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“Eric Clapton: Live at Montreux, 1986″ is another concert in
this large DVD series, released under the Eagle Eye Media
label. I’ve seen several of these concerts now, and I like the
intimate ambience of these festivals. The stage isn’t large,
the audiences aren’t huge and the emphasis is on the music,
instead of a huge spectacle. I find this “informal” atmosphere
very appealing.

That said, this concert has a fun, relaxed “vibe.” The set of
roughly one hour and 51 minutes consists of 16 total songs,
two of which are encores. The program is a mixture of tunes
from Eric Clapton’s days with Cream, along with his current hits,
circa 1986. These new songs, such as “I Wanna Make Love to
You,” and “Miss You,” are interspersed with well-known hits,
including “Crossroads,” “White Room,” “Cocaine,” and “Layla.”
The primary emphasis is on the older favorites.

Clapton’s band at this time consisted of drummer/singer
Phil Collins, bassist Nathan East, and Greg Phillinganes on
keyboards. With this roster, all of the songs take on an “80’s”
sound, with mixed results. First of all, I must say that Clapton’s
bandmates are all VERY solid musicians, and he gives them
ample opportunities to shine. However, “keyboard-heavy”
renditions of songs like “Sunshine of Your Love” took some
getting used to, on my part. I realize that these are my
preferences. Given the mood of the concert and the
performance circumstances, I suppose that I couldn’t expect
much else.

Whether in the studio or on stage, Eric Clapton has never
desired to be the “star” of the show. He has always struck
me as a generous collaborator who is willing to share the
spotlight. For him, it’s all about the music and what’s best
for the song, instead of showing off his considerable guitar
chops! Since his days with Cream, I’ve been impressed with
his abilities as a singer and songwriter. An example of Clapton’s
“team spirit” approach during this concert included a Phil
Collins performance of his own hit, “In the Air Tonight,”while
Clapton merely played the required backing chords. In another
number, Greg Phillinganes took the spotlight with his hand-held
keyboard and lead vocals. As I’ve said before, Clapton is a
great collaborator!

Nevertheless, while performing “Same Old Blues,” Clapton
displays his skills with taste and feeling that is his and his
alone, and nobody does it better. Although he has stylistically
reinvented himself many times over the years, in my opinion,
he’s still at his best when he “cuts loose,” and plays the Blues.
This concert provides a snapshot of where he was musically
during the summer of 1986, and all things considered, it wasn’t
such a bad place to be!

The video quality wasn’t the greatest on this DVD, and seemed
a bit cloudy to me. However, this did not pose a major problem.
While the sound mixing could have been better, I’ve certainly
heard a lot worse. Overall, this was an enjoyable show in the
“popular” vein, minus the dangerous element that can result
in exciting music making. Clapton’s days with Cream are long
behind him, but for me, he will still be an artist who is
worth following.

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