On Tuesday, April 2nd, Eric Clapton played the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC as part of his 50th anniversary tour. My father is a huge Clapton fan, so I decided to take him as a late birthday present of sorts. We were not disappointed.

Being an avid supporter of the Charlotte Bobcats, I am definitely not used to seeing Time Warner Cable Arena more than halfway full…especially with screaming fans. On this night, however, it was jam packed with an enthusiastic, vocal crowd full of people of all ages.

First up were The Wallflowers. Meh. It’s not that they weren’t that good…it’s just that the mix was terrible. The volume was pretty low for an arena, and all I could really hear was Jakob DyIan’s vocals over a blur of muffled sound. The crowd seemed to like them well enough though, and that’s all you really need for what amounts to an appetizer. I started to get a little concerned that the whole night would have the same sound problems, but my worries proved unfounded as they had it completely dialed in for Clapton.

I had seen him a few times before, and once again, he did not fail to amaze. Unlike most modern arena shows, there was no lip-synching, dance numbers, or costume changes…just a lot of great music. He never seems to hit a wrong note, and the solos just somehow dripped off the guitar.

One thing I really enjoyed is that he would often step back unselfishly and let someone else take the spotlight for a while. Doyle Bramhall II took the lead on quite a few songs and showed that he is a quite capable guitar hero in his own right.

Songwriter Paul Carrack was guest keyboardist for the night. As a nice change of pace, we were treated to a few of his hits as well – Ace’s “How Long” and The Squeeze’s “Tempted.”

To me, the highlight of the night was when they went into “Cocaine,” although it was admittedly a little weird screaming the chorus along with my father.

After an encore, they appropriately closed with a subdued cover of Joe Cocker’s “High Time We Went.”

While some people were later griping that he didn’t play many of his biggest hits – “Layla,” “After Midnight” etc. – I didn’t even realize he had left these out until the next day when people were asking me about them. The music he did play was good enough that I didn’t have time to worry about the songs he didn’t.

Recently, Clapton has been talking about retiring from touring, and this could have been the one of the last times I would have the opportunity to see him perform live. I feel extremely lucky to have had the chance.

All in all it was a great show… enough to make me forget about paying ten dollars per beer.

Eric Clapton newest album, Old Sock, is available now on Bushbranch/Surfdog records.

– Submitted by David Sheyda, Music Design