Valuable quotes

"No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow." ~~

"The minute you start talking about what you're going to do if you lose, you've already lost." ~~

Cree Prophecy - "When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money." ~~

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Eric Clapton in the 'Burgh...

A lifelong dream of mine came true last Thursday night, February 25th when we battled to stay ahead of one of the worst blizzards of the year and get from Philly to Pittsburgh ahead of the storm. The goal was to see my guitar idol Eric Clapton who was going to be appearing at the dear old Igloo (Mellon Arena). Having missed the chance to see him a number of times already, I was very nervous it would happen again as they talked of record breaking snowfall the day before the concert.

Could we make the 300 plus mile trip before the storm hit? Well, we were about to find out because we were not going to be deprived of another opportunity to see him.
And see the Igloo for the last time too, because that wonderful old arena, the oldest in the NHL, was slated to also be torn down within the month.

So we left the Mustang in our garage, knowing better than to take it on a snowy trip and sliding off the road. Instead we hopped into my 15 year old Escort GT knowing that if we had any chance at all of making it to Pittsburgh, my Pokey was going to be the one to get us there.

~Pokey resting on Laurel Highlands

We arrived in the Burgh and had time to spare...the weather still holding strong in that fair city.

After getting settled and having something to eat it was off to the Igloo like we had done so many times while living there and going to so many Penguins games. It was so bittersweet being back, knowing I was going to see Eric for the first time in my life - and seeing the Igloo for my last time.

Roger Daltrey was appearing with Eric and opened the show with some of his older Who stuff but much of his stuff was new to the audience. He did many covers of other artists and endeared himself immediately with the crowd. Opening his portion with I Can See For Miles and The Real Me, he also did a Taj Mahal cover of Freedom Ride.
Levon Helm's song, Gimme A Stone was perhaps the favorite of the Daltrey set -

Finally, the moment everyone had come for. Eric strolled out on stage without any fanfare whatsoever, looking like a college professor dressed for a weekend visit to the market. He wore jeans, a plain blue button-down shirt and sneakers, his hair long, his manner quiet and unassuming.

When he played the opening chords of "Goin' Down Slow" he was suddenly transformed — as was I and the rest of the audience — through his brief 15-song, 90-minute set. The brevity of the show didn't matter. Like other singular artists — think Pavarotti, Baryshnikov or DeNiro — Clapton's talent defies description, and astounds even as it takes place before one's eyes. He seems almost lackadaisical in his approach to his craft, but the genius that emerges as his hands fly up and down the length of his guitar is astounding.

Four songs into the evening Clapton played "Old Love," an atmospheric, sweetly melancholic tune that featured one of his indescribable guitar solos. You start to think nothing would top this ... until the next song, a rousing version of "I Shot the Sheriff" which featured yet another breathtaking guitar solo. So went the entire evening. Even the obligatory acoustic run of songs, which featured "Driftin' Blues," "Nobody Knows When You're Down and Out," "Running on Faith" and "I've Got a Rock 'n' Roll Heart," transcended the usual limitations of such forays.

Instead of seeming indulgent, Clapton transformed the whole arena into an intimate club. The lighting - the general feeling given off - his quiet rapport with his listeners, made everyone feel that he was playing for them...only them. Everyone had "their" Clapton song and he accommodated most by giving them that. How do you top that?

Well, we are talking Eric Clapton here right? It's easy. He trotted out "Badge" from his tenure with Cream, and even though a keyboardist added some odd-sounding accompaniment (much to Clapton's amusement) the grandness of this magisterial song shone through. With another stunning solo unleashed, of course.

Clapton followed with sparkling versions of "Little Queen of Spades," "Before You Accuse Me," "Wonderful Tonight" and "Cocaine," the audience response increasing with each selection. And that was it! Suddenly it was over, save for a truncated, almost carnival-like version of "Crossroads" that ended the evening much, much too soon.

I wish I could have captured more video of this concert but to be honest, I was so wrapped up in what I was experiencing, I simply forgot to turn the Flip on when I maybe could have. However, I did get a few and will leave you with one....

So I had finally achieved the thing I've waited my entire life for. And now I want to do it again!

1 comment:

Rishona said...

Oh wow, so Eric has long hair again! I've heard about this concert (I live around Pittsburgh). I find it interesting that Clapton had one of the last events at the Civic Arena, and Paul McCartney had one of the first at the Consol Energy center (its replacement). True the "beef" was between Harrison & Clapton (who were fine in the end I believe)...but still...interesting.

I can't believe you drove from Philly to come though. I drive between here and NYC a bit...but for some reason, from here to Philly is a much worse trip. Most likely because you are on the PA turnpike for much longer! :-(

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