Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck O2 Arena London Sat Feb 13th

Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck The O2 Arena London Sat Feb 13th 2010

I couldn’t resist going to see this double bill. Not sure I would make the trip to London to see either separately in concert (although they are both great); but seeing them together was just too tempting.
I’ve seen Clapton many times over the years. He never fails to impress, but there have been times when I’ve felt he was just going through the motions. However, the last few times I’ve seen him (at Newcastle and Sheffield Arenas and at the Cream reunion in the Albert Hall) he seemed to me to be enjoying being up there again. His blues were back and he was playing guitar in a way that I hadn’t seen for many years.
Beck to me is something else. I first saw him at the Grangemouth festival in the early 70s when he was leading Beck, Bogart and Appice and I’ve seen him in Newcastle a few times since. He never disappoints; and (to me) he stands alone. He manages to produce sounds from his Strat that no other guitarist can; his use of tone and dynamics are outstanding.
So Clapton and Beck together in London at the O2 on a Saturday night. Should be great!
I take the train to London on Saturday afternoon and check into my hotel opposite Kings Cross Station. Have taken my laptop so I do some work, type some emails and then it’s off to the show. I get the tube to Greenwich and arrive at the O2 at around 7.30pm.
I buy a programme and take my cheap (£75 ouch!) seat in the upper tier (couldn’t justify paying £125 to be downstairs). The view is OK actually. Just after 8pm Jeff Beck and his band take the stage. He is accompanied by a full string section sitting to the left of the stage.
I can’t say that I am familiar with much of Beck’s material. It’s mainly instrumental and very jazzy, but mixes styles throughout. One minute we get rock, Hendrix, and then he becomes Hank Marvin, Les Paul and Santo and Johnny. Except its unfair to compare his music with any of those; Beck has his own style and sound. I much prefer the slower ballads. His instrumental version of The Beatles Day in the Life has to be heard to be believed. Joss Stone comes on and sings for a couple of songs and we also have an appearance by one of the Corrs who plays violin. The sound is surprisingly clear given the size of the arena. The mix of Jeff’s guitar, his band (who are great; particularly the lady on bass) and the strings fills the hall with great music. They leave the stage just after 9am and there is a short interval.
At around 9.20 Clapton and his band take the stage. The first few songs see Clapton seated with an acoustic guitar, singing the blues, accompanied by piano. After a few songs the rest of his band join, and we get I Shot the Sheriff, Cocaine, Wonderful Tonight and Crossroads. All played great, no surprises, with some pretty good solos from Eric. At around 10.20pm Eric and his band leave the stage for a few minutes.
They soon return, accompanied by Jeff Beck; and the two legends launch into some great blues and pretty tasty guitar work. They play a selection of old blues standards including Shake Your Money Maker, I Need Love, trading licks off each other. For me, Beck’s playing is much more interesting, and he steals the show. My highlight of the night is a great version of the old standard Moon River. It starts with some restrained and careful lead from Beck, and as the song develops Clapton takes the vocals. Eric always did have a soft spot for singing standards. It reminds me of when I saw him at Hammersmith Odeon in the mid 70s and he started the show with Charlie Chaplin’s Smile. I was surprised that a rock star would sing a ballad like that but it was also a high point of that show. They finish with Sly Stone’s Take You Higher and leave the stage around 11pm. Quite a few people leave to catch trains at this point. I make my way downstairs to catch a better view of any encore.
And what a surprise we get for the encore. I’ve never seen Beck play Hi Ho Silver Lining and never dreamed I would. The thought of him playing it tonight hadn’t even crossed my mind; I assumed it was almost a no-go area for him. But as I enter the lower tier I hear the familiar start to that tune. Clapton takes most of the vocal duties, with Beck taking a verse later on. 20,000 people sing along at the top of our voices. People are up and dancing all over the arena. Beck plays the solo as on the record; it sounds awesome. A perfect end; couldn’t be better.
So a great night, worth the trip for Day in the Life, Crossroads, Moon River and Hi Ho Silver Lining. I climb on a packed tube back to my little hotel room in Kings Cross.
Can’t wait for Clapton and Winwood at Wembley.

Jeff Beck set included: People Get Ready; A Day in the Life; I Put a Spell on You (with Joss Stone)

Eric Clapton set included: Driftin’ Blues; Layla (unplugged); Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out; Tell the Truth; Key To the Highway; Wonderful Tonight; I Shot the Sherriff; Cocaine; Crossroads

Jeff Beck & Eric Clapton together set included: Shake your money maker; Moon River; Outside Woman Blues; Little Brown Bird; You Need Love; I Want to Take You Higher
Encore: Hi Ho Silver Lining

Eric Clapton website:
Jeff Beck website:



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