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Going to Cream at MSG in NYC on 10/24 !!!!

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Review: Cream Live at the Royal Albert Hall
22nd May 2005

Cream live at the Royal Albert Hall, London Friday May 6th 2005

Rarely does a rock concert come with such emotional baggage. Its been 37 years since the three men before me played together in this very venue, the Royal Albert Hall on November 26th 1968. But tonight, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker have put over three decades of hate to one side for the last of four sold-out concerts as the worlds first supergroup return to London. A generation has passed, both for band and audience fans who may have seen them first time round in the sixties are now grandparents, pension claimers and senior citizens. They have this in common with their heroes on stage.

Clapton, now 60 is the only one of the three who is still as good as he was, but one notices the absence of fire that was in his belly all those years ago. Effortlessly pulling out unbelievable solo, lick, riff after another, he wowed the audience with his distinctive tone and technique. Bruce, at 62 can still sing with as much venom and power as those thirty years his junior, and his bass playing was exceptional, despite having to warm his hands after each song to prevent the onslaught of lingering arthritis. I was most impressed however by Peter Ginger Baker arguably the greatest drummer of all time. At 65, and with severe osteo-arthritis in his back, he dazzled the audience with a fine display of experimental time keeping, signature fills and a 15 minute drum solo in which he mixed a variety of rudiments, grooves and skills, striking his toms with passion and incredible precision.

Never before has a band of this size made the transition from musical pioneers, the cream of their respective instrumental fields to nostalgic gatekeepers, making a final farewell to their fans in such an enormous, sudden step. Their reward of course was a standing ovation after every number; testament to a group who had a knack for writing consistently popular material, the audience knew every word, and every intricacy of guitar playing that went with it. The on-stage musicianship was a much friendlier affair than speculation suggests no drumsticks were launched at Bruces head, and they seemed genuinely happy to be side by side. At the announcement of the shows in January, Baker said, At the reunion well play music together, but we dont have to talk to each other. I havent spoken to Jack for years. Cream split up in 1968 because I couldnt stand being in his presence. But the old adversaries grinned in each others direction as they opened with Im so glad. The second number, Spoonful of loving, featured Claptons first solo of the evening and set the tone for a performance packed with greatest hits, including Stormy Monday, Sitting on top of the world, White Room, and Politician, where Bruces vocal excellency was showcased to the highest extreme. The only disappointment of the night was the rather plodded rendition of Crossroads, which lacked the electrifying drama of the original, as featured on their 1967 Wheels of Fire album.

The four shows at their favourite venue sold out within minutes, and despite a face value of £125, they were advertised on the internet for as much as £2000 a go. There were younger members present in the huge audience than I a nod perhaps toward the amazing influential aspects of Cream.

Inevitably, at some times, Cream did sound like a band out of their era many of their lyrics belong in the golden age of flower power, but they also proved that there is no substitute for great musicianship. At a time when tabloids, magazines and media are criticising older musicians for continuing to record and tour, Clapton and co convinced me that there is a place today for yesterdays musicians all theyre doing is encouraging and influencing tomorrows superstars. Nobody can turn back the clock, and Cream, in truth, didnt really try. It was a great thrill to see one of my favourite bands who Id convinced myself Id never see live in concert and greater still that I should be there with my father an original Cream fan, our interpretations of the show were very much the same, attestation to the fact that three men, armed only with guitar, bass, two amps and a drumkit can still break through generation barriers with dazzling music.

Ive been to hundreds of gigs, but this was absolutely the best. Remarkably, the chemistry is still there, and it was a pleasure to be a part of it.

Review by: Adam Lewis


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Gary----Well what do you think I was smoking back then? Blue Cheer was good, I saw them a couple of times.

I liked Cream but I thought they were overrated. They lacked direction and didn't know what they wanted to do and did a lot of poor songs, the good stuff was buried in a lot of chaff, I only liked two songs from Disraeli Gears and one from Fresh. In addition they must shoulder a great deal of blame for the trend to self-indulgent hippy-dippy jam songs that ran on way too long. The Ramones were the anti-Cream.

Compared to the Jimi Hendrix Experience I think Baker was a plodding drummer compared to Mitchell and Redding was a much more solid bassplayer than Bruce. Oh yeah, I think Hendrix was the better guitarist and wrote much better songs. The Experience was a tight performing unit, Cream flew off in different directions at once.

In any case the best band of the era was Credence. IMO.

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I must admit I was never a huge Cream fan either although I did like them. Hard not to. Every song seemed to be a hit but so was any song from a Clapton-led group. I'd still like to see them.

I never saw Blue Cheer live and I never have had any desire to. I did own a few of their albums until I gave them away recently. They didn't do much for me. I spent most of my wasted youth listening to the Dead anyway.

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