The two-superstar bill of Eric Clapton and Elton John brought out a who’s who of entertainment industry celebs and bigwigs to Dodger Stadium Saturday for a five-hour-plus rock spectacle. Both artists looked like specks on the horizon, barely aided by three small video screens that were insufficient to convey images beyond the 10th row of the floor seats.
Clapton opened the show on this first of two nights at the cavernous venue–the artists have been alternating in the opening spot for their stadium dates–delivering perfunctory renditions of newer tunes such as “Tears in Heaven ,” taken from the “Rush” film score, plus perennials “Wonderful Tonight” and a 20-minute “Layla,” the set finale.
Arduous band solos marred the four-song encore, which included a pleasing yet grungier version of the Cream stalwart “Sunshine of Your Love.”
The stage arrival of John, backlit behind huge banners that fronted the stage , garnered the evening’s biggest response.
The artist’s set mixed glimpses of the future with pieces of the past by interspersing cuts from his just-released MCA disc “The One” among his many ’70s highlights.
John, who is enjoying his first top-10 album since his mid-’70s heyday, relied heavily on prerecorded string and woodwind sounds in a set that ranged from the sublime (“Your Song”) to the ridiculous (“Bitch Is Back”).
George Michael joined John for a reprise of set opener “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” a noble but unnecessary gesture, as John’s momentum and energy never waned during his more than two-hour set. The evening’s showstopper was John’s aggressive interpretation of the Freddie Mercury-penned “The Show Must Go On,” which featured John traversing the stage apron belting out the song’s lyrics, paying homage to the late singer without resorting to cheap theatrics, as a lesser performer might have done.