Eric Clapton – Lockdown Sessions is an intimate showcase of a lifetime’s work | Avocado

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Eric Clapton – Lockdown Sessions (no rating, 89 minutes) 4 stars It was never meant to be. Eric Clapton and a combo of some of his closest musical collaborators were scheduled to perform live at the Royal Albert Hall in front of thousands of fans earlier this year, but the pandemic kicked in again and it was over. Rather, a successful event for a live audience became an intimate experience, a showcase for the superb musicality that was recorded for this concert film and the accompanying new album, “Eric Clapton: The Lady in the Balcony Lockdown Sessions “. The album features 17 old favorites tracks written by Clapton and other famous rock and bluesmen. “Layla” is there, of course, too. The concert, if that’s the right word for those informal sessions of Clapton and his combo of retirement age musos, took place at Cowdray House, a towering stately heap in the West Sussex countryside. During filming, the seasons changed from late winter to early spring. Occasionally, the camera spotted Clapton or members of his party exercising in the vast grounds. There is an audience of one. Clapton’s wife, Melia, ‘the lady on the balcony’ who makes a cameo appearance from said balcony above the mansion room. Before that happens, an original group of cardboard cutouts, including portraits of famous politicians, are seen on the balcony in a cutout. In the absence of a live audience, filmmaker Russ Titelman made sense of place to matter, with a panning, tilting, and probing camera sweeping the mansion from above and below. low, and drone shots of its incredible terrain. Certainly, it is good to move away from time to time from the place where the music is being made. Cowdray House is a large old rural heap that has gone through many iterations since it was built around 900 years ago. It seems to have undergone various iterations over the centuries, so it’s now a kind of architectural curiosity. It is a particular pleasure to see all the musicians at work. With the benefit of the medium shot and the close-up, the communication between a tight combo that has worked together over the decades is visible to all. Bassist and backing vocalist Nathan East, drummer Steve Gadd and Clapton all observe each other as they go, though Clapton’s ‘anchor’ keyboardist Chris Stainton seems to have a hunch as to what to do next without never scrutinize his curtain of long hair. While it’s true that few rock n ‘roll musos can read music, what does this combined ease tell us to the rest of us? In 2017, Lily Zanuck’s documentary Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars depicted much of the musician’s life in its difficult and painful detail. The story of Clapton’s life has certainly known a great sadness, of the kind that “Tears in Heaven” evokes. Besides a few snippets of voiceover and a bit of a joke, there is little meaningful verbalization other than a few small comments from guitar tech and director Titelman, also Clapton’s music producer. During the ongoing pandemic, it has been time to keep the candle lit, observes Clapton, though apparently not the time to venture into much new. His first track, a solo rendition of the very familiar “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”, set with a cut as if playing while waiting for the roadies to settle in, is played on his new 12-string acoustics. However, this track and all of the tracks that follow, like “Black Magic Woman”, “After Midnight”, “Goin ‘Down Slow” and “Got My Mojo Working”, are established favorites. We know everything by heart. Like Nick Cave, who went ahead and performed solo in front of the cameras at Alexandra Palace after his gig was boxed, Clapton seems to have seized the opportunity, but the tracks are part. of the cannon. Is there nothing new to say? Hardcore music fans will be the best judges. If it seems that pointing the cameras and having the band play was all there was to it, then the ease of delivery was deceptive. Eric Clapton – Lockdown Sessions is about a rare talent, sublimated by a lifetime’s work.



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