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Published: 2015/11/09
by Larson Sutton

Eric Clapton _Slowhand at 70: Live at the Royal Albert Hall_

Countless times since his debut over 50 years ago Eric Clapton has professed his love of blues music and his desire to insert it into any song he performs, irrespective of the tune’s stylistic leanings. So when it came time to honor the guitarist’s 70th birthday- celebrated at his favorite of venues, London’s Royal Albert Hall- it comes as expected that he has flooded the track list of this DVD/CD package with a career’s worth of examples. Whether on the countryside rambling of ill-fated supergroup Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” or Brit-reggae interpretations of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” through the ‘90s gloss of “Tears in Heaven,” ‘70s arena rock “Layla,” and incidental wedding dance balladry of “Wonderful Tonight,” the string-bending Slowhand expels his pain with blue note after wrenching blue note. Powered by an ace backing band that shares in the heavy lifting, he attacks many of those mournful numbers with the team effort of backing singers Michelle John and Sharon White, a duo that lends a drop of gospel to the punch. Yet, above all, it’s Clapton’s searing Strat that gets the last and loudest word; an ageless facility on guitar enabling him to surmount the highest of professional pinnacles as it has consoled him through the personal aches of addiction, heartbreak, and loss. At 70 and always, Eric Clapton has the blues, just as the blues will always have him.

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