Eric Clapton and Gary Clark Jr.’s performance of Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers was undoubtedly the poison chalice of the evening when it came to the recent Jeff Beck tribute concerts. Now new footage shows the two players handled it in their stride.
A sizeable selection of electric guitar icons took to the stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall across the two nights (May 22-23), including organiser Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons, Ronnie Wood, Kirk Hammett, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, John McLaughlin and more.
The setlist for the evening was massive, running to 26 tracks with rotating backing bands, moving between Clapton’s usual players and Jeff Beck’s own group. However, the daunting task of tackling Beck’s signature song, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, fell to Clapton and Clark on both nights.
The track was written by Stevie Wonder but became synonymous with Beck when the late guitar icon recorded a version for his second solo album, Blow By Blow, released in 1975.
Beck’s masterful volume control and mournful bends on the track inspired many imitators – they also created something of a legacy that you can trace right through to Gary Moore and a legion of modern blues players.
Of course, nobody did it like Beck and, as such, even seasoned performers like Clapton and Clark must have felt the weight of expectation on their shoulders when it came to performing it onstage at the Albert Hall.
The footage above comes from the pair’s second and final show on the night of May 23 and shows Clark kicking things off – seemingly avoiding the volume-riding opening technique favored by Beck (see below) – and fair enough, if you ask us.
Clark’s playing still does more than enough to tug at the heartstrings on the track, particularly in his latter sections – even if it can’t possibly replicate Beck’s sniper-like precision.
Around the three-minute mark, Clark hands over lead duties to Clapton, who (although known to do so) appears to be playing without a pick, which here feels like an appropriate tribute to Beck’s renowned finger tone.
Meanwhile, watch out for Clapton’s guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, who also takes a lead section and sounds superb doing so – but that should be no surprise given his day job.
Watch the full clip above, which runs to an impressive nine minutes, and then check out the tribute show’s star-studded set closer Going Down – a song that featured at Jeff Beck’s funeral.