by Brent Warnken
Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck kicked off their co-headlining tour with a gig at storied New York venue Madison Square Garden on Feb. 18. Rolling Stone reported that the pair of former Yardbirds guitarists took the stage for over 40 minutes, performing covers of songs by Sly Stone, Henry Mancini and Willie Dixon, to name a few.
Beck opened the sold-out show with "Eternity's Breath" by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, enlisting an impressive backing band and sizable string section. Although members in the audience requested familiar songs like Beck's cover of "People Get Ready," he marched to the beat of his own drum and played surprising choices like "Corpus Christy Carol" and the Puccini aria "Nessun Dorma." Classic rock fans in attendance did get treated to Beck's cover of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life," for which the guitarist took home a Grammy on Jan. 31.
Clapton entered the stage after a short break, opening with an acoustic medley of blues standards like "Driftin' Blues" and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." Although original hits like "Wonderful Tonight," "Layla," "Sunshine of Your Love" and "Tears in Heaven" were absent from Clapton's set list, he did perform his original 1983 song "I've Got a Rock And Roll Heart." Clapton also covered Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff," J.J. Cale's "Cocaine" and Derek and the Dominoes' "Tell the Truth."
Rolling Stone reported that the pair of iconic guitarists (who grace the current cover of the music magazine) "were clearly playing at the absolute top of their game" when they took the stage together for "Moon River," Cream's "Outside Woman Blues," and Sly Stone's "I Want To Take You Higher."
Clapton and Beck capped off their licks-trading section with Robert Jones' "Crossroads." Eric Clapton may have wrapped up his dates with Jeff Beck, but he is currently on the road with the Who's Roger Daltrey through March 13, after which point he will bring Steve Winwood with him for dates continuing through June. Head online for Eric Clapton tickets to see the living legend on tour.
Eric Clapton may be keeping up a frantic touring pace, but when his dates with Steve Winwood wrap up on June 13 the guitarist won't be taking a break, because his third Crossroads Guitar Festival will take play at Chicago's Toyota Park on June 26. Like the 2004 and 2007 editions of the festival, the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival will benefit the addiction treatment facility founded by Clapton, the Crossroads Center, which is located on the Caribbean island of Antigua.
Although the list of performers confirmed for the event is any rock fan's dream - B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Earl Klugh, John Mayer, Robert Randolph, Jeff Beck, Sheryl Crow, ZZ Top, Steve Winwood, Keb Mo, Vince Gill and Gary Clark, Jr., to name a few - Clapton told Rolling Stone, "I do it because I want to hear those players." Clapton and his band will headline the Windy City guitar festival. The first edition of the Crossroads Festival was held at the 2004 Cotton Bowl in Dallas and both the 2004 and 2007 festivals have been released on DVD, with the 2007 festival also edited into a two-hour PBS special for the network's Great Performances series.
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