Dear Mr. Fantasy

winwood_claptonI felt compelled to share this very heartfelt review from a dear friend of mine, Gary Miller. Gary sent me an email this morning about Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton performing at the legendary Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

Gary's not a music critic, just an ardent and passionate fan of music; all styles of music performed in all sizes of venues. He buys more tickets to more shows than other of my friends. He loves the communion of live music, especially when it resonates with you deep to the core. Enjoy.

The concert was great. Highly recommend you trying to go on Thursday. It will surely bring back a lot of memories. The performances were hot and plenty. They played the same set list as Monday night. However, they replaced "Dear Mr. Fantasy" with "Cocaine" as the last song of the show. Then they replaced "Crossroads" with "Dear Mr. Fantasy" as the encore. Personally, I would rather have heard "Crossroads" than "Cocaine." On the other hand, I would much rather hear "Dear Mr. Fantasy" as an encore over "Crossroads." So, I had no problem with the trade-off. Especially since "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is one of my all-time favorite songs.

I think that most people who were unaware of Steve Winwood's all-around genius were able to leave with a total understanding of his musical prowess. Perhaps now people will finally realize how extraordinary a guitar player he is. Trading licks with Clapton, he was certainly very comfortable and showed his brilliance. You could feel Clapton's total respect for Winwood. In fact, he's said before how much he idolized him and was longing to play with him. They both seemed to be genuinely happy to be performing together again. They certainly blew out the Garden. This Clapton was much better than his Cream reunion shows at the Garden a few years back.

I read a review where Winwood said that they have such a vast array of music to choose from that it was virtually impossible in such a short period of time to rehearse so many songs. They thought the best thing to do would be to keep it simple. So, they decided to play what they each knew best. Some reviews will talk about the two individual superstars playing their own music while the other sat in on his songs. This is true to a degree, but it was so cool to hear Winwood's voice on Clapton's cover of "Forever Man." Winwood on the organ for Clapton's "Tell The Truth." Clapton, in turn, adding guitar licks to "Glad," "No Face, No Name, No Number" and "Pearly Queen" (Mason) from Winwood's Traffic days. Also Clapton playing guitar on Winwood's "Split Decision."

They reached back to their Blind Faith days with "Had to Cry Today," "Sleeping in the Ground," "Presence of the Lord," "Well All Right," and "Can't Find My Way Home." All were done splendorifically. Hahahaha.

There were also the blues covers of "Low Down," "Double Trouble," and "Ramblin' on My Mind" (Clapton on solo acoustic guitar). Winwood launched into a blistering Hammond solo on "Georgia on My Mind" that to that point of the show was my favorite. Together, they nailed Buddy Miles' "Them Changes." And the Hendrix tributes of "Little Wing" and "Voodoo Chile" were absolutely off the charts. Talk about tearing the house down...

I have to say that in the end, it was "Dear Mr. Fantasy" that took my heart. Winwood, Capaldi, and Wood wrote one masterpiece with that one. I was impressed with how many people in the audience seemed to know most of the lyrics. Winwood's vocals and guitar playing were nothing short of phenomenal on that encore. It will stay with me for a very long time!!! Hope you can make it.

Cheers, Gary

Blind Faith

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Mr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. He is also a singer/songwriter who has released 3 solo CDs and a member of the folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was an agent at the William Morris Agency!

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