Reviews of the Cream Reunion

Madison Square Garden Review:

The Manualist

Words are cheap, and 2-bit Critics are a dime-a-dozen. You'll find the best MSG reviews on the official Board written by the many knowledgable, passionate Cream fans. They know things. They understand. Pay special attention to those who went multiple nights for comparisons of the 3 gigs. Clapton himself stated in the '70's, "Some nights we were the worst band in the world and other nights we sounded like Hendrix." It was probably predictable that Monday's show at MSG would be the most emotional night for Cream and the crowd, and also the night to get the rust out, again. Then one would think they'd find their groove on Tuesday and maybe some fatigue by Wednesday. Could all be true.

I, The Manualist, went Tuesday, and that's what I'm qualified to report on. Here's my take:
Cold, drizzly day, some off-shore leftovers from Hurricane Wilma, there was a buzz in the crowd and couldn't help but notice MANY original Cream fans brought their children to the show, thus passing the torch to the next generation. God knows the next generation NEEDS REAL MUSIC. It's becoming scarce. Had to chuckle at the "waiters" walking around with $7.50 plastic cups of flat, cheap champagne. I just stared at the crowd and the Garden while 37 years of Cream on records & tapes flashed before my ears, anticipating history first-hand, to a Reunion I NEVER thought would take place.

Lights out. Well deserved standing ovation. I'm not long-winded and won't disect every song, but it was obvious from the 3 opening songs "I'm So Glad", "Spoonful" and "Outside Woman Blues" that ALL THREE WERE "ON".

I've been a faithful Claptonite for 4 decades now, and I know when he's "ON". I also know when he's OFF. Tuesday he was "ON" and on fire from the get-go. Not a hint of struggling for the notes that knock on heaven's door. His guitar knocked on that door often Tuesday. From my angle I noted some postures that looked scaringly like Derek at times--and Jimi other times. As expected, "Stormy Monday" later in the set was sensational, EC's show-stopper, from the world's premiere bluesman.

Jack's bass playing/improvising Tuesday night was the best I've ever heard LIVE in my life. His voice is still strong and his harp playing on "Rollin' & Tumblin" downright inspirational. There may not be another bass player on the planet that can carry a 3-piece band like Jack does, which explains why there really aren't any others worth mentioning. It was an honor to see this master at work for a little over 2 hours, just unforgettable.

Ginger for me is the beginning and end of all drummers. 66 and arthritic? HE'S THE MASTER. My wife and I were mesmorized during his masterful 10-minute drum solo on "Toad". Again, from our SIDE of the stage, we had a GREAT view of Ginger all night long. His fills on "Sweet Wine" and "We're Going Wrong" were especially crisp and eloquent. But it was "Toad" that brought the only tear to my eye this night.

The sound at MSG was fantastic, IMHO. Being there with all three instruments going through one's being far outweighs the "sterilized" sound on the RAH DVD and CD. Addicted to LIVE sound & BOOTS I suppose, the raw power of the band not limited by a studio. They were afterall, the "first live band worth putting on record." The PACE at which Cream went through their 20-song set Tuesday night was incredible. I got exhausted watching them. Gone were the days of tuning and frolicking between songs. These guys meant business and were far more efficient than any current band in their 20's.

In the end Cream re-defined nostalgia. Unlikely reunion? Yes. Will they perform again? Who knows. Cream is like a VOLCANO that's been dormant for 37 years and we all got to witness them ERUPT once again. Still the best. Still THE CREAM.
The Manualist

Photo courtesy of Cream member "MDRS".

The Legendary Rick Miller's Review Right Here

New York Newsday Review, October 27, 2005 from the Cream2005 Board

Royal Albert Hall Reviews:

Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce reformed Cream after 37 years to play London's Royal Albert Hall. Critics give their verdicts. "Inevitably, at moments Cream sounded like a band out of time. But they proved there is no substitute for great musicianship. The chemistry, remarkably, was still there."
Adrian Thrills, Daily Mail

"Clapton, at 60, was not only the youngest and fittest of the three, but also the most comfortable in this elevated environment. "You can't turn back the clock, and in truth they didn't try. But it was still a tremendous thrill to see the three of them together again after all these years."
David Sinclair, The Times

"Whether their reformation is enough to firm up Cream's shaky place in the pantheon of rock legends is a moot point. "But as the crowd rises to cheer another Clapton solo, and coloured lights bounce off balding pates in the stalls, you suspect contemporary reappraisal is the last thing their fans are interested in."
Alexis Petridis, The Guardian

"Inevitably, they were a diminished version of their former selves. There was less of the brutal physicality that used to be their hallmark. "But they were never less than good, often brilliant, occasionally inspired. And they got better as the night went on. White Room was massive, glorious."
David Cheal, The Daily Telegraph

"This bus pass-qualifying edition of the heaviest group of the '60s was, if anything, better than its younger version, the three musicians playing with a subtlety that in their early days was lost in a barrage of sound. "We shouldn't be surprised: all three have developed immeasurably.
Andy Gill, The Independent

"The performances were still there. The ability to play doesn't go away. "They were the band who pioneered the concept of improvising around simple blues tunes and extending that up to 15 minutes. They didn't do 15 minutes last night, they kept all songs below 10 minutes. Attention spans have changed."
Hugh Fielder, BBC Radio 4's Today Programme

May 07, 2005
Cream Reunion Concert: 4th and Final (?) Show at the Royal Albert Hall
by Paul Olsen

Friday, May 6, 2005. The last of the four Cream reunion concerts featuring Eric 
Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker is just a few hours away. Iíve been calling 
the Royal Albert Hall ticket office all day for returns...the lineís been 
solidly busy. Guess Iím not the only one. Saiichi Sugiyama calls me at 3 pm and 
asks how Iíve been getting on and I tell him. He says he doesnít think he can 
make the show because of everything he has to do to prepare for his own Hard 
Rock Cafť gig with Pete Brown (co-writer of some of the famous Cream songs) 
that's scheduled for after the final Cream concert. Saiichi asks if I would I 
like to go in his place.

The things your friends ask you to do...really. I told him Iíd have to think 
about it, and what cheek to ask me to do this for him, etc., etc. He actually 

So, my friends, the long and the short of it is I went to the final Cream 
Concert and sat in the second row right in front of Jack Bruce and the show can 
be summed up in one word.


Here is the set list...and let me preface it by saying Cream played every number 
flawlessy. It truly was a perfect set Jack was incredible and really rose to the 
occasion, smiling all night and giving it stick. Eric was totally in form and 
played every number couldnít ask anything more of him. Ginger 
was right on the button, driving the whole thing along in his inimitable 
fashion. They were Cream at its best. Every number got a standing ovation. 

"Iím So Glad" - perfect...everything you ever wanted. 

"Spoonful" - perfect again...Jack was really happy and having fun with it. 

"Outside Woman Blues" - Ericís voice was outstanding, and his playing, well, 
exquisite. Jack was smiling and loving every minute of it. 

"Pressed Rat and Warthog" - not as much smiling and joking around as previous 
gigs...very straight. 

"Sleepy Time Time" - Jackís singing was right on the button. Ericís solo was a 
masterpiece and the audience quite rightly went wild...what a cracker. 

"N.S.U." - Eric shines on this one with lots of excellent solo, 
unlike anything else in the set. 

"Badge" - perfection...and then, Jack segues into... 

"Politician" - really tasty and the audience loved it.....I did too! 
"Politician" was terrific, and Eric did a great solo. 

"Sweet Wine" - great Ginger Baker counterpoint rhythms. Eric was superb while 
Jack and Ginger were really driving and thumping along...the old Cream! Eric was 
really into the groove and it looked like he could have gone on and on, but 
Ginger brought the band back to the finish too early, I thought. Eric was really 
sailing on this one and looked like he was quite happy to wail for awhile. 

"Rolliní and Tumbliní" - Jack at his best - really great - and Eric sounded 
slick as hell on bottleneck...very tasty. 

"Stormy Monday" - there are no words...Eric was away with the birds on this never gets better than this....what a guitarist he is. Frightening. 

"Deserted Cities of the Heart" - Ginger rocked out on this one! 

"Born Under a Bad Sign" - Jack was really happy on this was all his and 
he made the most of it....absolutely the best he has ever been. Nice one, Jack. 

"Weíre Going Wrong" - great feel, very subdued and a lovely contrast, perfectly 
played and sung. Jack was flawless. 

"Toad" - Ginger was perfect again, with a few fireworks. Jack and Eric sat just 
offstage. Eric was with his wife and daughter who was on his lap and everyone 
was smiling while Ginger showed everyone in the world who was who and what was 
what! Tuesday night was a better solo to my ears, but this was again, flawless. 

"Sunshine of Your Love" - excellent, played superbly, but again, Tuesday was a 
better performance - they really opened it up and were more like the old Cream. 
Still, Iím not complaining!

The final show. I added the question the mark to the title because there's hope, 
I suppose, that there could be more to come. I understand the DVD of the concert 
series will be available this fall, but nothing, nothing could ever be quite the 
same as seeing and hearing these three perform together live. We can only wait, 
see and hope.

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