Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood, both formerly of the rock super-group, Blind Faith, closed out their European Tour at Istanbul's Kurucesme Arena. The tickets were a gift from my lovely wife and we were both really excited to finally see the master play on the banks of the Bosphorus Straight. But first, we had to get there and lucky for us their was a direct boat set up by the municipality that went from our neighbourhood in Uskudar to the venue in Kurucesme. How convenient it was to be dropped off 25 feet from the stage.
I had heard from friends that at 65, God, AKA Slowhand, AKA Eric Clapton, was perhaps starting to show signs of aging. If this is so, I didn't notice. He may move a little slower, and a couple of the songs may have decreased in tempo (eg: Crossroads) but he hasn't lost a step. The crisp bluesy notes rang true from his USA Custom Fender Stratocaster. Here is a man who does not hide behind effects. Sticking to the set list, Clapton and Winwood let their instruments do the talking, only briefly pausing to say "thank you" between songs.
Midway through Midland Manic a fireworks display surprised the crowd, as well as the band. One of the party boats floating by produced a display that lasted well into the next song, my personal favourite, Crossroads. Undeterred, the band continued the jam throughout the explosions. Each spectacle accompanied the other perfectly and it was an unbelievable 7 minutes.
Other memorable moments from the concert included the crowd singing softly along to the chorus of Layla (unplugged), Winwood's sweet solo on the Hammond Organ during a slowed down cover of Voodoo Chile, the crowd shouting the final "Cocaine!" in the song aptly named Cocaine and Dear Mr. Fantasy as the encore.
The show ended and we began to make our way to the boat. We were extremely happy with the show and I was ecstatic at finally being able to see one of my childhood idols.