River Plate Stadium
Buenos Aires (Argentina)
October 14th, 2011
By Marcelo Olguín
The world is in the middle of a severe economic turmoil but my country, Argentina, does not seem to have realized the situation, at least in terms of major rock concerts. This Friday Eric Clapton played the biggest football stadium in the country (following two dates of the “sacrilegious” Justin Bieber at the same venue on Wednesday and Thursday), tomorrow the singer Sade will make her debut in Buenos Aires, on Sunday hard rock veterans Deep Purple will hit a local stage again and on March 2012 Roger Waters is to play “The Wall” in River Plate over the course of… 9 nights (leaving far behind the 5-night record achieved by The Rolling Stones in 1995).
It was the third visit of Clapton to South America after his first arrival in 1990 (including a show that is remembered as one of the best rock concerts ever witnessed in Argentina) and a second coming in 2001 within the Reptile World Tour.
Without Gary Clark as a support act (he headed back home after the Brazilian leg of the tour) our hero showed up at 9.15pm with three numbers that effectively served to warm up the 45,000-seat sold out stadium: “Key to The Highway”, “Tell The Truth” and “Hoochie Coochie Man”.
“Ten years, too long…” said Eric before an inspired version of “Old Love” (great solo included) that was followed by “I Shot The Sheriff”, a pleasant surprise as I was waiting for “Tearing Us Apart” which had been played in the two previous dates in Brazil.
The acoustic set was one of the peak moments of the night with Clapton converting the stadium into a kind of intimate setting with wonderful renditions of “Driftin’” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”.
For some reason the version of “Lay Down Sally” made me think about how much Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits would be indebted to Eric and thanks to Mr.Stainton (Hats off for good old Chris…) the performance of “When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful” made me forget that I was in a football stadium and feel that I was happily enjoying live music while drinking a beer in a small pub (putting aside the fact that no alcohol is allowed to be sold in most of the musical venues in Argentina).
Surprisingly “Layla” received a rather “cold” reception from the audience possibly due to (in my opinion, unfortunate) new arrangement (with all due respect to the great Steve Gadd, after the marvelous acoustic version offered by EC and Steve Winwood in London some months ago, this kind of “military march” looked a bit hard to approve).
The “older” part of the audience was pleased by an extraordinary rendition of Cream’s “Badge” while the couples had their moment with a touching version of “Wonderful Tonight” (an unexpected smash hit in Argentina in the late 70’s, when the military Government ironically was trying to impose John Travolta and disco music among young people in order to prevent them to develop their own political ideas).
Another high moment of the show was reached with “Before You Accuse Me” that was linked to a stunning performance of “Little Queen of Spades”. After that, “Cocaine” was greeted by a standing ovation from the audience and “Crossroads” was played as a triumphant encore.
An hour and forty minutes after the first chord was played Clapton left the stage waving his hand to the crowd and we all said goodbye to him as to a good friend that we love dearly but who rarely visits us. Bye Eric! It was very well worth the wait. See you soon… maybe in about… 10 years?
1. Key To The Highway
2. Tell The Truth
3. Hoochie Coochie Man
4. Old Love
5. I Shot The Sheriff
7. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
8. Lay Down Sally
9. When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful
12. Wonderful Tonight
13. Before You Accuse Me
14. Little Queen Of Spades
16. Crossroads (Encore)