Cream Madison Square Garden October 24th 2005
Playing their only public North American dates for the first time in over 35 years, Cream was a must see for Record Boy. In the 60’s, this band was more responsible than all others combined in turning their audience on to the blues. “Spoonful,” “Crossroads,” “Sitting On Top Of The World,” “Rollin’ & Tumblin’,” “Born Under A Bad Sign” were some of the songs that this power trio delivered to young American ears for the first time.
Eric Clapton was the driving force behind this reunion because he wanted to challenge himself as a guitarist and stretch out again. I’m sure the $$ dangled before Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker made this a win, win, win situation!
They couldn’t pull off “I Feel Free” in rehearsals so it was not performed and I’m assuming the same held true for “Strange Brew” which was more conspicuous in its absence. But their set contained such gems as “I’m So Glad,” “Sleepy Time Time,” “Politician,” “White Room,” “Sunshine of Your Love” and performed live for the first time together on this tour “Badge.”
Ginger Baker is not the flamboyant drummer he once was but he can still play impressively; solid and splashy at the same time. His solo on “Toad” was the first drum solo in years that Record Boy didn’t walk out on! Jack Bruce can’t hit the high notes anymore but he sang with conviction and his bass playing is still rich and bold. He fills in a lot of empty space. If anyone was at all inconsistent, it was Clapton. The trio had decided against using their vintage gear for these shows and one inescapable conclusion is that Clapton’s signature sound of a Gibson guitar played through a Marshall stack in the 60’s cannot be replicated by playing a Strat through vintage Fender amps. This lent a feel of restraint over the evening, even though Clapton did indeed play more guitar solos in this one show than he usually does in a whole solo tour! When the group was firing on all three cylinders however it was a wonder to behold. Clapton, Baker and Bruce are much more refined all these years later and though they once generated excitement because of their unpredictability, they now stir up their audience with their impeccable taste and precision.
Check out the Royal Albert Hall DVD recorded earlier this year to see for yourself what you missed. Or wait to see if they release a Madison Square Garden DVD. Look for the guy with the cape!