Monday, January 21, 2019

Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood @ the United Center 6/17/09

Posted by shore On June - 18 - 2009

claptonwinwood1 @AndyShore In the pantheon of guitar gods, Eric Clapton is Zeus. It is quite possible that he is the best guitar player on the planet. Whether or not you believe that Clapton is a deity, I would like to thank the higher power that brought him and Steve Winwood back on stage together.


Formerly of the rock supergroup Blind Faith, these two have a rapport unmatched by most musicians. Whether playing rhythm guitar to Clapton’s lead or tickling the ivories, Winwood just knows how to make Clapton shine. Winwood’s voice provides the perfect compliment, as Clapton’s wailing guitar soars over the stadium. Having a plethora of bands and songs to choose from, the duo of superstars had the crowd eating out of their hands and begging for more all night.


After playing a couple songs, including “Low Down,” with Clapton on guitar, Winwood made his way over to the keys and had the whole stadium singing along to “After Midnight.” Soon after that, I had my first jaw dropping moment of the night (though it would soon become a theme). On “Glad,” Winwood dropped some of the most incredible solos I’ve ever heard on his grand piano. As the final notes of his solos wound down, Clapton would take over and knock a solo of his own out of the park. It was a one-two punch so strong, Mike Tyson wouldn’t know what hit him.


Pulling from their vast combined catalog, Cream got their due with “Crossroads.” Clapton and the rest of the band left Winwood alone on stage. He managed to make the spacious United Center seem intimate for an incredible cover of Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind.” They kept the mood going with Clapton and Winwood playing acoustic guitars together on a couple of all time classics. I still prefer the rock version of “Layla,” but their acoustic performance of “Can’t Find My Way Home” was so beautiful it sent chills throughout the crowd.


To close out the set, Clapton and Winwood played “Voodoo Chile” off of Electric Ladyland. In an attempt to show my dad that I actually learned something at college, I informed him that Winwood originally recorded the song with Jimi Hendrix at a late night session that also featured Jack Bruce on bass. The two of them traded monster solos all song long, with the back up singers caming in for the chorus in a way that made you want to throw your hands up in the air.


Clapton is a blues man through and through. He flashed his blues chops all night long. As Clapton and Winwood left the stage before the encore, you wouldn’t think that the blues could be done any more justice than it already had. Then they wheeled an additional amp onto the stage. The first thought that jumped into my mind was that Buddy Guy was about to join them on stage. I was proved correct moments later. A two song encore included “Sweet Home Chicago.” Clapton and Guy traded guitar licks that would put Gene Simmon’s tongue to shame as the United Center crowd rocked out to their hometown anthem.

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