Monday, June 15, 2009

Many Thanks (and a couple of suggestions)

Dear Messrs. Clapton & Winwood,

Thank you for putting on one helluva show at the Verizon Center last Saturday.

Thank you for performing nearly the entire one-album catalog of Blind Faith songs, particularly for opening with a kick-ass version of I Had To Cry Today.

Thank you for reviving the Hammond B-3 organ, which took me back to such acts as Blind Faith, Strawberry Alarm Clock and Iron Butterfly.

Thank you for the little unexpected treats, such as Mr. Winwood's all-alone-on-the-stage rendition of Georgia On My Mind, which seemed so oddly out of place among all the psychedelia of the evening and yet worked so well.

I cannot begin to thank you enough for not subjecting your audience to any version of I Shot The Sheriff, which wasn't a particularly great song when Bob Marley first did it, but when performed by a middle-aged white guy from Surrey descends to the level of a "Weird Al" Yankovich parody.

Thanks also for not subjecting us to Wonderful Tonight or Tears In Heaven.

Thank you for not letting egos get in the way, thereby letting the two of you share the spotlight on songs that were originally done by one or the other. Ending the evening's songlist with Mr. Winwood's Dear Mr. Fantasy couldn't have been better chosen.

Thank you for that pretty incredible 10-minute rendition of Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Chile.

Props to the stage directors who set up cameras for the Jumbotrons so that we could occasionally see fingers flying over fretboards and keyboards.

Thank you for the stunning acoustic rendition of Can't Find My Way Home.

Although it's still nearly a month away, thanks for making my birthday a special one (and thanks to my wife and my good friend for the tickets).

Thanks for dedicating the evening strictly to the music. Two and a half hours of one song after another with pretty much no talk in between them. As each song ended, I found myself anxiously awaiting the opening chords of the next one.

I only have a couple of cavils about the whole evening. First, what was with that row of spotlights on the back of the stage that were shining directly into the audience's eyes? When those lights went bright white, we couldn't see the stage at all. Please keep in mind that your audience largely no longer consists of teenagers with young ears and eyes. We're a bunch of ridiculous old people wearing tie-dye.

Also, with regard to the slow, acoustic version of Layla.... well, I'm not quite sure how to put this diplomatically.... It sucks, Eric. I can understand that you may need a second guitarist of the caliber of Duane Allman to do the song justice and you didn't have that for this performance, but I really can't understand why you would choose to do an elevator-music version of such a classic piece of rock while omitting such gems as Bell Bottom Blues, Lay Down Sally, Promises, or any Yardbirds, Spencer Davis Group or Traffic tunes at all. You had two virtuoso keyboardists there, either of whom could have done amazing jobs on that long piano interlude. I would have loved to have seen Steve Winwood performing that.

Finally, having mentioned the sharing of songs earlier, I was struck by the paucity of Steve Winwood songs (aside from the Blind Faith stuff). I would have loved to have heard I'm A Man, While You See A Chance, Higher Love, Roll With It, Arc Of A Diver, and/or Gimme Some Lovin'.

I do understand that between the two of you, the catalog of songs is enormous and a concert covering all of these would have taken hours, but heck, I was willing to sit for hours.

All in all, though, it was a very special evening which, as I had hoped, focused heavily on Blind Faith. I never thought that I'd get a chance to see (half of) such a seminal, influential rock group as that. Despite the couple of picky criticisms above, it was an incredible evening of incredible music from two rock & roll legends.

I appreciate it.


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