As he celebrates 50 years as a performer, Eric Clapton could be excused for becoming rather set in his ways. Every two years, at the exact same time in May, he’s back in the Albert Hall. The number of shows varies, at least.
This time it’s seven. He’s ostensibly promoting a new album, though he barely grazed it this evening, perhaps understandably. There’s an unbothered air to Old Sock, from the title and mobile phone-shot cover to the mostly cover versions within. So here he stuck to the older formula of big hits mixed with ancient blues, plenty of acoustic relaxation time and solo after solo.
It can sometimes be harder to be impressed by his fretwork, because he looks as if he’s barely doing anything while the notes gush from his fingers as when a door opens on a flooded house.
He saunters, not sweats, though a big smile as the riff of Crossroads began, and plenty of shouted thank yous, showed what fun he was having.
His new song Gotta Get Over was a raucous gospel number, while Got To Get Better In A Little While sounded more modern and funky, with vigorous drumming from an impressive Steve Jordan. Keyboard player Paul Carrack added smooth soul to Clapton’s more raw vocals, and everybody got their turn at a solo eventually.
A quiet audience was matched by the band during a long seated section that included the inevitable languorous Layla and the first dance favourite, Wonderful Tonight. A portly stage invader, wrestled off at length by a security guard, provided some unwelcome energy during Sunshine of Your Love. Clapton never missed a note, as always.
Until May 26, Royal Albert Hall, SW7 (020 7589 8212, royalalberthall.com)