Venue: Royal Albert Hall
City: South Kensington, London
Country: United Kingdom
01. I’m So Glad
03. Outside Woman Blues
04. Pressed Rat and Wart Hog
05. Sleepy Time, Time
09. Sweet Wine
10. Rollin’ & Tumblin’
11. Stormy Monday
12. Deserted Cities of the Heart
13. Born Under a Bad Sign
14. We’re Going Wrong
16. Sitting on Top of the World
17. White Room
19. Sunshine of Your Love (encore)
Review by Ken Claggett
Eric has never played better … ever. Jack’s voice is as strong and spine-tingling as it ever was – if Eric is God then Jack is God’s voice. Ginger was a monster, merrily throwing out his signature fills and rolls with the loose-precision that is his trademark and providing the perfect bed and counterpoints to Jack and Eric’s playing. It was obvious from the start they were there for more than Jack and Ginger’s “retirement fund”. The love and respect they have for their own music poured out with each note and from the huge smiles they gave each other and audience throughout the show. The tremendous musical chemistry they had nearly four decades ago was never more evident and was only enhanced by the chops and experience they’ve gained in the intervening years. Their picture should be next to the word “synergy” in the dictionary, because Cream brings out far more inspired musical magic than its members can muster on their own. Here’s hoping they find a way to do some more shows and, dare I say it, maybe visit the studio and gift the world some new Cream music.
Review by Gill Young
It was with some trepidation that I went along to The Albert Hall on Monday night, 37 years after the last time I trotted along there to see Cream. Would they still be able to deliver? I knew Eric hadn’t lost his golden touch but was he still up to the electricity and vitality that used to be Cream? And Ginger – the legendary drummer – would he still be physically fit enough to play in his old inimitable way? And finally, Jack – we all know about his health problems – would he still be the voice of Cream? I was also a bit concerned that the problems and differences that led to the break-up would spoil the vibe of the gig. I needn’t have had a single worry – from the minute the audience rose to their feet at 8.05 when the guys took to the stage, the atmosphere was electric, spine-tingling and unforgettable. Eric played like the Rock God that he is, Ginger was just amazing (especially during the 10 minute version of Toad) and Jack’s voice took us all tripping back to the 60’s. The set list was awesome – one legendary track after another. The only slight disappointment was the absence of I Feel Free and Strange Brew – but, hey, the guys delivered and it was worth the wait. Don’t listen to the critics – they are talking out of their arses and obviously aren’t true Cream fans.
Review by Rick Kent
Tonight was pure magic. When they walked out at about 8:20 the place went bonkers as you can imagine. At 48 years old I was a youngster in this crowd.
They opened with I’m So Glad then came Spoonful. I’m already forgetting the set list by order but I can tell you that the only song they didn’t do that I wished they would have was Strange Brew. They did everything you’d want plus a few you’d never expect. Pressed Rat and Warthog! It came about #4 and to tell you the truth it was kind of cool. I forgot that they didn’t do Tales of Brave Ulysses either 🙁
High point for me was early on with Sleepy Time Time and N.S.U. Clapton was ON in Sleepy Time Time in that middle section.
The concert really opened up and they finally stretched their legs with Rollin and Tumblin which was about half way in or a little past that.
Toad was awesome. Ginger Baker hasn’t lost a thing but this song and all the other songs that would normally be 12+ were cut back. No 20 minute extended jams but wouldn’t have allowed for so many songs.
Only one encore. Surprise… Ta, ta….. Sunshine. No surprise there but only one encore was disappointing. All around me felt two encores would have been more appropriate given the circumstances.
Review by Bob Feldman – Austin, TX
I’ll never forget the first time I heard Cream. I was thirteen and my friend Les Fohr invited me over to listen to two newly released albums, one with a psychedelic cover by “some guy” named Jimi Hendrix and the other by a group named Cream. Being a guitar player, I had been exposed to Clapton’s playing on his records with the Yardbirds and John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers but I was not prepared for what I was about to hear. Thirty seconds into “I Feel Free” a huge smile developed on my face and it has remained there for thirty-eight years. As a kid, I lived in New Jersey and when Cream finally came to Madison Square Garden on their “Goodbye” tour, tickets sold out fast and I got shut out. Over the years I got to see all the major rock bands (as well as that “other guy” Les played for me on that memorable day) but I always had this musical hole that needed to be filled. Redemption! The rock and roll gods saw fit to make sure I got two tickets to Creams opening night reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall. I was finally going to get my chance to see one of the truly great bands of all time and certainly my favorite. It was more than worth the wait and the cost (London ain’t cheap). Surreal and euphoric best describe my feelings when Eric, Jack and Ginger walked out onto the stage. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to finally see them together on the same stage at the same time.
Upon the band playing those first few notes of “I’m So Glad”, my smile got even bigger and a new, indelible one was created on my fourteen year old son as well (a huge Cream fan himself). It took a few songs in my opinion for the band to get comfortable with each other but it was all pure magic after that.
Eric played through what appeared to be the two Fender twin tweed amps he used at the Crossroads festival in Dallas last year, a Leslie cabinet and a newer black Strat. I did not miss the fact that he wasn’t using his old “Gibson SG, 335, Les Paul, Firebird through a Marshall stack” sound at all. His playing was fluid and his tone was thick enough to hold up the guitar end of any three piece band.
Jack was….well, classic Jack Bruce. He has gotten even better over the years if that’s that possible. He played through four Hartke bass cabinets and an extra cabinet with an 18″ speaker to the left. Although his tone was cleaner than he used to use in the past, it sounded awesome.
The most improved player award goes to Ginger. His time was impeccable and his drum sounds were the best I have ever heard him get.
They played “Spoonful” as their second song and as I suspected they would, kept it down in length. The band did a really nice job on “Rollin’ and Tumblin” with Eric accompanying Jacks harp on slide. Jack dropped the harmonica in the middle of the song but picked it up right on cue. Later in the set, the audience went crazy when Jack went into “Badge” and cheered wildly when Eric played that famous “D” chord progression in the middle of the song. Jack’s singing on “We’re Going Wrong” was incredible. It was one of the most memorable moments of the evening. I got chills when he sang it. Don’t’ miss it when the DVD comes out. Eric and Jack split the vocals on “White Room” and Eric’s vocal performance on it was one of his best ever. They did a great job on “Crossroads” although it was a little bit subdued. Ginger played it with a slightly different feel than the original live version we are familiar with but hey, it was still “Crossroads”. Being one of the best, if not the best guitar solo of all time, it would be unfair to compare this night’s version to the historic “Wheels of Fire” performance but it was awesome just the same. They ended the set with “Toad” and Ginger was firing on all cylinders. He seemed to be in a great mood all night and it really showed during his performance. An encore of “Sunshine” with a tremendous solo by Eric left the audience and me wanting more. They played almost every song possible although I was a little disappointed that they didn’t play “I Feel Free”. Maybe they saved that for one of the other three nights.
It was one of the most historical nights in rock history and I’m so glad, I’m so glad, I’m glad, I’m glad, I’m glad they decided to play together one last time.
Review by Teddy McDonald
I was born some 6 years after Cream played their farewell gig in 1968, however, their music is the reason I picked up the guitar and became the respected player I am today. Monday night’s performance was electric. Eric’s solos were like nothing he has played for decades, Jack’s voice as perfect as back in the 60’s, and Ginger’s power was astounding. To Ginger, Jack and Eric – “Thank You!” Sometimes, those little dreams actually do come true.
Review by Craig Fields
I just returned from London to my home in New Jersey and actually just walked in the door 5 minutes ago. One word describes my experience last night, unbelievable!!!! This was a last minute jaunt for a friend and me as we were lucky enough to score some second row seats so the whole trip was kind of expensive but worth every penny. As I said to my friend on the way home. “It doesn’t get any better than that.” We see about 20 -30 concerts a year depending on who’s in town etc… And I just don’t know how anyone can match what we saw last night. I even tried to listen to some other music on MP3 player but it could not stand up to Cream so all I did was listen to Cream songs over and over again for the seven hour journey.
Jack and Eric were just fierce with riff after riff flowing from both musicians as Ginger kept the train moving. I have seen Eric a number oftimes as well as Jack and this was by far the best I have seen either play.
I do not need to go into details on each song but I can say that if I am on the DVD release I am the guy that couldn’t take the smile off his face. Thank you gentleman, and Eric, it was worth the wait!
Review by Leuan Rees
In November of 1968 I was only six months old. A huge fan of Clapton for the last twenty years I had resigned myself to never seeing the legendary Cream in action. After many hours on the telephone I managed to acquire some tickets.
When the band took the stage and launched into I’m So Glad all of the waiting came to an end. Released from his band leader role EC was playing like a demon. Strangely perhaps not with the fire and verve of his recent solo tour. Whether it was first night nerves or unease at not being in charge I do not know. His playing was still mighty and the solo in White Room was worth the admission price alone. There were a couple of mistakes from each musician but these were forgiven easily. A few classics did not make the set (no Strange Brew) and Crossroads never really took off. Just hearing Cream performing those epic songs was enough though.
Bruce’s vocals were nearly a match for Eric’s soloing; Baker’s unique style a treat to behold. Whilst they never set off into the experimental ten minute free for alls of the live recordings it was clear that each was a master. A great experience and a dream realised! Was it worth £125 for a little over two hours of music? You bet! I would have paid practically anything to witness Cream reform.
Review by Austin Sayer / Weston-super-mare, UK
To Eric, Jack and Ginger… ignore any negative comments from the media on the 2nd of May show and take my word as a Rock Drummer that had been inspired way back in the 60`s by you 3 teaming up…last night mistakes and all you 3 were terrific and fully restored my faith in Rock Music. I remembered I last saw you in Bristol`s Lucarno Ballroom. oh it must have been early 68…well it is a long, long time ago.
As a drummer through a few numbers I was feeling for Ginger at times, but then came the solo which I have to say was nothing short of blistering and demonstrated to me why I started playing drums, Buddy Rich if he is looking down on you Ginger would have been proud of you last night.
As for Jack, it was good to hear that raw voice again that sounded as good as ever and as for Eric, well the there I am lost for words. I ask all those critics how many 3 piece units have they ever seen that even come close to Cream? and how many trios have ever created that awesome power?
I know now there will never ever be another CREAM.
I wish I could have seen all the shows, but I was extremely grateful that I was able to see one….God Bless you all.
Review by Ben Wener
“So after the whole ticket fiasco, the time for the mighty Cream to take to the stage finally came round. To say I was excited was one thing. To say I was really fucking nervous was another. The one thing holding me back from this whole reunion thing was the prospect of being disappointed. Cream being one of my favourite bands had to deliver. It wasn’t so much Clapton I was worried about. I’ve seen him a few times live and being my favourite guitarist, I know he can keep it cool and deliver. Ginger and Bruce however were another story. Could Ginger still rip it up on drums? Could Bruce make those thumping basslines echo round the Royal Albert Hall…? The answer? Fuck yes they could. As soon as they came on stage and proceeded to play ‘I’m so glad’, the gods of rock put my mind at rest and little did I know that I was about to witness one of the greatest music spectacles I have ever seen.
Being 24, I obviously never got to see Cream the first time round. The cheesy farewell concert with the dodgy voice over talking about ‘Electronic Guitars’ was a bit weird. My only experience of Live Cream was listening to err…….Live Cream. I was hoping there would be much improvised jamming and was especially hoping for some cracking guitar work from Clappers, and that’s exactly what I got. This is the best vie seen Clapton play (I previously thought his playing on the Crossroads DVD was his best) Even though there wasn’t a Fool SG, 335 or Les Paul in sight, (It was Strats all the way imp afraid) his tone was fantastic. It was thick and creamy and his amps oozed tone. His midboost must have been all the way up most of the time as he was so loud and he sustained for days. Spoonful was almost haunting; I can still hear it now.
Bruce was also brilliant. His voice was booming and those basslines cut through the mix so well and were a perfect complement to Clapton’s cutting soloing. He really looked like he was enjoying himself. Baker I felt took a while to warm up and get into the swing of things, but by the time they played Toad and he embarked on a long drum solo, all was well.
Overall it was a great experience which didn’t reek of stale cheese like when I saw the Stones. Cream gave off such a spark last night that I was pinned to the back of my chair. The upcoming DVD will convince you all that this is a reunion that was meant to be. The ticket price was well worth it and it was an experience I will never forget.
Review by David Coulson
A wonderful evening which far exceeded my expectations and was worth every penny of the fortune I paid to the ticket tout. The newspaper reviews I have read don’t quite capture it from where I and fellow 50-something fans were sitting. The London Times is best.
Review by Mark Nelson
Cream – Opening Night Sound Check My wife and I bought tickets to the RAH tour at 2pm before the show on the off chance that we might catch the sound check – and damn if that didn’t work out perfectly. We caught the boys coming up on stage one at a time (first Ginger, then Eric, and later Jack), greeting each other, picking up their instruments. For the record, the opening night sound check tunes after Eric warmed up for a few minutes were I’m So Glad followed by Pressed Rat and Warthog. Not sure if anything came after that or not – our tour ended after PR&W. We also sampled the sound at the top level – and it sounded like mud. So, if you’re going to get tickets to any show there, stay out of the t op two levels of the venue. Our tickets for the show were in the Stalls near the stage, and of course the sound was excellent.
Also in attendance opening night were Ronnie Wood, Brian May, and Ginger’s daughter.