Arts

Clapton is Still the Cream of the Crop

Music Legend Recently Capped Off 50 years of Concerts at MSG

By: Eric Ransom

After a legendary musical career spanning over five decades, Eric Clapton may have played his last concert at Madison Square Garden.

The guitarist/singer/songwriter completed two performances at the World’s Most Famous Arena on September 7-8, the second to last stop in what could be his final tour.

It was the latter concert that may very well be the end of the line for Slowhand to be performed at MSG, providing one last chance for New Yorkers to gaze upon the guitar legend before he rides off into the sunset.

Clapton, 74, is undoubtedly one of the most important guitarists and musicians in music history, stringing together countless hits across five bands and a successful solo career, spanning over 50 years.

Despite his age, Clapton shined, engaging in a riveting yet laid back performance of classic blues, and timeless hits from the likes of his former bands, Cream and Derek and the Dominoes.

Fans were left reassured that he’s “still got it”, blasting his wailing guitar sound through a sea of astounded patrons.

The bluesman drew a rather hefty crowd on Friday, September 8, filling an arena of locals and travelers excited to see Clapton perform for quite possibly the last time at MSG. The onlookers were mostly past their primes, but full of love for Clapton as always.

The Clapton fans sang along and celebrated his career, soaking in every moment they could, knowing it may be the last time they ever see him again.

After performing at MSG last March, and at the Royal Albert Hall in London in May, the “Layla” singer unleashed a polished yet powerful attack on guitar, still proving that age is just a number to Clapton.

With his best days behind him, his groundbreaking skills on the guitar were nostalgic yet ageless, and breathtaking to see in person.

Concern for Clapton arose earlier this year when it was revealed he was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, a nerve disease in which the nerves in the hands will burn or tingle, causing pain and discomfort. This diagnosis has Clapton claiming that playing the guitar is “hard work.”

Questions arose whether Clapton could continue performing, and that his career would be abruptly over, yet he remains on the stage- at least for now.

Opening for both of Clapton’s concerts was legendary Texas bluesman Jimmie Vaughan along with Grammy winning blues rock guitarist Gary Clark Jr.

Vaughan, 66, the older brother and inspiration to the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan, kicked off the show to a still filling crowd, serving blues licks from his Fender Stratocaster like he has for 40 years.

His performance paved the way for Gary Clark Jr., 33, and his mean blues rock style, which has netted him two Grammys.

On came Clapton, with his trademark dark blue Stratocaster, who’s setlist both nights included hits like “White Room”, “Cocaine” and Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff”, along with acoustic covers of “Layla” and “Tears in Heaven”.

Clapton’s absolute mastery of the six string was on full display, electric and acoustic, never missing a beat after all these years.

Clapton closed the show with an encore performance of “Sunshine of Your Love”, and promptly inviting Vaughan and Clark Jr. back on stage for an ensemble performance of “Before You Accuse Me” to officially close out the show after four hours of wonderful music.

Over the course of his illustrious career, Clapton has worked with music legends such as The Beatles, The Who, Bob Dylan, B.B. King and more recently, musicians like John Mayer and even Luciano Pavarotti in 1996.

A new documentary titled Eric Clapton- Life in 12 Bars will air on February 10, 2018 on Showtime, detailing the roller coaster life of Clapton like never before.

If this wasn’t his last concert at MSG, evidence supports the end is near, after the release of his album I Still Do last year.

Clapton commented on the release of the album, saying “I kind of might be saying goodbye.”

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