Monday, May 26, 2008
As some of you know, my mother scored free tix to a private Eric Clapton concert in Atlantic City this weekend.
Now, I am familiar with Eric Clapton, and I know some of his music, and I even have one of his cd's but I'd never consider myself a 'fan'. I simply went because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the man considered one of the ultimate guitar players of the rock era, in the "Event Center", small venue. Plus, it was free.
We went down to Atlantic City Saturday morning, and had to pick, up the tickets. They changed both the location and time of the pickup. I got to the line (yes, they stand in line, but now I know why) and there were maybe 100 or so people ahead of us. We had to go into one of the nightclubs at the casino to pick them up, and it was the first time I was in one...I'm far too old, too fat and too clothed to go into those places LOL Once inside, the lines were broken down by you last initial, and we picked up the tix. They didn't look like tickets from ticketmonster. They were just glossy bookmarks that said ERIC CLAPTON with the date. I looked on the back and it said "SECTION 200" with a seat number. So I moseyed on over to the box office and checked out the seating chart. I was in the back of the floor section. Not too shabby when you consider the capacity was only around 2500.
We were told "the show begins at 8 PROMPTLY, so make sure you are IN YOUR SEAT by 8!" several times by those in the ticket pickup, so I had my kiester up there by 7:30. Come to find out, the "Event Center" was nothing more than their grand ballroom with temporary risers set up and a bunch of banquet chairs strung together in front of them. By banquet chairs, I mean those little scalloped back chairs they squeeze 10 of around tables at weddings. The kind not made to be comfortable, just functional.
Now, anyone who knows me knows I don't have an ass made for "functional". To say we were squished is an understatement. None of us knew where to put our arms, since we didn't know each other and decorum dictates that you not squeeze your neighbors bewb unless you know their name. Happily, the people next to us didn't show, so we spread our big butts out LOL
8:00 pm promptly came...and no Eric. People start chatting. The woman in front of me scored front rows at Newark for the Eagles the following night (hate her!) the one along side of me had a son in law who worked at PNC Art Center who said Clapton sucked the big one the night before at PNC. The tall girl on the other side of me knew the waiter we knew from Ballys. Yakkity Yakkity Yakkity. Mike Rowe would have loved it. So, it was pushing 8:20 and still no Eric. Tall girl decided she needed a drink (open bar for the big gamblers, don't ya know!) and when she came back in she said "NO WONDER he's not onstage...HE'S OUT THERE GETTING A DRINK!" :)
Anyway, 8:30 rolled around and the house lights finally went down. Eric Clapton stepped out on stage. Now, I'm not familiar with a whole lot of his work, to be honest. I know some songs by name, and others by sound, but the entire body of his work is too vast and too before my time truthfully. I knew the sound of the song he opened with, but not the song.
But from the opening chords, I was mesmerized.
I have never, in all of my life, heard anyone play guitar like Eric Clapton.
While I was expecting a lot of rock, what I got was a much more mellow blues oriented show. He switched guitars several times, and seemed to have a designated 'guitar wrangler" who took care of it all. He even did an acoustic set.
I was a tad bit disappointed when he didn't do the acoustic version of "Layla". However, when he broke into "Wonderful Tonight", he thoroughly redeemed himself for that. What an amazingly beautiful version!! And of course he did play the rock version of Layla, so all was right with the world.
I did kind of feel bad for him. Here he was playing, his heart out, putting emotions and feelings into his guitar playing. But, because this was an "invited guest" show, it was not a rabid Eric Clapton fan fest. Rather, it was a bunch of people, ranging in ages from I'd say late 70s-early 80s to about mid 40s. I was among the youngest there. The really old folks sat there for a song or two, then left. In the beginning, the response from the crowd was a mix of wild applause and reserved clapping.
As the disinterested went back to the casino to begin losing money toward the next invitation only show, those of us left started to really get into the show. I knew he was winding down when I heard "Running on Faith" and realized that it was the first song that I knew the name of. He was surely ending by playing his bigger hits. By the time he got to "Wonderful Tonight", the audience was singing and starting to come down from the risers to move to the front of the stage. When he closed with "Cocaine", everyone was singing along with him.
Here is the set list...the date is Sunday night's show (the paid audience...seat prices were $500 and $400 for floors (my seats were $400 ) and $300 & $200 for the risers, but when you factor in that it's only 2500 seats, it makes it worth it for a real fan to pay that for the intimate setting), but I do believe it was the same show we saw:
25 May 2008 Set List / The Borgata, Atlantic City NJ:
01. Motherless Children
02. Key To The Highway - EC started the song on slide, then switched guitars mid-song
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Little Wing
05. Outside Woman Blues
06. Double Trouble
07. Don't Knock My Love
09. Rockin' Chair
10. Motherless Child - EC used a 12 string Martin in open tuning with a capo at the 5th fret
11. Travelling Riverside Blues - EC used a black strat set up for slide with open tuning.
12. Running On Faith
13. Tell The Truth
14. Little Queen of Spades
15. Before You Accuse Me
16. Wonderful Tonight
19. I've Got My Mojo Working (with Robert Randolph)
Some random musings:
~Saw several older audience members who sat there with blank expression on their faces for most of the show. I doubt they knew who he was, and probably weren't even sure what kind of music he played when they got the tickets.
~Gamblers can be arrogant s.o.b's. The ticket distribution was random. Basically, the earlier you got there, the closer your seats. And yet, there were still some kicking up a fuss because they felt they should be closer than they were. Seriously, its a free ticket. Sit back and enjoy!
~Older women like Eric Clapton. There was one old gal behind me screaming WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! into my ear for half the show. Ouch. There was another who started dancing the second he came out and didn't stop until the show was over. She's a huge Clapton fan. At one point, a couple of random younger guys were dancing with her. It was too funny. I saw her the next day and she was STILL on a cloud LOL
~Eric Clapton is God. I said this to my friend after the show, and just found out tonight that that is actually a statement made by fans. If you said to me tomorrow "You want to go see Clapton?" I would say YES!!!
~MY MOTHER, who never likes anything, is now a fan of Eric Clapton. Enjoyed the show thoroughly!