Clapton is King: 5 of the Guitarist’s Greatest Performances

Tess Brock | May 23, 2017

If you have ever been lucky enough to see Eric Clapton perform live in front of your very own eyes, you have fortunately witnessed a true guitar god and should bring this up as an impressive conversation topic at every dinner party you attend.

For the unlucky souls who haven’t been graced with such a gift, do not fret. Thanks to an abundance of filmed performances, you can get an up-close look to Clapton playing his greatest hits. Here are five of Clapton’s key live performances that showcase why he’s one of the best guitar players in history, plus where to watch him Thursday, May 25.

“Layla” – Madison Square Garden 1999

“Layla” is an iconic Clapton song, and this is an iconic performance. With almost 100 million views, this should be the video you refer to if you ever come across someone not familiar with Clapton’s raw and insane talent. Starting at around the 3:00 mark, Clapton enters into a phenomenal guitar solo. The camera zooms in close so you can see the magic coming through Clapton’s fingertips. Bonus: keep your eye on the bassist at around the 0:44 mark. He jumps giddy with excitement when Clapton starts. But then again, who wouldn’t?

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – Concert for George – Royal Albert Hall 2002

This is a special performance for not only Clapton fans, but also for fans of The Beatles. Clapton joined musician Jeff Lynne in arranging a memorial concert to George Harrison on the first anniversary of his death in 2002. Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney join Clapton in performing one of Harrison’s most beloved songs. Clapton’s vocals and guitar performance perfectly pay homage to Harrison — bringing to life the true spirit of the song.

“Badge” – Live in Hyde Park 1996

Although not a huge hit in the United States, “Badge” sticks out as a favorite from Clapton’s time with the British rock group, Cream. With this live performance from Hyde Park, Clapton pulls you in with a catchy and compelling riff that starts and echoes throughout the song. The rest of the performance is paired with excellent bass, drums, horns, keys — and of course a killer guitar solo. The energy that comes from this particular performance will have you reconsidering your favorite Cream song.

“Wonderful Tonight” – Ipayone Center San Diego 2007

“Wonderful Tonight” features a softer side to the musician. This slow tune demonstrates that Clapton’s guitar skill isn’t only meant for upbeat rock songs. With amazing background vocals in this rendition, this delicate and powerful performance proves why this will forever be the Clapton song of choice at weddings.

“Bad Love” – Royal Albert Hall 1991

Clapton’s performance of “Bad Love” earned him a Grammy Award in 1991 for Best Rock Vocal Performance. Watching this video, you can see why. Not only is this song executed perfectly through Clapton’s lead guitar, his band helps make the track an enticing jam. Starting at 3:50, watch Clapton get swept away in the song, as you will, too.

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Eric Clapton: Slowhand at 70—Live at the Royal Albert Hall

Eric Clapton Live at ROYAL ALBERT HALL

Eric Clapton Live at ROYAL ALBERT HALL – MAY 20, 2015. Photo credit: George Chin.

If these videos are making you want to see Clapton live (how can they not?), there is good news. You can watch an entire mesmerizing Clapton concert this week on THIRTEEN. Eric Clapton Slowhand at 70–Live at the Royal Albert Hall airs May 25 at 10:30 PM. Filmed in 2015, this special celebrates the legendary guitarist’s 70th birthday with this concert in London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall, featuring the above Clapton classics like “Wonderful Tonight,” “Layla,” plus many more that will keep your Clapton appreciation strong.

Slowhand AT 70 begins with an intimate start reminiscent of a small blues club, with beams of light and smoke outlining the raw intensity of Clapton onstage. With the ebb and flow of Clapton’s extensive set list, the energy builds with each track to the epic finale and the massive renditions of “Crossroads” and “Cocaine.”

Clapton brings it home in the Royal Albert Hall — his second home — alongside renowned musicians Paul Carrack, Steve Gadd, Chris Stainton and Nathan East. A performance of “High Time We Went” as an encore creates a crescendo — a blending of artist, band and fans.

Slowhand AT 70 marks 50 years since Clapton made his debut at the Royal Albert Hall on December 7, 1964, when he performed as part of the Yardbirds for BBC2’s “Top Beat Show.” Clapton returned to the venue four years later for Cream’s UK Farewell Concerts on November 26, 1968. This concert marks his 200th performance at the prestigious venue.