Wonderful Tonight, How Long, Stones In My Passway, Love In Vain, Crossroads, Little Queen of Spades, Cocaine, Sunshine Of Your Love, High Time We Went