Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood - Verizon Center - June 13

Went down to the Verizon Center on Saturday night to catch Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood with the family, Libby, and those damn McPhersons. I've never seen Eric Clapton (aka "God") before so this was a special treat for me. As someone else on the Internet pointed out, the show could be divided into three sections:

The Good Stuff - The first side of the Blind Faith album ("Had to Cry Today", "Well Alright", "Presence of the Lord"), several Traffic classics ("Glad", "Pearly Queen" although I really missed the sax on that one) and several other great tunes. "Tough Luck Blues" had some truly amazing guitar work by EC and they did a really spectacular jamming version of "Little Wing".

Then there was the Acoustic part of the show, first with Steve Winwood alone at the organ doing "Georgia", then Eric sitting down with the acoustic guitar and doing "Driftin' ", "Nobody knows When You're Down and Out", "Layla" and Clapton/Winwood together doing a beautiful "Can't Find My Way Home".

Closing out the show, they rocked out on the Crowd Pleasers, "Crossroads", "Voodoo Chile", and "Cocaine". Clapton certainly can wail on the guitar with innovative solos and inspirational runs. Winwood's vocals and Hammond organ playing are also top notch. This show was all about the music, as the only interaction with the audience was a quick "Thankyou" by Clapton after each song and Winwood at one point said "Thanks for coming out, this is fun". I thought it was rather rude that they never bothered to introduce the other band members. The encore was "Dear Mr. Fantasy" another great Traffic song (that we heard the Dead perform last month).

But the concert was put together well, two fine musicians with a great catalog of songs, overall a top notch performance.

A final non-musical note, there was a pyscho woman sitting right in front of us who was talk-talk-talking with her date through the first part of the concert, finally when Winwood was softly singing "Georgia", the Bird leaned down and "shusshed" her. This woman got all ticked off firing invectives and insults back to the Bird, but she finally settled down and watched the rest of the show. Then during the encore when we were all standing and dancing, psycho woman couldn't take it anymore and turned around and started really bitching and insulting the Bird. Even the folks in the row behind us were taken aback and everyone started telling her to shut up. I can't imagine what makes someone act like that especially in such a friendly musical environment. Oh well.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

John Prine/Steve Earle - Wolf Trap - June 5

I've seen John Prine many times (and many of those times at Wolf Trap). Walking in we talked of our dear old friend Mark, who would rarely venture out to concerts, but would always buy tickets for this show as soon as they went on sale. Mark's stories and poems are similar to John's songs in that you know that some of them are going to make you really sad and you know that some of them are going to make you laugh out loud. 

Mark would have enjoyed Friday's show and because you go expecting to see him play many of the great songs from his deep catalog of classic and Prine did not disappoint us.  It had been some time since I had been to Wolf Trap and I had almost forgotten what a beautiful venue it is and what great sound they deliver. I sat in a balcony box for Steve Earle, then moved down below to the orchestra section for John Prine. Sound was great in both locations. Fortunately the week long rain had come to an end and the weather was comfortable.

Steve Earle started the show playing guitar and singing. His latest album is a tribute to the late songwriter Townes Van Zandt and most of the set consisted of Van Zandt songs. I'm not as up to speed on either Townes Van Zandt or Steve Earle as perhaps I should be, but it was a very nice set of songs. I particularly liked "Pancho and Lefty" which has also been covered by Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and Old and in the Way (on their "Old and in the Gray" album). You hear Steve Earle regularly on Sirius XM's "Outlaw Country", in fact he has a show on that channel called "Hardcore Troubadour Radio".  Often Steve records with a full band and I think that presents him and his songs in a better setting, but no complaints about Friday's solo acoustic set.

John Prine played in a trio with Dave Jacques (bass) and Jason Wilber (guitars and mandolin) and as mentioned every song felt like a putting on a comfortable old slipper. He did 3 or 4 songs in the middle of the set without backup and there was one song that we had not heard him do in concert before, "Bad Boy", which was quite good. John was in fine spirits and filling the space between songs with interesting tid bits and observations. "Angel from Montgomery" was great, but it always is, and he brought Steve Earle out to sing and play mandolin for the encore "Muhlenberg County".

Sitting between two beautiful women, listening to two great singer songwriters on a lovely spring evening at Wolf Trap Park. One show worth remembering.