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 beautifully....you 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
"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 sustain...an 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
one....it 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 one...it 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.