In celebration of his 70th, Clapton returns to the main stage in fine form.
Eric Clapton’s performance quality is, like the cliché goes, much like a fine wine; it only grows better with age. That holds true in the case of the now 70-year-old rock and blues guitarist and singer-songwriter, who recently put on a two hour-long show in celebration of his seven decades on Earth at South Kensington’s Royal Albert Hall.
Already a respected mythical beast for his contributions to music through classics like “Tears in Heaven”, “Layla”, and “Wonderful Tonight” – all of which are spectacularly present on Slowhand at 70 - Live at the Royal Albert Hall – it’s arguable that his seniority has only gifted him with the threadbare gravitas to sing them with even more meaning than he’s been able to muster throughout his illustrious 52-year career.
The main attraction of Clapton’s latest release through Eagle Rock comes in the form of a DVD or Blu-ray disc featuring footage from the Royal Albert Hall show in the parameters that one expects from the two separate formats. The Blu-ray disc comes across as the especially recommended of the two, of course, for its glorious rendition of the ornate music hall in 1080p.
In regards to the actual film on display, for a capture lending itself to such an industry legacy, it comes across as occasionally choppy; the concert documentaries’ directing hands haven’t accomplished the firmest possible set of transitions in editing here, but nothing absolutely inhibiting stands out, either. It's definitely an above-par take that successfully displays the excitement of the typically reserved Royal Albert Hall while Clapton performs, and there's just something remarkable about watching the man at work in his latest in full HD.
Of actual performance moments, Clapton is in his finest form here. Each song in and of itself is a memory dedicated to some particular person or moment from his grand career. Whilst the aforementioned old fan favorites are each primed up in top fashion, Clapton also takes on several lesser-known blues classics to set the tone for the genre upon which he’s built much of his artistic infrastructure; a brooding rendition of “Somebody’s Knocking on My Door” sets the tone for a plenitude of additional blues standards to bristle over the brim throughout the night.
Other standouts amongst the set include a jam band take on “I Shot the Sherriff”, an infectious rendition of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”, and one heck of a burner in Clapton’s livewire performance of “Cocaine”. At the center of the performance is his take on deceased bandmate Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful”, delivered with such emotional authority that it sobers even the rowdy rabble of Clapton fans who, at virtually all other points of the concert, are mostly roused out of their seats, singing and dancing along to his tunes.
What Slowhand at 70 proves above all else is that Clapton most certainly hasn’t slowed down one bit since reaching the tip of his ascension into his golden years; in fact, it’s hard to argue against the notion that he’s only gotten better. The relationship between Clapton and his millions of eager fans has been one of the highlights of the music industry throughout the decades, and it shows in spades on Slowhand at 70’s DVD and Blu-ray options. The additional 2-disc CD set included with orders of the film offer an invaluable bonus for those often on the road as these performances might well be Clapton’s magnum opus.
Right up there with the likes of fellow blues and rock legends B.B. King and Dr. John, Clapton hasn’t lost the beat in his step with age; on the contrary, he's a pleasure to watch.