Eric Clapton and others, Royal Albert Hall, London
Thursday 18 March 2004
Charity musical events often result in the music suffering because of the demands of showbiz. After all, we're supposed to suspend all normal modes of behaviour and enter gladly into the pact of helping the charity in question. We all play our part, whether it's by providing entertainment, applause, money or publicity to the nominated cause.
This particular Albert Hall spectacular was marshalled by (and in aid of) The Lord's Taverners' Charitable Works and featured a host of rock'n'rollers at various stages of the ageing process, but the presence of Eric Clapton's name at the top of the bill at least gave attendees hope that the music served up for the occasion would have integrity. While Jools Holland is equally adept at boogie piano and doing the showbiz glad hand, other older stagers such as Bill Wyman, Peter Green, Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone and Roger Chapman (later additions to the bill included Bob Geldof and Gary Brooker) suggested that the hope would bear fruit.
First on stage were Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, featuring Georgie Fame. Their good-natured take on R&B was marred only by the Albert Hall's renowned ability to dissipate a tight groove in its upper architecture. A four-song set by Paul Carrack came and went with nothing remarkable happening, before Roger Chapman appeared, to inject a little spirit into the proceedings. Sticking mostly to early Sixties R&B, Chapman clearly enjoyed himself and got everyone else rocking. Last up before the break were The Zombies. Featuring Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, the group fired off three numbers, climaxing in "She's Not There", extended on stage to include a screeching guitar solo.
After the break, the entertaining acoustic set by Geno Washington overran. The following acoustic set by Jools Holland and Sam Brown was mercifully short. An unanswered question hung over the two pieces Peter Green completed with the Rhythm Kings before wandering off stage; Eric Clapton looked on silently from the wings. He was, in fact, next on stage and delivered three impeccably judged and executed blues numbers, his multicoloured Stratocaster brimming with fire and fluency. Clapton proved to be at the top of his game and was the thrill of the night.
No such event is complete without a surprise guest. Ours was Geldof. Sir Bob came on to wild cheering and ran through two quick numbers with Wyman's group, "Route 66" taking us back to Rolling Stones territory. Last act before the all-in finale was Gary Brooker, who finished up with a sepulchral "Whiter Shade of Pale".
The audience - an odd mixture of fans, charity grandees and ordinary folk - swept up by the energy on stage, were now well beyond merely rattling the jewellery. The stomping and cheering showed that they had real enthusiasm for the cause. Proof positive, then, that a good cause can aid in the process of a good time being had by all, including the beneficiaries. It was an event demanding charitable behaviour from all present, including the critics.
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Ben Affleck asked TV chiefs to hide slave-owning ancestry, new hacked Sony emails published by Wikileaks claim
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 One Direction: Louis Tomlinson launching his own record label, has already 'signed two acts'
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
One Direction: Louis Tomlinson launching his own record label, has already 'signed two acts'
Tidal CEO leaves Jay Z's music streaming service only a month after it launched
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens: Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill admits he was suspicious of 'Star Trek guy' JJ Abrams
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate