March 9, 2010
The Arena At Gwinnett
Writing reviews for shows that I don't see in their entirety is not something I want to make a habit of doing. Since review tickets are becoming harder and harder to acquire, I'm afraid it's something that will become necessary on occasion. After having checked with other friends (and some online blogs), I feel confident in doing a "review" for this particular gig as my impressions (from the songs I witnessed) appear to be spot-on with what the majority of attendees thought about the complete show.
Roger Daltrey casually walked out onto the stage as an opener. He even pointed out before beginning to play that it was an odd sensation to not be the headliner and added that the last time he had opened for anyone before this tour was for The Rolling Stones way back in another millennium.
He didn't let the strangeness of the situation slow him. Daltrey and his band truly attacked that opening slot. “I Can See For Miles” has rarely been performed by The WHO, but the 66-year old rocker proved it's a vital and strong live song, effecitively setting up the rest of his show. Things really took off for “The Real Me”, with the band nailing it. Granted, the group features Pete Townshend's brother Simon doing a lot of Pete's harmonies, so the sound is familial, if not exact. A Celtic-tinged cover of Taj Mahal's “Freedom Ride” managed to stand on its own, even between “The Real Me” and the stone-cold Who's Next classic “Behind Blue Eyes”.
To me, even better than Daltrey instantly proving wrong that his voice isn't still there, was his attitude. He seemed so relaxed, so amiable, so happy. His smile was contagious. It's funny, I've seen The WHO a few times and rarely heard Roger speak. Pete was always the one chatting. I assumed that Roger didn't have much to add or didn't like talking. Boy, was I wrong. He was amiable, open and, if anything, talking too much for such a short set. His opening set also featured “Who Are You” and closed out with “Baba O'Riley”, which I didn't get to see, but was told were standouts. All I could think was, how can you follow your opening act closing with “Baba O'Riley” and it not being a cover! Eric Clapton's work was cut out for him.
Roger Daltrey set list (March 9, 2010):
Unfortunately for the fans that had paid an average of $100 per ticket, Clapton didn't work at all. He did the minimum that could be done and left it at that. During his opening song, “Going Down Slow”, the P.A. mains went out, leaving the audience to hear only a quiet and distant echo from the onstage monitors. Very little could be made out. It can't be good to have booing before the first tune is done, especially for a performer once known as “God”. “Key To The Highway” at least showed a little spark, but it was dim. Eric just didn't seem to be enjoying himself. Maybe it was the lack of having a second guitarist with which to spar, I don't know. The 2 songs I saw in their entirety looked like a once-great artist going through the motions. I was actually glad that I didn't have tickets.
I don't feel like I can “review” the rest of the show since I didn't see it, but I did look over many, many online fan reviews and the consensus was clear. With only a few brief moments of inspiration or passion, Clapton was a lackluster and disappointing affair. Most complained about the shortness of the set (He started at 8:45 and was finished by 10:15.), the lack of hits or the lack of connection with the audience. With a back catalog and talent as undeniable as Clapton's, it's a shame. And when you have Steve Gadd on drums and Willie Weeks on bass, it's even more inexcusable to have a show this dull from such a star as Eric Clapton.
The most interesting aside I heard was that during Daltrey's opening set, Eric Clapton tweeted, “ Having Daltrey open...he's on fire...never again."
Perhaps that says more than I can.
Tonight, "God" was upstaged by “Baba O'Riley”.
Eric Clapton set list (March 9, 2010):
01. Goin' Down Slow
02. Key To The Highway
03. Tell The Truth
04. Old Love
05. I Shot The Sheriff
06. Drifin' (acoustic)
07. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out (acoustic)
08. Running On Faith (acoustic)
09. I've Got A Rock ‘n Roll Heart (acoustic)
11. Before You Accuse Me
12. Little Queen Of Spades
13. Wonderful Tonight
Chris McKay / concertshots.com