Written by Jim Bille
Jun 24, 2009 at 08:00 PM
ImageOne half of the first so called super group of the 1960’s, Blind Faith, made a stop at the Toyota Center in Houston last Wednesday night for an epic performance.

Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood along with Ginger Baker and Ric Gretch, collaborated 40 years ago to produce one of the best albums of that time with the short lived band Blind Faith. After only performing together for about year, the band split up and went their separate ways leaving fans with only a mere hint of what could have been.

Fast forward to 2007 at Clapton’s second Guitar festival when once again EC amassed some of the best guitarists in world for a one day summit outside of Chicago. Included in this line up was his old band mate Steve Winwood. After jamming on some Blind Faith numbers together that day, the stage was set for a reunion of sorts. In 2008 the two reunited at Madison Square Garden for 2 shows which eventually led to the current 14 city U.S. tour. Houston would be the tenth stop of the tour.

Around 8:15 unannounced the super duo came on stage and opened the show with the Blind Faith song, ‘Had to Cry Today’. With this one number my expectations for the evening were already met. Clapton and Winwood teamed up on guitar for this classic and cut through the iconic guitar riffs with the same razor sharp precision as they did forty years prior.

The second number was ‘Low Down’ one of three J.J.Cale songs featured this evening. Clapton has been a long time protégé of Cale’s and has recorded much of his music so the next song was very familiar and came as no surprise to the crowd. The song, ‘After Midnight’ a number that Clapton has adopted as his own, featured all the trimmings the original version had, including incredible back up vocals by Michelle John and Sharon White.

The slow and soulful ‘Presence of The Lord’ marked the second Blind Faith song followed by an obscure tune by Sam Meyers called ‘Sleeping in The Ground’. Only the true Blind Faith fan would have recognized this songs rarity since it didn’t make the cut on their album.

The evening progressed with the artists swapping musical highlights from each others careers. Windwood’s days with Traffic were represented with songs such as ‘Glad’ from John Barleycorn Must Die, ‘Pearly Queen’ and a Winwood solo first for the tour, ‘Low Spark of High Heeled Boys’. As mentioned, the Houston audience was the first to hear this number and the entire Toyota Center responded with the first standing ovation of the night in appreciation.

An acoustic set followed Winwood’s ‘Low Spark’ performance. The two sat in front of the audience with what appeared to be matching EC Martin guitars. The scene was reminiscent of Clapton’s MTV unplugged series and for good reason. The two teamed up on ‘Drifting’, ‘How Long Blue’s, and ‘Layla’, which provoked the second standing ovation of the night. The last acoustic tune was the ethereal and impeccably played ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’, the final Blind Faith song of the evening.

As a tribute to one of their contemporaries, Clapton and Winwood finished up the show with the Jimi Hendrix standard, ‘Voodoo Chile’. Winwood played on the original recording with Hendrix which made this performance that much more unique.

The two each performed individual classics for the encore set. Clapton’s third J.J. Cale song, the ubiquitous, ‘Cocaine’ revved up the crowd one more time but the real show stopper was saved for last. Steve Winwood nailed his Traffic classic ‘Mr. Fantasy’ with incredible guitar work and his trademark blue eyed soul vocals.

For most of us, this was probably a once in a life time event that featured some of the best music from both artist’s vast catalog of work.