For his encore at Madison Square Garden ~ above Sunday night, Eric Clapton reconvened all four of the guitarists that had lugged on as guests in the display for a climactic tear with “High Time us Went,” the Joe Cocker song. Their solos ran under the line, short but full of separating traits: shapely however biting because that Doyle Bramhall II; ecstatic but measured for john Mayer; flinty and also raw because that Jimmie Vaughan; fluid and also singing because that Derek Trucks.

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But there to be no solo by Mr. Clapton, who stood off to one side with a Fender Stratocaster, dealing with the others at times choose an encouraging scout leader. That radiated satisfaction and security, basking in the warm of a guitar-centric brotherhood and his exalted place in it. Why spoil every that with his own exertion? no a gracious host let rather do most of the talking, even as he takes his seat in ~ the head the the table?

Mr. Clapton had a commemorative hook because that this show, and for an all-but-identically plotted one in the same arena ~ above Friday. He turned 70 in late March; these were his only tour dates prior to a series of concerts in the comes weeks at the royal Albert room in London. “Thank you for coming out and also helping me come celebrate this wonderful birthday,” he said at the top of the encore, in the evening’s solitary nod come the occasion.

By all various other measures, notwithstanding the guests, the display was organization as usual for Mr. Clapton, whose mature performance format has always suggested a grasp clinician more than a showman. His tape is stocked through longtime associates who excel at laying firm bedrock, favor the bassist Nathan East and the drummer Steve Gadd.


A pair of elevator singers, Michelle John and Sharon White, bolstered Mr. Clapton’s choruses, while chris Stainton fleshed the end the band’s sound ~ above piano. Paul Carrack did part stirring job-related on organ, and he took a soulful vocal command on a pair of songs, “High Time us Went” and another Cocker staple, “You room So Beautiful.” (Mr. East stepped the end front, too, acquisition Steve Winwood’s command vocal on the Blind belief song “Can’t uncover My method Home.”)

Mr. Clapton drafted his collection list as a pledge the allegiance: His very own songs developed a decimal amid consist of of his blues totems, consisting of Bo Diddley, Johnny Moore, Willie Dixon and also Muddy Waters. But due to the fact that Mr. Clapton has been travel this road so long, those obtained blues additionally qualify as beloved fixtures of his catalog.

Two of his ideal moments come on a pair the Robert Johnson tunes he has actually memorably recorded: “Crossroads,” with winningly gruff singing and also a stomping cadence; and “Little Queen the Spades,” through lapidary guitar interjections end a slow, circuitous triplet beat.


Elsewhere, Mr. Clapton took what felt like a dutiful tour v his fight parade, blazing through Bob Marley and also the Wailers’ “I shoot the Sheriff” and bringing a an ext unfortunate lite-reggae lilt come his ballad “Tears in Heaven.” He play “Layla” in an arrangement similar to the one on his 1992 album “Unplugged,” however with a more unpredictable and also expressive acoustic etc solo. “Wonderful Tonight” was warmed-over treacle, and an inconvenient reminder the the constriction that age has implemented on Mr. Clapton’s voice.

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Predictably, provided his recorded history and his more recent stewardship the the Crossroads etc Festival, Mr. Clapton perked increase every time that had one more guitar player onstage. Mr. Mayer brought a respectfully assertive visibility to “Pretending,” and Mr. Vaughan — Stevie beam Vaughan’s enlarge brother, and at 64, basically Mr. Clapton’s peer — was workmanlike but likably punchy top top “Before You accuse Me.”


Even far better was a version of “Let that Rain,” indigenous Mr. Clapton’s self-titled 1970 studio debut, special Mr. Bramhall and also Mr. Trucks. Both guitarists have actually toured in Mr. Clapton’s bands, and their easy familiarity to be an evident asset. Mr. Trucks especially, there is no his customary slide, functioned up to an incantatory outflow. And also this time, Mr. Clapton joined the fray: unpressured and unhurried, yet compelling every the same.