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AKILl-CASUDRIA RAMSESS/ORLANDO SENTINEL
Eric Clapton plays Saturday at Amway Arena in Orlando. Roger Daltrey was his opening act.
Eric Clapton lets guitar
do the talking at Amway
By Jim Abbott
ORLANDO SENTINEL MUSIC CRITIC
When people pick nowadays at the perform-
ances of Eric Clapton, the original rock-guitar
deity, the complaints usually describe him as
disengaged, a guy going through the motions.
Watching his efﬁcient 90minute perform-
ance Saturday at a packed Amway Arena, it’s
easy to see the reasoning for that argument:
Clapton pretty much said two words all night
— “hello” and “goodbye” —not exactly stamp-
ing a personal touch on the proceedings.
What’s missed in that assessment, however,
is the communication that he still offers with
his guitar, an instrument that ﬁnds a welcome
position in the spotlight on his current tour.
On Clapton’s 2006 stop at Amway he was
trading licks with a pair of formidable ax men,
Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall II. The
jamming that night yielded plenty of ﬁre
works but inevitably cut into Clapton’s own
opportunities to shine.
On Saturday, he was the lone guitarist in a
leaner ensemble, built on the solid rhythm
foundation of drummer Steve Gadd and bass-
ist Willie Weeks. The result was a set relying
on more subtle pleasures than rock-star pos-
turing. The career wisdom of a blues infatua-
tion is that the genre is well-suited to growing
older, and Clapton is aging gracefully
He strolled on stage casually with the band,
very ungodlike, and launched into a four-pack
of reliable blues: “Going Down Slow,” “Key to
the Highway,” “Tell the Truth” and “01d
Love.” The latter, done silky and slow, show-
cased Clapton’s feather—light touch in a solo
that delicately explored the melodic terrain.
At times in recent years, Clapton’s ﬂashiest
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solos have tended to retread the same high,
twisting arpeggios over and over, but there
was less of that predictability Saturday His
acoustic renditions of “Driftin’ Blues” and
“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and
Du ” coaxed impressive inspiration from fa-
Alas, “Layla,” also in the unplugged seg-
ment, unfolded as the night’s most formulaic
moment, especially compared with the full-
band version powered by Trucks’ slide guitar
at the 2006 show. Mostly, however, Clapton’s
guitar spoke eloquently in a set list that also
included faithful renditions of favorites such
as “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Wonderful Tonight,”
“Cocaine” and the “Crossroads” encore.
When it came to talking, opening act Roger
Daltrey was the chatty one, peppering his
hourlong set with rambling recollections and
even a newsy tidbit about plans for a potential
tour by The Who in the fall. Musically, he took
a step toward absolving himself of blame for
that much-maligned Super Bowl perform-
ance with a spirited mix of classics (“Baba
O’Riley,” “Behind Blue Eyes”) and songs such
as Taj Mahal’s “Freedom Ride” that took the
band outside classic rock.
A little bit of Daltrey’s Showmanship from
Clapton would’ve been nice, but a guitar god
does what he wants.
Jim Abbott can be reached at
jabbotl:@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-6213.