Volume II - November 4, 2005

"Cream2005 Message Boards"

My message to Rhino...

Dear Sir or Madam,

I was very saddened indeed to see the messageboards have been withdrawn from use on the Cream2005.com site.

They have been an absolute boon to the fans of this remarkable band, and have encouraged discussion and debate about the minutiae of Cream, and of Clapton's, Bruce's, and Baker's recording and performing careers. Many, if not most of the 1500 site members, have been having nearly a 40 year love affair with this great British band (and these three guys); and it is a real shame that you had to take such extreme measures.

I cannot imagine what particular actions or activities by which particular members caused such a drastic resolution, however, I do feel some prior warning might have been more appropriate, even if you had to recourse to such ultimate action. The site will be so much the poorer for it and effectively cutting out hundreds of regular posters from their daily fixes will probably rebound upon your company in terms of sales - since they might well feel inclined to simply boycott the site. I cannot believe that any activity has occurred recently (since the MSG gigs) that is any different to what has been occurring over the previous 6 months. I certainly haven't seen anything - although to be fair, I do not read every single thread or post.

If this is all about the uploading and downloading of bootleg recordings - well, the site seems to have turned a blind eye to that since day one. It is a well known truism that no self-respecting fan will ever buy or sell bootleg recordings - especially if the genuine article is available. However, the Cream fans are all very extreme in their enthusiasm - bordering upon fanaticism - and once they have all the official stuff (as I have by the way, many times over on LP record, VHS Video, CD and DVD) then they naturally want more and will look for it wherever. The natural belief for us on this site is that it is tacitly accepted since the fans are actually paying a huge tribute to the band and its three marvellous components. These fans have all the real official stuff already! If you released all three nights of the Madison Square Garden as official CD or DVD sets they would sell like hot-cakes with the fans. Instead they have to resort to more unofficial sources to get their fix.

Many bands already sell limited edition runs of concerts to fans via websites. Why don't you do this? You know we would lap it up ... all of it!

I attended almost all of the Cream reunion gigs and was in seventh heaven. I was too young to see them first time around, although I have lost count of the number of times I have seen both Eric and Jack over the years with various bands, and in their own right; and I have also managed to catch the more elusive Ginger on a handful of occasions. However, it was simply wonderful to see them together again and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart for the privilege. I went to three of the four London RAH gigs (only missing Tuesday 3rd) and flew over for all of the MSG gigs. Six out of seven aint bad! I won't have anybody telling me I haven't shown a financial commitment to this band over the years. I love these guys. Since the early 70s I have been collecting their material culminating in the recent releases. This year, totalling; a week off work, rail trips to and from London, hotels bills, concert tickets and merchandise in May; followed by a return flight to NYC from Manchester (UK), more travelling on trains from Long Island and New Jersey, more accommodation, more concert tickets and more merchandise in October ... well this must run into nearly two thousand pounds! I would suggest that that shows loyalty and commitment, and I have purchased both of the CD and DVD sets as soon as they came out (although not via this site - since it was easier to just buy them locally). So if somebody happened to upload a night from MSG for free for all and sundries enjoyment - well, is that really causing anybody any real harm? It absolutely does not affect official sales. This is a myth since only die-hard fans who have all the official stuff already will buy this stuff anyhow. Concert bootlegs are quite different from pirating official material which no real fan would subscribe to. If you want to eliminate the recourse to concert bootlegs - like for example the fact that boots of all four RAH and all three MSG gigs have been passing around freely for days, weeks and months - then why not just release limited edition CD or DVD runs of these gigs which fans can buy via the website? It is very easy these days to do this. The technology exists and it is inexpensive to set up. The fans would be extremely happy; the management would be happy; and the band would be happy! Everybody wins.

The closure of these messageboards is a tragedy. I have made so many friends and contacts via those boards over the last 6 months and for that atleast I wish to thank you. There has developed a large community of like-minded individuals from all over the world now who have become friends entirely because of your excellent site. Please give yourselves a large pat in the back for creating the largest collection of cream nuts on the planet, many of whom are now firm friends after all the meet-ups in Manhattan last week. You have grown this community via this site of yours and now ironically you are dispersing it to the four winds! The whole site is excellent especially the recent Cream Player and I have enjoyed many other aspects of this colourful and exciting piece of graphic user interface called www.cream2005.com .

Please reconsider your actions. Why not just delete the offending material or posts? Then issue warnings to the offending parties. This is how other sites behave. Surely you don't want to punish 1500 loyal fans because of the actions of a few? Please, please reconsider. None of us expected this site to go on forever, but the messageboard's closure was so sudden and without warning, that we will all be mourning it for months.

In any event, whatever your deliberations result in, we all appreciate very much the remarkable ride over the last 6 months.

In the immortal words of Douglas Adams "...so long and thanks for all the fish..."

Best Regards
Howard Johnston (posting as 'Ghostmojo')

Volume I - November 3, 2005


A reaction to people saying British (RAH) audiences are boring and unresponsive!
You can imagine what I thought about that!

I would like to offer a slightly different take on the MSG Cream concerts last week.

First, I should say that I agree with much of what has been written by various reviewers of all three nights. Monday was great, Wednesday was greater, but Tuesday was the night that they really blazed as of old. That in no small part is due to the energy that Eric possessed on that second gig, and which possibly left him sapped for the following night. I had a ball at all three gigs sitting in different parts of the Garden each night. The Cream were and are a mighty powerful unit of three equal parts. If anybody particularly shone throughout for me, it was Jack Bruce who rose to the occasion every night (as he always does) and quite clearly did not want to stop after "Sunshine". Ginger was splendid, and it is his job to bind this explosive chemistry together which he does with great flair and bombast, whilst the restless fireworks of lead guitar, harmonica, and lead bass threaten to explode in every direction. I have been one HUGE Cream fan for decades and I also attended three of the four London gigs (only missing Tuesday); so I think I can speak with a little authority regarding any comparisons.

As for Cream themselves, you could see a genuine warmth and real affection between the three of them onstage in London, that seemed to be missing six months later in New York. I'm not sure why this was the case - but at MSG there was a distinct lack of hugging, back-slapping and chit chat between Eric, Jack and Ginger, which had been the hallmark of the RAH gigs. Eric himself who had been so verbal with the RAH crowd, hardly said a thing last week to the midtown audience - it was largely left to Jack.

Many Americans (perhaps not surprisingly) thought that the band were better in New York - I disagree. They were certainly louder at MSG (which is three times the capacity of RAH) but not necessarily better. Each and every gig of the seven had its highlights. There were some numbers which blazed in Manhattan more than in Kensington six months before - I absolutely agree. But the reverse can also be stated. The inclusion of "Tales Of Brave Ulysses" was worth the price of admission alone, and the whole crowd (including me) went crazy for it. However, there was a different vibe about these gigs. It is worth pointing out that the audience in London might well have been largely British - but is was not exclusively so. Nor was the British contingent solely Londoners, with fans travelling from all over the British Isles to be there. There was also a large percentage of Americans there, and indeed people from the world over. In a similar way the majority of fans in New York may well have been Americans - but again from all over the States. There was also a fair representation from elsewhere on our planet of Cream fans - particularly the U.K. - but also Australia, Japan and other parts of Europe.

Some Americans had told me they hated the Garden as a venue. I assumed - since this place is part of rock 'n' roll history - that it was acoustics that they poured cold water upon, but after being there myself on all three nights; perhaps I can offer a different take on why Eric seemed so detached on occasion, and why so many fans (including many Americans) felt the atmosphere in London was better.

If any other American starts lecturing us again about how polite and reserved British audiences are, I will scream. Notwithstanding my points above about the audience make-up; when I was at the Royal Albert Hall I was surrounded by a great and appreciative rock audience. OK, there were some corporate parties there; and some of the London Hooray Henry Set who go to any big event in London; and of course a fair amount of (recent period) Eric Clapton fans - as opposed to Cream fans; but the majority were there to see Eric and Jack and Ginger. We did remain sitting for the bulk of the gig, but that was due to; politeness towards the person behind you; the fact that some parts of the RAH are not exactly easy to stand in (especially the stalls and circles) for any great length of time; a generally agreed judgement as to when you should start standing (towards the end of a gig - at the end of a song - during encores); and crucially the desire to listen with great concentration. People were toe-tapping, thigh-slapping and handclapping in their seats just as appreciatively as they would have been on their feet. The audiences at the Royal Albert Hall back in May were totally INTO what the were witnessing! You could feel genuine LOVE for these three guys back in London in May ... it was very palpable.

Now when I come to analyse the crowds at Madison Square Garden I come to a completely different conclusion. Despite Jack's complimentary remarks about the New York audience, I don't judge them superior or more enthusiastic by any means. My over-riding memories are as follows - and this applies to a sizeable minority (and is not directed at the majority of Cream fans from wherever they might originate): Firstly, enormous amounts of people (on every night) were constantly up-and-down from their seats, going to talk to people, heading to the bars - in and out all the bloody time. It was highly irritating. I also saw many trendy, spoilt little-rich-kid, young Manhattanites (Ivy League types) who were far more interested in waving to friends; ordering drinks (from an endless succession of eager waiters all over the place); messing with mobile phones; and most insultingly to Eric, Jack and Ginger - talking at length and at volume throughout. This was annoying at all times but particularly unforgivable during the quieter passages in "We're Going Wrong" or "Stormy Monday". These idiots only applauded after tracks like "Badge" and "White Room" - it was quite obvious were their interests lay. These were not isolated incidents and many people complained about it afterwards in the bars - including Americans themselves who felt ashamed and embarrassed by their fellow countrymen.

One guy told me that he believes it to be quite well known, that Eric in particular gets pissed off with all these throngs of people coming and going to the exits. It does present a very questionable view about the attitude of this large minority in the New York crowd. And of course the rest of us were pinned to our seats (doing our best to ignore the apathetic and disinterested morons around us) and hanging on every word and note played by our heroes; transfixed by the unique chemistry that is Clapton, Bruce and Baker. If Eric's attention was wandering, well perhaps one reason at least, was the apathy he witnessed from sections of the crowd. If he appeared keen to beat a hasty exit on Wednesday night - perhaps it was because he was looking forward towards playing at Albert's place again ... where people listen ... really listen ... and drink and talk before and after the gig - but not during it!!!

Despite all of this I loved every minute. I am so very glad I made the journey to The Big Apple see what may well be their second final swansong. I suspect they will not play any more gigs (I hope I'm wrong) - but I wish they would go into the studio and make some magic there.

Howard Johnston (Wirral, England)

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