One Generation 4 Another, Royal Albert Hall, London

Clapton shows charity can be sweet with blues masterclass
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The Independent Culture

Charity musical events often result in the music suffering due to the demands of showbiz. After all, we're supposed to suspend all normal modes of behaviour and enter gladly into the pact of helping whatever charity we're on hand to boost.

This particular Albert Hall spectacular was marshalled by (and in aid of) The Lord's Taverners and aimed to raise £175,000 for disadvantaged children. It featured a host of rock 'n' rollers at various stages of the ageing process, but Eric Clapton's name at the top of the bill gave attendees hope that the music would have integrity.

While Jools Holland is equally adept at boogie piano and doing the showbiz glad hand, other older hands such as Bill Wyman, Peter Green, Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone and Roger Chapman (later additions included Bob Geldof and Gary Brooker) suggested that this 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 diffuse 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 played three numbers, climaxing with "She's Not There", extended 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 was on next and delivered three impeccably judged and executed blues numbers. Clapton proved to be at the top of his game and was the thrill of the night.

As the surprise guest, Bob Geldof ran through two quick numbers with Wyman's group, "Route 66" taking us right 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 stomping and cheering showed that the audience had real enthusiasm for the cause. In all this, there is proof positive that a good cause can aid in the process of a good time being had by all.

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