Review by Eric Torrison
What an amazing night last night was! I can’t get “Sweet Wine” and “I’m So Glad” out of my mind. But before sharing the concert, something unbelievable happened Monday afternoon. As soon as my wife and I arrived from Seattle on Monday and dropped off our bags at the flat we were staying at, we walked to the Royal Albert Hall for a tour. We were hoping to see the stage being set up and maybe see the band! When we started our 2:45 tour, our guide told us we would not have backstage access as is normally done because the stage was being set up, and wouldn’t be able to see the inside of the hall either. However, that all changed shortly after the tour started. We were allowed to sit 3 suites down from the Queen’s box while our guide conducted that part of the tour. After a few minutes, my wife said “There’s Eric!” After a moment, he started playing a few chords. The 7 of us on the tour couldn’t believe it! A few minutes later, Jack came on stage. Then about 5 minutes later, there was Ginger! We started hoping we’d be in for a treat. And we were.
Jack picked up his bass, Ginger sat behind the drums and they played “I’m So Glad.” We couldn’t believe it! After the song, we heard Ginger talking, and one of us thought he was apologizing to Jack and Eric that he had screwed up something in the song. How cool! We left to continue the next part of the tour trying to grasp the fact we had witnessed Cream doing the sound check for possibly their last 4 concerts. I couldn’t tell what song was playing after we left the hall (might have been “Pressed Rat and Wart Hog but am not sure), but we ended up in the balcony. They were still on stage, and when we heard that wonderful intro into “Badge” we started going crazy. The man next to me who last saw Cream in Brussels (?) had his mouth wide open from beginning to end. Then they did “Sitting On Top of the World.” Our guide had to wrap up the tour, so we headed back downstairs on cloud nine. Several minutes later, our guide heard Eric had left the building.
I had kept looking around the arena and estimated approximately 20 others were present besides us: technicians and others setting up. Certainly no more than 30. We believe we were the only members of the general public who saw the sound check. This was an experience we will never forget.
On to last night’s concert. What can I say? We had the pleasure to watch three of the world’s greatest musicians have a great time together. They seemed loose and, while not perfect, sounded wonderful. Who can expect perfection since they hadn’t toured for over 35 years and matured in different directions since? My concern going in was they would sound thin since they had no one filling in on piano, background guitar, etc. but my fears were unfounded. They did an excellent job covering the parts and sounded much better than many previous live recordings. Jack looked great and played great. Ginger, after working to loosen his right arm after about the third through sixth songs, hit his stride. Eric was, of course, Eric. Fantastic. But so were Jack and Ginger.
“I’m So Glad” really got the place rocking. “Spoonful” was outstanding – easily one of the highlights. “Sleepy Time, Time” was very, very well done. Jack and Eric absolutely nailed the vocals. The only disappointment about “Badge” is Eric didn’t do a longer version like he did on his previous 2 tours. While we held our standing ovation to see if he would, they went right into “Politician.” But oh, how great “Sweet Wine” sounded. I hoped it would never end. From our seats in the choir, “Rollin’ & Tumblin’” was fun to watch. The crowd swayed back and forth during this gem. “Deserted Cities of the Heart” deserved a bigger response from the crowd in my judgment. This was the first song that at least most of the audience didn’t give a standing ovation for. Maybe they didn’t remember it – it sounded great. I had hoped they might open with this.
“White Room” got us to our feet. What a joy to watch Jack and Eric take turns singing. Jack singing the first and second verses, Eric the choruses and watching them smile at each other as they switched back and forth. Then Jack took it all on the final verse and nailed the chorus. What a slice of heaven. Then Ginger made Max Roach proud as he pounded the drums on “Toad.” Wow. Especially for a 65 year old who, by his own admission, has been rumored dead so many times. He was awesome. “Sunshine of Your Love” was a perfect end to an incredible evening. We were all hoping they would do an additional one or two (I Feel Free? SWLABR?) as final encores on their last night, but we left very happy.
We capped it all off by seeing Pete Brown at the Hard Rock Café. Never having seen him before, it was good to see him and enjoyed the passion he put into his singing.
While the selfish part of me wants to be able to say we were there for the last concert they will ever do together, they’ve got to do a final reunion tour – not only for the fans but for their own enjoyment. They were having so much fun out there; it would be a shame for it all to end now. My glimmer of hope: after “Sunshine of Your Love” they did a single bow together, walked off the stage and never came out for a curtain call. Not something you would expect if they were never to play together again.
Very well done, gentlemen. You are still The Cream!
Review by Old Blue
Cream never toured Japan. If they are a legend in Britain and America, their status over here is almost mythical, as we couldn’t experience their live performance in their prime time, the sixties. It is no surprise that, not only thousands of the Americans crossed the Atlantic but also a fair number of the Japanese, including yours truly, flew over Eurasia to catch this ‘once in a lifetime’ event.
I saw Monday 2nd and Friday 6th, the first and the last nights. Frankly speaking, I have to confess that I was a little bit disappointed at first that Eric played a Strat. But looking back from now, when the concerts are over, I can say for sure that everything was fine, after all. If Cream had survived into early seventies, considering that Eric’s transition from Gibson to Fender occurred during this period, we may well have witnessed ‘Cream equipped with Strat’. And the solo may have been reduced in length, like they did this time, as they became increasingly weary of the long, meandering jam which went more and more repetitious, self-indulgent and less motivated as they stated later.
They weren’t time slipped from the sixties into now. What we saw is the twenty-first century Cream. And they were BRILLIANT.
As much as I am more than satisfied with the way the show went along, let me add a few comments.
As I indicated above, they don’t have to do a long ‘marathon’ one after another anymore — that respected, I wish they had treated us with one — and one is enough — fifteen-minute performance of a song. Just a little spoon of your precious jam would have satisfied our soul… As many cited, Stormy Monday was certainly one of the highlights of the show with the breathtaking solo from Eric. Yet still, I couldn’t help but feel that part was more like Eric Clapton And His Band than Cream, especially on Monday 2nd. It was supposed to be Eric’s showcase piece, but for that purpose, Steppin’ Out (shorter version) would have been more welcome in my humble opinion. Theme For An Imaginary Western must have been a real treat. Hearing this ‘most desired imaginary Cream song’ accompanied with Eric’s guitar would be a dream-come-true.
But all of the above are minor complaints, as compared with the sheer brilliance of the show.
What is most wonderful — and ironical as well — about this whole reunion thing is, that the overall performance was much better and fulfilling than that of the farewell show which happened at the same venue nearly thirty-seven years ago and was captured on the BBC film — that fact alone tells enough of the triumphant nature of the event.
Review by Jazz Sinclair
I was lucky enough to see 2 nights’ shows with our boys, the opener on Monday, which was definitely a highly-emotion charged event, and the closer on Friday. Friday’s show was quite a bit tighter musically than Mondays, and had the ghost of “what if this IS the last time”, hanging over it all night long. The audience seemed to savor every song more, and definitely wanted the lads to play out a bit more on each one so that they would never end.
We had great seats again, in the Orchestra section, just a few rows back from where Jack stood on stage. The set list was identical to the other 3 nights, but tonight they seemed to play out the songs a bit longer. Probably due to the fact that they were feeling more comfortable with each other. This brings me to this comment. I have been reading some reviews by people that state that Eric, Jack & Ginger did not play as adventurously or as tight as they did in the ’60s. Here I beg to differ. From all the recordings I’ve heard from those days, and I’ve heard them all!! From the officially released Live albums to the Bootlegs, Cream in 2005 is just as dynamic as it was in 1968. One must remember that the boys played together virtually every night during the ’66 to ’68 time period, OF COURSE they were tight!!! It was also one of the causes of them breaking up. They were burnt out on each other. But Friday night, they were relishing each moment playing together, and the looks on their faces, the comments, and glowing mutual respect they showed for each other was very evident. This time around it was topped off with a maturity and purpose they hadn’t found yet in the ’60s.They mixed the Studio Cream with the Live Cream perfectly, and showed what Cream in 2005 SHOULD sound like.
Here is my take on the set:
“I’m So Glad” – Even though I dreamed of hearing them open the shows with N.S.U., this was a classic way to start. Very similar to the version on Fresh Cream, and the vocals were tighter than Monday’s.
“Spoonful” – NO ONE will ever be able to sing this song except Jack, he sang it with so much passion, and was definitely having a great time with it as well. Eric’s old tone started to surface again! A bit longer jam than Monday’s
“Outside Woman Blues” – So glad they decided to include this in their sets. Eric’s voice and guitar playing were fabulous, much like the original version on “Gears”, just missing the second guitar harmony!
“Pressed Rat and Warthog” – A bit more serious take tonight than on Monday, but still a lot of fun. Definitely the Biggest surprise of the shows. Ginger sang it flawlessly with additional comment, and Jack re-created his Bach-influenced bass lines for the end jam. Loved Eric’s chord-work throughout the song.
“Sleepy Time Time” – This one was a gem!! I thought I was listening to Fresh Cream again. Jack’s vocals were amazing and Eric’s solo was a masterpiece! One of my favorites from the shows.
“N.S.U.” – I realized that it doesn’t matter what Eric plays through as far as equipment goes. He could make a garbage can sound great!!!And the Strat sang tonight like never before. The harmony vocals were tight, Gingers drumming was awesome, and Jack’s bass pushed the song into overdrive!
“Badge” – I always wondered what this would sound like live. And the boys pulled it off amazingly well. Jack’s opening bass riff still sends chills up and down my spine. Eric’s bridge and solo were marvelous, along with his singing. Ginger’s drums were precise and powerful. And using a real Leslie cabinet instead of an effects pedal for the opening chords of the bridge…BRILLIANT!!!
“Politician” – Another incredible performance by Jack both on vocals and bass. A very tasty solo from Eric, and great double bass work from Ginger. The song never sounded better live!
“Sweet Wine” – This one definitely sounded like Classic Cream. Jack and Ginger drove the song like a train in high gear, and Eric just wailed on the solo. I thought for a moment they were going to do an extended jam, but they used restraint, and pulled it back in.
“Rollin’ and Tumblin’” – If you closed your eyes, you would have thought you were in the middle of the Mississippi Delta listening to some old Black blues masters tearing this one up. Jack’s vocals and harmonica work were stunning. Eric on bottleneck added a very authentic feel to such a great song, and Ginger’s drumming drove it hard. Just amazing!!
“Stormy Monday” – Cream made this song their own. Not even Mayall could do a more powerful version. Jack and Ginger nailed the backing section and rhythm, and Eric proved why he is the greatest white blues guitarist alive!!
“Deserted Cities of the Heart” – Cream defining the rock trio format on one of my personal favorites. Ginger’s drumming was driving and powerful, with great fills as only Ginger can do. Jack’s vocals were superb, and his bass work anchored everything.
“Born Under a Bad Sign” – Another song I had always hoped they would do live. Jack’s vocals again were flawless, and he obviously had a great time singing this one. Eric sounded like Albert King on steroids!! And Ginger made it swing and groove like the “Wheels” version. Another Cream classic!!
“We’re Going Wrong” – For me, this was the showstopper!! The dynamics of this song were amazing! Eric played Hendrix-Like chord patterns that meshed with his original lines so beautifully I was overwhelmed. Jack’s vocals were beyond comparison, and OH!!! That falsetto!! Ginger’s drumming mirrored the original version and brought the song in and out of some amazing passages. Everyone was moved by this performance!
“Crossroads” – Although tonight’s version was a bit faster and more aggressive than Monday night’s, it is by no means the “take no prisoners” version that we have all been used to hearing from “Wheels”. This version is closer to the one Blind Faith performed in concert. It’s still brilliant, but it shows a more mature, refined Cream in 2005. Clapton’s voice and guitar were excellent, and Jack and Ginger showed why they are still the premier rhythm section for ANY band or guitarist!
“Sitting On Top Of The World” – Again another change-up from the original live version. Jack plays harp on this one in place of bass for most of the song. It’s a more “blues purist” version than what we’ve heard on “Goodbye”, but it still emanates a power that only Cream can generate when they play the blues!!
“White Room” – The opening chords make everyone’s hair stand on end!! It’s Cream playing one of their biggest hits!! Not Eric’s band, or Jack’s latest outfit… but CREAM!!! Jack’s vocals are very reminiscent of the “Wheels” version and so is his bass playing. Ginger’s drumming is just as powerful as it ever was, and Eric’s guitar work, especially the solo, is very solid. An unexpected extended jam at the end makes this one a real treat.
“Toad” – What can be said of Toad that hasn’t already been said. It’s a masterpiece performed by one of the greatest living drummers of our time. No One swings, grooves, or has the power or dexterity of Ginger Baker! His African rhythms and cannon-like delivery set him apart from every other drummer in the world. And from a sheer musical standpoint, Ginger has the best “Tuning” system of anyone, his drums sound PERFECT!! And he’s the only drummer that can pull off an extended solo and make you want to stay in your seat for the whole song.
“Sunshine of Your Love” – The song that HAS to end the night, and we all dreaded hearing the opening riff, because it marked the end of the reunion shows. It was played superbly, and the ending jam was magnificent, and when the last chord rang out, the house came down!!
Out of all the concerts I have been to, this one will always be the most memorable. It brought my all-time favorite band back together, it proved to everyone that Eric, Jack and Ginger are still, without doubt, THE CREAM, and that they can still kick some major butt!! The lads have aged very well, much like a fine wine. They have kept the spark and chemistry that made them the legendary first Super group. I can’t think of any current bands that are even in the same league as these gentlemen. And best of all… I was there to witness a concert for the ages!
Review by Rick Kent
This is the last time we walk up Prince Consort Road or Kensington Street to the Royal Albert Hall. This has been our Cream Mecca for this week.
I was relegated to the cheap seats Friday. It gave me a different view of the house. Having a quality set of binoculars helped my cause immensely. I am forever grateful to have had prime seating for the previous three nights.
Friday show was almost a repeat of Thursday. That is a bold statement considering the highs of Thursday night. I’m speaking in terms of the music not my personal fun. Thursday night could not be equaled for me. See my Thursday review for the reasons why.
After seeing the previous shows I have the set memorized almost note for note now. Each show hasn’t been that much different than the others. I can’t help but want some changes and variety.
The opener I’m So Glad was never given the proper treatment at the reunion. A slower pace and sharp edges replaced the wailing desperate vocals of all the known live recordings. It was great to hear this song but it took me until the final show to accept it this way. It was done best on Tuesday.
Every show the amps were miked for recording much like the old days. Certainly this means a Live Cream 3 album soon?
Spoonful was hot again but after Thursday the bar was set very high. They came through again. Many feel (like I do) that this is Cream’s signature song. I would prefer Spoonful to be the encore. Better yet the second encore! Eric gets into some soloing here and gets to playing back and forth with Jack. I like those two notes. This is some surly; growling lyrics Jack lays on us. Cream took this song and made it their own. Eat your heart out Willie Dixon.
Outside Women Blues felt like a surprise every night and done well each time. It’s Eric’s first time to shine on vocals. This song tells us the band is going to dig deep in their catalog for all the favorites. Disraeli Gears album (or is it derailleur gears?) rarely got a mention in their tours of old with the exception of Sunshine and Tales Of Brave Ulysses.
I’m looking forward to Pressed Rat & Warthog each night now. What a fun song and it gets the most applause Friday. Once again Jack and Ginger crack each other up during this number. There has to be an inside joke between them (?). Whatever happened to these guys
hating each other? It’s like a party on stage. These guys are having the time of their lives!
After this tune Ginger has made sure we are aware that Pressed Rat is selling T-Shirts and hats. Every show he wears a different Reunion concert T-Shirt to help Pressed Rat close the deal. I get the feeling Ginger is sporting all the profits from the Reunion concession stands.
My favorite two songs from the first Live album are done back to back here. NSU and Sleepy Time Time.
Eric nails down the blues on Sleepy Time Time with some good solo work but I did want more of Jack’s bass here. Some are disappointed Eric didn’t pull out a Gibson SG for this set of shows. Sure didn’t bother me. It’s all in the fingers and he has the touch! Sleepy Time Time gets a great response every night. This is the number I’ll remember most from the reunion shows. It’s the first one that brought tears to my eyes. It was not so much the song as much as Eric’s soloing. I was finally seeing Cream. I get emotional just writing about it.
N.S.U. was superb. Same as Thursday! Awesome! Will they give us a long extended jam? The answer was always no but on Thursday and Friday they dig in for about four minutes worth. It’s almost good enough for me. I was never there for one of those legendary extended improvisations. I will leave the week with at least one unanswered question.
Badge was so powerful all week. I am now a fan of this song. Badge was never on the top of my list of Cream songs. Now I can’t stop singing it in my head. On the vocals Eric went a little higher on the highs and lower on the lows. Ginger hit the snare with such power and emphasize at the start of each verse. POP! Maybe we can call this one Eric’s signature song. We’ll talk about Crossroads in just a bit.
Badge transitions straight into Politician.
Hey now baby, get into my big black car, I wanna just show ya, what my politics are. How sweet it is to hear these words. It just doesn’t get old after four reunion shows and listening to it many thousands of times for the past 37 years. Jack gets it going but Eric shares duty midway through. A Cream classic song which got another long stand up applause.
Sweet Wine. The audience never picked up on how good this song is. This is one of the few songs that Ginger wrote. I liked it. No one else seemed to care that much.
Rollin’ & Tumblin’ with Jack on the harp. Wow! They hit us good with this one every show. Even a Brit kid reviewer in the London Telegraph said they performed this one well. He didn’t give too much credit to anything else accept Badge and Toad. His picture looked like he was born 15 years after they last appeared at RAH. He should stick to punk rock reviews. Jack’s energy on Rollin’ & Tumblin’ makes you forget he’s aged at all. With Eric matching Jack’s harp note for note and Ginger on the brushes this number made me want to go for run in the aisles. Long applause here!
Eric worked in a T-Bone Walker number Stormy Monday to make his blues statement. You could see Eric was totally consumed with this one every night. On Monday I was a tad insulted when a non-Cream song was worked into the set but after it was done he had me sold me on it. His eyes were closed for most of the song except while singing. Another reunion highlight.
Deserted Cities Of The Heart was awesome but crowd response was on par with Sweet Wine. It gets a nice applause and even an ovation on Friday. This was the opener for much of the ’68 US Tour. I only wish I could have been there too.
Born Under A Bad Sign. Oh yes, oh yes! Jack sings his heart out here. Clapton plays Albert King. Jack just wails the last part and the crowd is into it. “Bad luck and trouble”. “Bad luck!” “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have not luck at all”. over and over. High, low, slow and we loved it. And that blues guitar of Eric. OK I’ve changed my mind. This was the best song of the reunion. I dig Jack Bruce and he makes this song his. He gets mean and nasty here. I like it.
Back to Gears again with We’re Going Wrong. I was bored with this one Monday but now it just seems so incredible. It fills up the hall well and the pace of the show slows down like we need a little break. Jack moans the verse so well and takes us on a brief dark journey. This song gets much better applause the final two shows. It’s at this point I begin to realize we are seeing the last bits of Cream RAH ‘05. Absorb all you can. Dig it while you can and don’t forget any of it.
Crossroads gears up but it takes just a bit for the audience to realize what song it is. It’s done at a mellow pace all week. I like it but it’s not the high energy Winterland version we all know and love.
The chords are much more deliberate with stops and corners.
I felt people were a bit harsh on this version. It’s great but different.
My only real disappointment of the week was the almost total lack of Jack’s bass on Sitting On Top Of The World. He plays his harp instead and shifts to his bass but without emphasis. On Goodbye Album you get the feeling he’s trying to break windows with his bass line (five blocks away!). I wanted that bass line and didn’t get it. Chester Burnett (aka: Howlin’ Wolf) would have preferred this reunion version probably.
White Room gets good treatment but you get the feeling they’ve all played this one a lot since their breakup. Just not together. Jack has done it in his shows, same for Eric. I like the little jam at the end. You know it’s getting close to the end of the concert here. If you hadn’t been here the previous shows you could see it in their faces. The unexpected and really cool jam at the end of White Room (Thursday & Friday) was one of the reunion high points for me as well.
Toad! Tonight there was no wait until the end of Toad for the rush to the stage. It was total mayhem. This old couple on the front row got engulfed by the swarm. Their charming front row seats turned into seventh row standing room only. A 70’s couple in the front row of a Cream concert? What’s wrong with this picture? I love it.
Ginger Baker started the rock concert drum solo craziness. He’s one of about three players that can get away with it. John Bonham? Keith Moon? I guess that makes only one now. RIP John and Keith. You were good too but Ginger is best. He has the touch, the swing, the beat. I positioned myself up high and above him with my binoculars to get a bird’s eye view of his technique. His legs are constantly moving. You see his arms flailing all over his kit but folks let me tell you, those legs of his are going at a furious pace behind the bass drums and high hat. He has to be in incredible shape for this energy output. How does this chain smoking rock and roll legend do it?
He seems to focus on the various elements of the drum kit for 20-30 seconds at a time. He tackles the little cow bells (he has two) and symbol centers with fury. Stay on the Tom’s Ginger. That’s pure sex.
For you percussion experts out there you may see some loss of power in Ginger Baker but I don’t. No one else holds those sticks at the ends of the fingers the way he does. He is subtle. He is without peer. He is the Jimi Hendrix of the rock drummers.
They give us the bows and leave the stage. Everyone knows they’ll come back for Sunshine. I desperately wanted a second encore for this last night. Strange Brew would be good. How about I Feel Free?
They give us Sunshine with the same spirit and gusto as Thursday. Awesome! The same killer jam as if their lives depended on it. It was what we came to see. Yah Hoo! This was the last and final night of Cream Reunion Royal Albert Hall 2005. Keep it GOING guys! Just keep it going longer. One more encore. Do anything but just stay on the stage!
Then they were gone. If this were 1968 not one member of the audience would have left. The applause would have been deafening. The applause and demands for a second and third encore would have continued. You could turn the lights on, turn on some mellow house muzak and the kids would not have left. We would have demanded a return to the stage!
But this is not 1968. We are in a different age now. All of us. We are older now. Cream is older. They were real good for these reunion shows. The best. The best of all of the rock acts of all time.
They really are the Cream. I hope we somehow get a chance to do this again.
Review By S. Thorburn
Cream’s last show for our 2005 RAH run was a marvelous if dignified, understated set, in celebration of Eric Clapton’s 60th birthday. Sporting a new ‘blackie’ strat and a remodeled version of his characteristic bobbed and split fringe hair cut, Eric resembled more closely his classic solo era than the ‘Afro’ Cream look. This served to remind us of the individual transition that each member has been through, with the RAH providing psychedelic lighting and a wonderful backdrop which formed a suitable time piece for Jack, Ginger and Eric’s role play. There was a certain sense of maturity with each musician capturing beautifully the quintessence of themselves and no one had lost any dexterity or technique.
With expectations running high for this finale, the set list was the same as the previous nights, establishing equilibrium. ‘I’m So Glad’, ‘Spoonful’, ‘Outside Woman Blues’, sounded loud and authentically strong; the concert had begun, with each number resembling so closely the original CD’s I had played through earlier in the day. Cream was fundamentally an utterly unique ‘Strange Brew’ of egos and abilities. Eric’s concept was for a modern blues outfit, with some country-blues, updating version of songs by his heroes like Robert Johnson, Son House. At the first rehearsal, Jack Bruce arrived with freshly penned material from his collaborations with beat poet Pete Brown and it became immediately clear that the shape of things was yet to be defined. EC, Jack, Ginger and Jack’s wife Janet Godfrey all excelled themselves in the song writing credits during the band’s brief lifecycle. Every salient component of Cream’s repertoire and history was reflected and updated at the reunion as a fitting reward for those who had secured a ticket from the cherished limited ration!
Executing a vintage ‘sweet wine’ for the new millennium, no roots were forgotten as tonight’s star of the set was Ginger, introduced by Eric as the, ‘Gentleman from Nelson, Mr. Peter Edward Baker’, who went on to perform a dead pan version of ‘Pressed Rat and Warthog’. Material like this and ‘Mother’s Lament’ exposes a Python genre satire and intellect always so important to a successful band. ‘Sleepy Time’ and ‘NSU’ were followed by some crowd pleasers, ‘Badge’ and the topical ‘Politician’. Eric seemed to be walking through some remarkably natural soloing. The origins of his revolutionary Gibson SG and Marshall amp and his sustained ‘woman tone’ simply defined rock and roll guitar during its infancy. Tonight his playing was rich in tone and unplugged without the back- up of a second guitar or keyboards, (and notably without a Gibson). Following ‘Sweet Wine’ the stand out of the show for me was ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’ exploring the deceptively simple pounding beat of Ginger with Jack’s animated harmonica line raging.
There was a slightly more popularist section to follow next with the old chestnut ‘Stormy Monday’, ‘Deserted Cities Of The Heart’ and ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’. ‘We’re Going Wrong’ was punctuated with Jack’s hugely strong vocals, which could have transposed the audience anywhere throughout his illustrious career from The Graham Bond Org., Manfred Man to his recent solo album More Jack Than God. This artist is a survivor like his colleagues and he has overcome major health problems with great dignity. The archetypal ‘Crossroads’ was delivered a little paced down to Wheels Of Fire, and surprisingly ‘White Room’ featured Eric taking on vocal duties during the chorus section.. The total highlight of the set yet to come, as everyone took a well- earned break allowing Ginger to deliver his piece de resistance ‘Toad’ for a good eight of so minutes. Amid speculation of his changing technique through arthritis he truly put an end to such conjecture, demonstrating his jazz-rock- African orientated fusion with a breathtaking athletic confidence. The sun then came out just one last time for the encore of ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’. There could be no better last number to pay tribute to the Cream songbook, played with great vigor as the evening slipped into darkness and came to an end. Perhaps the only aspect missing from the night was the formal acknowledgement by an M.C. of a beginning, middle and end to this dream, become reality concert. The lack of verbal introduction saw Cream 2005 silent witnesses to the unfolding of their own piece of significant musical history. No less a high octane experience, although the amps were no longer set up too high. Undoubtedly, the musical product of ‘Cream’ is now a gift delivered to us by three accomplished gentlemen, rather than a series of Pyrrhic victories and angst fought out amongst talented young pretenders.
Review by Stephen Taylor
I have been privileged to see many great concerts in my time…from The Beatles in 65….Cream in 67….Jack Bruce with Tony Williams in Lifetime and many more over the years, including Eric Clapton at every incarnation of his solo career. I have spent many a great evening at the RAH seeing Eric and his band followed by a drink and a chat backstage. However, nothing I can remember could match the emotion, passion and intense joy of this show. The final night of the week lived up to expectations and beyond. The atmosphere was electric and buzzing….the lights went down and on they came, Eric Jack and Ginger walked on to a 5 minute tumultuous standing ovation before they even played a note! They opened the show with I’m So Glad by Skip James…played as if for the first time full of enthusiasm and fun. Then Spoonful…Outside Woman Blues and a surprise inclusion of Pressed Rat & Warthog sung by Ginger and sounding great. Sleepy Time Time and then NSU….the show then took off….the raw power of all three showing the interplay of 37 years ago but without the long and sometimes tedious solos….tonight every note counted and each song left you wanting more – perfect. Jack then began the intro to Badge and the song sounded raw and beautiful – Cream never performed it live – as it was meant to sound …incredible. The show was climbing to dizzy heights with Politician, Sweet Wine, Rollin’ & Tumblin’, Stormy Monday, Deserted Cities of the Heart and Born under a Bad Sign. Each song better than the last and the audience now realising they were witnessing something very special….in the box behind me was sitting another guitar legend Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin ….he was smiling at the stage and was obviously enjoying himself. We’re Going Wrong was a highlight for Jack’s vocals and great subtle interplay between all three…moody and magnificent. Then the great Crossroads – I was always apprehensive about the comparisons to the live recorded version from 1968. The pace unlike solo Clapton versions was the same as Cream’s version…a great start…the solo was awesome…wow…the three musicians displaying a heavenly interplay which has never left them…even after nearly four decades. Sitting on Top of the World and White Room followed sounding better as a three piece than with a large band. Then Ginger showed he was no slouch despite his years (65) as he tore into Toad and simply wiped the floor with any drummer Eric Clapton has used since going solo…..Ginger swings like no-one else. The encore was Sunshine of your Love – just like in 1968. Eric Clapton once said that Ginger was the only drummer who could play it properly……and he did it proud. As did Eric and Jack. All too soon the show was over. The audience was ecstatic and were smiling at each other having shared a wonderful musical experience. These shows will be talked about for a long time….hopefully the live album and double DVD will do the shows proud. However, I would really like to see another studio release – now that would be something. Well done Eric Jack & Ginger for doing these shows…the interplay was stunning, the playing beautiful and the enjoyment was there for everyone to see. You guys started out as dear friends…stay that way now and make more music – the 37 year wait was too long !!!
Review by Ann Crick
Just one word sums it up – awesome! Probably the best night of my life. I must have had the best seat in the house – centre front row, thanks to my son being the first caller through to the Royal Albert Hall when the box office opened.
The set list was the same as previous nights, sadly no I Feel Free or Tales of Brave Ulysses, but We’re Going Wrong and a rocking Rollin’& Tumblin’ almost made up for this. Eric, Jack and Ginger were on fine form, and truly seemed to enjoy every minute – as did the audience. It was worth the wait – I last saw Cream on 23rd May and 28th November 1967, both times at the Marquee (yes, the 28th November gig did take place), and the magic is still there. I’ve seen Eric play many many times, but this was something else. My son, his girlfriend, and my daughter, who were with me tonight now understand my 39 year obsession with Cream. The legend lives on. I just kept wishing it was groundhog day and I could do it again and again. I can’t wait for the DVD, but it’s a long time until October.
Thanks to all at Where’s Eric! for keeping us informed of ticket sales, and for the updates and reviews. Thanks too to the doctors for making Jack well again.