Two of music’s living legends took over the Bank Atlantic Center on Thursday for a night of rock ‘n roll classics and bluesy jam band-like performances. People of all ages lined up well before the 6:30 door time eager to make their way inside. Grandparents with their children and their children with their children were all present to witness the three time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, guitar pioneer, and the flat-out rock God who is Eric Clapton. But before Clapton set foot onstage another legend, Roger Daltrey — you know, the guy from The Who — was up first, telling the crowd, “I guess I’m here to warm you all up.”
Daltrey then launched into “I Can See For Miles”. As the rock legend plowed through tunes like “Going Mobile” and “The Real Me”, he moved with the nimbleness of an up-and-coming new musician. At one point the music stopped and Daltrey told a story of the last time The Who was a supporting act — 1964 with the Rolling Stones — and that after all these years, he again gets to “see how the other half live”. Along with blues-fused rock tracks “Freedom Ride” and “Gimme A Stone”, the crowd was wowed with the two little ditties “Behind Blue Eyes” and as Daltrey put it, “a Shepherd’s Bush blues song called ‘Who Are You’”.
After the 50-minute set from the Who’s main voice, concertgoers probably could’ve left then and there with an overwhelming feeling of amazement and satisfaction. At that point, the fact that Clapton was up next only made things sweeter. At 8:45 the house lights went down and Eric Clapton casually strolled onstage, not seeming to notice that thousands of people had come together to see him and only him. In an instant, the arena was filled with the sound of his Fender starting to sing. The set opened with “Going Down Slow” and we were off and running. “To Tell The Truth” and “Key To Highway” followed without so much as a word from the Englishman. No words were necessary as everything revolved around the music. Clapton slowed things down while tugging at everyone’s heartstrings with “Old Love” and then brought everyone back to life with his rendition of Bob Marley’s hit, “I Shot The Sheriff”. About halfway through the set, Clapton traded his electric Fender for a non-electric acoustic to play “Driftin’ Blues”, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”, and his smash hit “Layla”. Sitting in the center of the stage, Clapton held the packed arena in the palm of his hand. In that moment, it felt like we were all in a small room and Eric Clapton just happened to be there giving us an intimate performance before going back to his life as one of the world’s best guitar players. At one point, he even took the time to dedicate “I’ve Got A Rock n’ Roll Heart” to three (very) young fans. When Clapton got back on his feet and strapped his Stratocaster back on, the crowd reciprocated and got on their feet as well. “Wonderful Tonight”, “Before You Accuse Me”, and “Little Queen of Spades” all followed. The main set was brought to an earth-shattering end with Clapton’s blistering cover of the J.J. Cale tune, “Cocaine”. After a short break, Eric Clapton and his band took the stage once more for an encore performance which included the Cream hit “Crossroads”. It was an unbelievable night of music. South Floridians witnessed two legendary musicians sharing the stage in our backyard. Roger Daltrey’s performance was incredible and if you closed your eyes at some points, you could swear that it was 1964 and The Who was the act onstage. Eric Clapton lived up to his reputation as one of the best in the world and delivered a flawless performance. And after over 40 years in the music business, he can still make your ears bleed, make your feet move, and make you fall in love. All with just a few finger slides, power chords, and some wicked finger picking.