Eagle Rock's new Slowhand at 70 Blu-ray offers sterling 1080p high definition video and lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio (also LPCM 2.0 stereo) of Clapton's show at London's Royal Albert Hall. The camera work and editing could've benefited from a less frenetic approach (the visual aesthetic isn't as strong as in the 2002 live Clapton DVD One More Car, One More Rider), but the quick-cutting isn't fatally distracting. The seven-date stay served as a massive celebration commemorating the artist's 70th birthday. Both the Blu-ray and DVD editions include a two-CD live album of the concert. For those with deeper pockets, there's a deluxe edition that adds a DVD of Clapton's Royal Albert Hall appearances in years past plus a 60-page hardcover book.
As for the standard Blu-ray edition, this is one of those concerts that just feels like one highlight after another. Clapton pays beautiful tribute to his former touring band member, the late hit-making keyboardist (and one-time "fifth Beatle") Billy Preston, with a tender reading of "You Are So Beautiful" (often associated with Joe Cocker, the song is a Preston original). Clapton's current touring keyboardist Paul Carrack handles the lead vocal with care. Clapton classics like "Layla," "Wonderful Tonight," and "Tears in Heaven" are easily peak moments but great blues explorations provide some of the best moments, including "Driftin' Blues" (first covered by Clapton on the 1975 release E.C. Was Here) and the show-opening "Somebody's Knockin' On My Door."
As with the recent, on-going Rolling Stones series, From the Vault (also available via Eagle Rock Entertainment), the inclusion of the entire concert as a double-disc live album is indispensable. How often do you watch a great concert video, only to find there's not enough hours in the day to revisit it (at least not often)? Having these renditions of songs like the early-career "Let It Rain" and the 1989 hit "Pretending" on CD makes for convenient listening on the go. Slowhand at 70: Live at The Royal Albert Hall is a true celebration of a music legend's career and a must-own for fans.