Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck @ The O2 Arena

Saturday 13th February 2010

Settling down in my seat, bursting with excitement at the prospect of the evening ahead I could not wait for the show to get underway. Not being in the seats which come with warnings for those who suffer from Vertigo was a pleasant surprise and also showcased just how much money there is to be made from playing the O2 arena.

After what felt like ice ages (actually 45 minutes) of eager anticipation. Jeff Beck, the 60’s Legend and guitar virtuoso strode confidently to centre stage to the rapture of the sell out crowd. He proceeded to mesmerize and shine with what can only be described as totally bonkers guitar playing technique.

Using only his thumb and his whammy bar he casts a spell of absolutely beautiful melodies, unknown to most but still incredibly melodic and impressive. In fact the only songs easily recognisable from his entire set was  the soul classic I Put A Spell on You, with guest vocalist Joss Stone and a magnificant cover of The Beatles A Day In The Life with his guitar singing the pitch perfect vocal harmonies.

Beck has always been a master at warping the guitar sound into new and exciting directions. His mastery of the whammy bar is unparalleled producing the most emotionally resonating melodies I’ve heard outside of a full orchestral swell (he also had his own small string section backing for most of the set).

This was a tough act to follow but who better to take the task than another 60’s legend, blues guitar virtuoso and songwriter of some of the 20th century’s finest songs…old slow hand himself, Eric Clapton. Taking stage suited and booted he lookedalmost exactly the same as 30 years previous only with greyer hair.

Taking a seat he made a lot of fans happy by starting out on his trusty acoustic guitar. His skills are still impeccable as he played though classic tunes including the mellow tones of Nobody Knows When You’re Down And Out and a poignant Runnin’ On Faith. An early show stopping tune arrived in the shape of Layla, played with such fragile beauty and an awesome bluesy swagger. Standing up he switched to his signature Fender Stratocaster, ready to amp up proceedings.

Upping the stakes as well as the sound, the plugged set was just as impressive as the unplugged with highlights coming thick and fast, most notably in the shape of the reggae cover of I Shot The Sherriff and the uber-ballad Wonderful Tonight But the pinnacle of the set was when he really turned back the clock to reprise some of his Cream days. Absolute classic guitar tracks Cocaine and Crossroads captured the spirit of 60’s rock and roll with plenty of blues aura, psychadelic pianos and nifty guitar runs to boot. With these tunes he exited on a high…not for long though.

With the apart section of the show done, Eric & Jeff banded together for the last segment of the show. This can only be described as awe inspiring! Seeing 2 of the globe’s finest guitar exponents, innovators and genre defining artists on the same stage is impressive in itself. The only measure of age visible was the creases in Becks precious hands and Clapton’s slowly greying mane. They traded guitar lines and jammed over some true old school bluesy numbers including Shake Your Money Maker and a stunning cover of Sinatra’s Moon River. Beck despite his departure from the blues scene can still mix it with Clapton and the combo was breathtaking.

For a brief encore both Eric & Jeff returned to perform Jeff’s most famous tune! For which he apologised to the crowd by saying “Eric made me do this!” before launching the O2 into song with Hi Ho Silver Lining. A cheesy by fun ending to a staggering show

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