Tag Archives: Eric Clapton

Top Ten Gigs

Over the last week or so I have attempted to write down a list of artists I have seen perform live. My memory is not what it used to be, but I managed to recollect over 140 gigs by more than 80 different artists. No wonder I suffer from tinnitus!

I decided I would list ten of my favourite live gigs and then realised how hard it would be to narrow it down to ten! Regardless, here is my attempt, but I made it easier on myself by listing them in no particular order.

B.B. King

B.B. King performing live December 12, 1989 in Paris.

I was fortunate enough to see B.B. King perform live at the Canberra Theatre on 7th February 1989. I was 20 years old. A colleague in his early 60s was there as were many young women and men in their late teens/early 20s. This was an eye-opener for me in that a musician could appeal to such a diverse audience. His performance was sublime and he was generous in his distribution of guitar picks to the crowd.

hunnas june 86

A promotional photo of Hunters & Collectors, June 1986.

Hunters & Collectors performed live at the ANU Bar, a venue that no longer exists, on 25th May 1986. I was under-age at the time but the people on the door at this gig weren’t overly vigilant on checking ID so luckily I managed to sneak in. A fantastic live performance from a band I would go on to see live another 6 times. They were ably supported by Cattletruck, a band I really enjoyed as well and I have their one and only album on CD these days, after originally owning it on cassette.

u2

Zoo TV was recorded live in Sydney in 1993 and I was there!

I grew up listening to U2’s music, and I found it enjoyable despite Bono’s over-the-top personality and ego. For me, it was always about the music. Getting to be there on the night they broadcast their Zoo TV gig around the world via satellite, 27th November 1993, was a truly memorable experience.

Concert ad

I have been a Pink Floyd fan for decades and was grateful to have the chance to see him live on 10th February 2018 in Melbourne. It was a gig my brother-in-law quite rightly dubbed “an almost religious experience”, as we were treated to 4 or 5 from his latest solo album dispersed amongst classic Pink Floyd tracks.

springsteen

Bruce Springsteen, live in Sydney 2003.

I am grateful I got to see the classic lineup of the E Street band perform live on The Rising tour with Bruce Springsteen on 22nd March 2003. Particularly as saxophonist Clarence Clemons and organist Danny Federici have since died. The performance that night was electric, despite the power cutting out four times, and we got to see a show that ran for more than three and a half hours. Brilliant!

Kiss

KISS performing live on their reunion tour, 1997.

Getting to see the original lineup of KISS perform live on 6th February 1997 on the Reunion Tour was a life-long dream come true. I have seen them live a couple of times since, with varying lineups, but nothing compares to the original lineup, despite what Gene and Paul would have you believe.

Iron_Maiden

Iron Maiden live, 2011.

I have seen Iron Maiden live in concert three times. They were actually the first band I ever saw perform live! Their best performance, of the three, was at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on the Final Frontier Tour on 24th February, 2011. They were absolutely amazing and Eddie was in fine form too!

clapton

Eric Clapton live at the Royal Albert Hall in December 1990.

Another of my favourite artists of all time is Eric Clapton. I remember cueing up early to get tickets on the Saturday morning they went on sale, this was in the days before online booking. The line went back a block and a half and I got there two hours early! I had previously spent many hours sweet talking the sales person at the ticket outlet and had managed to reserve myself a concert poster. It still has pride of place in the hallway of my home. The gig date was 10 November 1990 at the Royal Theatre in Canberra and I didn’t get to see him live again for another 20+ years!

albert

The Master of the Telecaster, Albert Collins

I managed to see another blues legend live in concert at the Canberra Theatre on 7th September 1992. My hopes beforehand were very high in regard to the quality of his performance and needless to say, he exceeded my expectations. Infamous for his walks through the crowd with an exceedingly long guitar lead, Albert Collins did exactly that. I will never forget seeing the “Master of the Telecaster” live in concert. Phenomenal!

gabriel

Peter Gabriel performing live on the Secret World Tour

I was in Adelaide for the WOMADelaide festival of music and dance in 1993. On the Friday night, 19th February, I was witness to Peter Gabriel’s first ever live Australian performance. A rehearsal performance that went for over an hour, 24 hours ahead of the full performance on the Saturday night. It felt intimate, warm and just musically complete. The following night’s performance was equally as good. It was about 12 months later, 1st March 1994 to be precise, when I saw the same band perform at the Sydney Entertainment Centre with the full show as the multimedia experience it had become. Although still a great show, it was a completely different experience and I think I preferred the more intimate WOMADelaide gigs. The whole WOMADelaide expperience was wonderful and Peter Gabriel was one of many fantastic acts I saw perform during the festival.

Well that’s ten of my favourites, but I’m sure if you asked me another time I’d probably think of a different ten!

 

 

 

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Sixties Guitar Masters

Welcome once more to my on-again off-again blog. Despite my best intentions to post more regularly, sometimes, sadly, life gets in the way. This post follows on from my post on Fifties Guitar Masters as we move on to the next decade.

The 1960s was a decade of unprecedented development in terms of recorded popular music and an era of constant change. Naturally this was a fertile breeding ground that created a whole new generation of innovative guitarists.

hank-marvin

Hank Marvin

Kicking off the 60s it would be hard to go past the legendary Hank Marvin. With The Shadows he virtually defined the sound of the guitar in the early part of the decade and was an inspiration to many who came after him.

Choice Pick: check out the international chart-topper “Apache” released in July 1960

jimi-hendrix-07

Jimi Hendrix

You couldn’t have a list of guitarists from the 1960s without including Jimi. Renowned for being so extraordinarily gifted that the guitar was considered an extension of his body, his recordings are as exemplary as they are limited. For a career so brief he certainly shone brightly.

Choice Pick: Hard to go past his cover version of  Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower”  originally released in September 1968. Even Mr Zimmerman considered it the definitive version of his tune.

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Eric Clapton

The first of three incredible guitarists to have a stint in The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton’s career has been like no other. The amount of different genres he’s covered during his career combined with his longevity can only lead one to conclude that he is peerless. Just list the bands he’s been in and any one of them would look good on a guitarist’s c.v. The Yardbirds, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Cream, Derek and the Dominos and his solo stuff too!

Choice Pick: For me his finest hour was the Derek and the Dominos period, but his solo on Cream’s live version of “Crossroads”, from 1968’s Wheels Of Fire, is one of the finest ever.

jeff-beck

Jeff Beck

The second Yardbirds guitarist to feature in this list and one who has a very unique playing style. From his faux-slide playing using only his hands and a whammy bar, to doing away with a pick sometime during the 1980s, he has certainly developed his own “signature sound” on more than one occasion.

Choice Pick: “Beck’s Bolero”, the B-side to his 1967 single “Hi Ho Silver Lining”, displays his talents exceptionally well. The recording featured the Who’s Keith Moon on drums and future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.It was during the sessions for the tracks that would form Beck’s first solo album, Truth, that Page first heard the term “lead zeppelin”.

jimmy-page

Jimmy Page

Which brings us to Jimmy Page, the third of the guitarists from The Yardbirds to feature in this post. Page formed Led Zeppelin from the debris of The Yardbirds, even to the point of going out on their first tour as The New Yardbirds, to meet some outstanding contractual obligations.

Choice Pick: Hard to go past the blistering “Whole Lotta Love” from Led Zeppelin II, released in 1969.

peter-green

Peter Green

Clapton’s replacement in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers came with a unique sound and style all his own. He also founded Fleetwood Mac by convincing first Mick Fleetwood, then John McVie, to join him. Sadly, his drug use caused many years of decline during the 70s and 80s, before returning in the 90s better, yet not quite what he was in his youth.

Choice Pick: His work on the John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers track, “The Super-Natural”, released on A Hard Road in 1968, is nothing short of spine-tingling.

frank-zappa

Frank Zappa

Q: Has their ever been a guitarist like Frank Zappa?

A: Yes, his name is Dweezil.

Choice Pick: Hard to go past the 1969 Mothers Of Invention single “My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama”.

keith

Keith Richards

Keith earns the nickname Keef Riffhard for a reason. His riffs are second to none. He’s been known to wake in the middle of the night, strum a riff into a tape recorder by the side of his bed, then roll over and go back to sleep. He then listens the next day to decide if the riff is a keeper or not. Its where the riff for “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” came from and many more.

Choice Pick: “Sympathy For The Devil” from 1968’s Beggars Banquet, the beginning of a four-album golden period, in my humble opinion.

santana

Carlos Santana

Carlos built a reputation for himself after his blistering performance with Santana at Woodstock in 1969. The unheard-of band were included as a favour to promoter Bill Graham, who insisted after being called in to help with logistics and planning for the event.

Choice Pick: “Soul Sacrifice” from debut album, Santana, released in 1969, is an excellent example of his work, although the studio version doesn’t capture the wild majesty of the Woodstock performance.

albert_king

Albert King

Albert King was blessed with two things. Precocious talent and the Stax house band, Booker T & the MGs. Recording together on his second studio album, his first for Stax, saw the creation of one of the definitive blues albums of the decade.

Choice Pick: “Born Under A Bad Sign”, the title track from the aforesaid album, released in 1967.

 

 

The Support Slot: Make Or Break?

The support slot, for a band with a lesser profile than the headlining artist, can be a real boon for a musician or band. But it can also be the kiss of death. A headlining artist wants a good support act that can help warm up the crowd but yet not overshadow the main act. The support act welcomes the opportunity to strut their stuff for an audience generally much larger than what they could pull on their own. Sometimes the support acts are carefully chosen and compliment the musical style of the headline act and at other times they can be so incongruous as to create an ambivalent or even impatient crowd.

Dark Fair live supporting They Might Be Giants

Dark Fair live supporting They Might Be Giants

Dark Fair, were an act I saw recently supporting They Might Be Giants. As They Might Be Giants are quirky New Yorkers who are all about servicing melody, a punk pop duo were a strange choice and were not enthusiastically received. In another context they may have had an entirely different reception. Others that I thought were a mismatch over the years include Machine Gun Fellatio supporting KISS and 80s one hit wonders the Allniters supporting fading 60s modsters the Troggs.

Grinspoon, an inspired choice to support KISS.

Grinspoon, an inspired choice to support KISS.

Sometimes though the story can be completely different. At the same gig where KISS were mismatched with Machine Gun Fellatio, Grinspoon proved a very apt choice. As did Jeff Lang with Eric Clapton and Josh Pyke and Clare Bowditch supporting Paul Kelly. Occasionally an act can be discovered through its support slot and some of the best examples for me were Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes supporting Mumford & Sons in Hobart this year and Bright Eyes when supporting R.E.M. back in 2005.

Bright Eyes: discovered by this blogger when supporting R.E.M.

Bright Eyes: discovered by this blogger when supporting R.E.M.

Rarer still is the double headline act where one agrees to support the other, like when AC/DC did a couple of gigs supporting the Rolling Stones, or where they swap each night as on the Powderfinger/Silverchair Across The Great Divide tour. Although a real bonus for the audience these types of gigs are most likely rare for a reason. Usually because an established act doesn’t want to play second fiddle to anyone but when it does happen it can be magic.