x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Clapton doesn't disappoint his UAE audience

The guitarist Eric Clapton played to 15,000 fans at the capital's Yas Arena, while the soul singer Amy Winehouse performed an erratic finale to the musical festivities at Gulf Bike Week in Dubai.

Eric Clapton's concert at the Yas Arena last night was both the first of the guitarist's world tour in support of his new album as weell included old favourites as well songs from his new album, Claption.
Eric Clapton's concert at the Yas Arena last night was both the first of the guitarist's world tour in support of his new album as weell included old favourites as well songs from his new album, Claption.

It was a musical double header in the UAE last night as the guitarist Eric Clapton played to 15,000 swaying fans at the capital's Yas Arena, and the soul singer Amy Winehouse performed an erratic finale to the musical festivities at Gulf Bike Week in Dubai.

In Abu Dhabi, Clapton opened with Key to the Highway, a version of a Charlie Segar song that he recorded with Derek and the Dominos in 1970.

Other songs included Wonderful Tonight from the 1977 album Slowhand, and the classic Derek and the Dominos hit, Layla.

Eager for the opportunity to hear his early hits, Jane Parke traveled from her home in Sana'a, Yemen to see the concert.

"I have friends in Dubai, so when I heard about the concert I made a holiday of it," she said. "I have always hoped to see him live."

Marcel Hamoen, an electrical engineer for a petroleum servicing company in Dubai, called Clapton "the last surviving great guitarist of all time".

"He is the one who, in the 1960s, completely broke into the blues scene to change its whole influence," he said.

"There are no guitarists or even musicians today who are not directly or indirectly influenced by him."

Jon Van Wyk, who flew in from Queensland, Australia, said he was most excited to hear music from his new album, though he said he is a bigger fan of Clapton's time spent in the bands Cream and The Yardbirds.

"Seeing Clapton has always been on the top of my list of concerts," he said.

"I have just about all of his albums and have watched many of his concerts online and on YouTube, so I am thrilled."

The concert was held during a packed weekend of V8 Supercar racing and extreme sport demonstrations at Yas Marina Circuit, and kicks off a tour to promote the blues-rock guitarist's latest album, Clapton.

Eric Clapton and His Band will hold shows in Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Seoul before heading to North America at the end of the month.

The concert kicks off this year's Yas Island entertainment series of international artists. Tiesto's much-anticipated rescheduled stop on his Kaleidoscope tour will hit the Flash Forum on Thursday, while Thirty Seconds to Mars makes its Middle East debut on March 11 and the Grammy award collector Stevie Wonder performs on March 18.

Clapton's show vied with big-name concerts in Dubai this weekend, as Mike Posner, Pharrell Williams, N.E.R.D. and Amy Winehouse performed at Festival City for Gulf Bike Week.

Winehouse opened with favourites such as Back to Black from the 2006 album of the same name and moved to selections from her 2003 debut album, Frank.

But, according to those in the crowd, the singer seemed distracted throughout the show, and briefly left the stage after 30 minutes, forcing her backing singers to step in.

She returned about 10 minutes later to perform Rehab, the chart hit from Back to Black, but was greeted with a hostile reception.

This is Winehouse's first time in the Middle East and the precursor to her European tour.

Anna Lewis, a Dubai resident from Scotland, said: "She just wasn't there. I paid Dh300 for this ticket and 10 minutes of it was her backing singers."

econroy@thenational.ae

mswan@thenational.ae