We went to see Eric Clapton play at the MEN Arena in Manchester on Thursday. I’ve never been inside the MEN before (although I’ve stood outside may a time waiting to pick up my daughter) and this was also the first time I’d been to a concert in one of these huge venues. It was quite different from the gigs I’ve been to recently since the kids have grown up and we’ve started going out again. They have all been in small, more intimate venues.
EC was excellent and made it look so easy. I wish I could play 10% as good as him. His set was quite varied and included several less familiar songs. He also included some acoustic pieces in the middle of the set. In total it lasted just about 2 hours (including the encore) without a break. Not bad for a 64 year old!
Although we were only about one third of the way back, on one of the side terraces, the stage was a fair distance away and it was hard to make out the band. Luckily there were big screens. Those at the back would hardly have been able to see anything other than what was on the screen.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the gig,there were a few negatives – in particular, a lack of atmosphere. I think that this was down to three main factors
- the setting – large arenas are not so conducive as small venues to creating a good atmosphere. Most of the audience is a long way from the stage and spread out. The high roof doesn’t help in that all the space above you makes it feel sort of empty. It felt rather sterile.
- EC himself didn’t really try to encourage the crowd. There was very little attempt to interact with his audience. He didn’t even introduce his songs. I guess there was an assumption that we’d know what they were, even though many of them weren’t “EC standards”.
- the audience itself – i.e. mainly older, middle class types, quite reserved and not so amenable to getting too excited and showing enthusiasm as an audience made up of teenagers.
Some people did try to make an effort. Facing us, on the other side of the arena (quite a distance away!) a couple of women stood up to dance bu this resulted in a conflict with the couple sitting behind them who made a lot of fuss to try to get them to sit down. Understandable, I suppose, when tickets cost a small fortune and someone standing in front of you makes it difficult to see. I guess unless everyone stands up this sort of conflict is inevitable.
Nevertheless, although the atmosphere could have been better, the main reason to go there was to see EC (I could make him out – mainly on the big screen!) and to soak up the music. So all in all a good night out.
Set list (from whereseric website)
- Going down slow
- Anything for your love
- Key to the highway
- Old love
- I shot the sheriff
- Lay down Sally*
- Not dark yet*
- Anytime for you*
- Somewhere over the rainbow*
- Little queen of spades
- Before you accuse me
- Wonderful tonight
- Crossroads (encore)
* acoustic set