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Concert Reviews:
Clapton, Daltrey Give Holiday Weekend A British Flavor At DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- There's an irony, at least a little bit of one, to having two British rock 'n' roll icons share a stage during the weekend of Independence Day -- America's from Great Britain.

But if it's going to happen, Eric Clapton and the Who's Roger Daltrey were an appropriate pair to spend the third of July with on Saturday at the DTE Energy Music Theatre. As Clapton noted, "We've been coming here for about 40 years," and that lengthy connection with the metro Detroit area was visibly -- and audibly -- strong for the sexagenarian pair.

Daltrey explained to the non-sellout crowd that the main reason he's touring as a solo act is "to keep singing just in case the other bloke in my band (Who guitarist and composer Pete Townshend) decided to go out there, (then) I have something to give him." On Saturday Daltrey and his crack band gave the DTE fans a satisfying 55 minutes of mostly Who favorites -- starting with "I Can See For Miles" and including "The Real Me," "Behind Blue Eyes," a bluesy retooling of "Who Are You," the seldom-played "Goin' Mobile" sung by Townshend's guitar-playing younger brother Simon with Daltrey on harmonica, and closing with "Baba O'Riley."

Singing significantly better than he did during the Who's last couple of area appearances, Daltrey, 66, also dipped into his solo catalog for "Days of Light," covered Taj Mahal's "Freedom Rider" and offered up The Who's arrangement of Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues."

The blues, not surprisingly, was top of Clapton's mind during the guitar legend's one-hour-and-45-minute set from the moment he led his band on stage, noodling on his powder blue Fender Stratocaster until his licks morphed into the Howlin' Wolf-popularized "Going Down Slow," lacing solos into the middle and the end of the song. A week past his star-studded Crossroads Guitar Festival in suburban Chicago, Clapton was in the kind of form his fans like best -- aggressive but always tasteful, and never playing anything that didn't serve the song.

It wasn't necessarily a night for hits, although the 16-song set did include a particularly hot rendition of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff," Cream's "Badge," the balladic "Wonderful Tonight" and J.J. Cale's "Cocaine," while real devotees might have preferred an electric "Layla" rather than the acoustic arrangement -- a Top 20 hit in 1992, to be fair -- that Clapton chose on Saturday. Mostly, however, Clapton and his six-piece band dug into his repertoire for the likes of Charlie Segar's "Key to the Highway," "Tough Luck Blues," a funky romp through Derek & the Dominos' "Key to the Highway" and Robert Johnson's "Little Queen of Spades," while the mid-show acoustic set quieted things down with "Driftin' Blues," Jimmy Cox's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," Fats Waller's "When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful" and Clapton's own "I've Got a Rock 'n' Roll Heart."

Clapton, who's 65, gave generous solo time to keyboardists Chris Stainton and Walt Richmond throughout the night, while the top-shelf rhythm section of bassist Willie Weeks and drummer Steve Gadd was as solid as any he's played with. If there was a slight sense of hurrying the pace for this last night of their tour, Clapton and the group made up for it with their instrumental prowess -- and certainly had the DTE crowd hoping he meant it when he promised, "I'll see you again soon."

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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