My review of the May 5, 2005 Cream show
Here is my review of the first night I went to which was the third night of four concerts. I'll have the review of the last night later if anyone cares. Internet Explorer has been driving me nuts lately, so I've been slowed down considerably all day on the computer which has taken away from time to write what I want to. Sorry for any typos, but I think I got all of them (and grammar mistakes). Or most of them at least.
Royal Albert Hall
01. I’m So Glad
03. Outside Woman Blues
04. Pressed Rat and Warthog
05. Sleepy Time Time
09. Sweet Wine
10. Rollin’ & Tumblin’
11. Stormy Monday Blues
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)
Somehow, well thanks to the help of some great friends, I make it to London after what was the longest weekend of my life when I missed my flight. There is something about Clapton concerts and me that means a roadblock needs to be set in my way, but luckily it never stops me from getting to a show. I got to London the day of the Thursday concert, so I got to see London a little. But I was fretting over that night. All of my friends were going, and the ticket I once had was sold by a “friend.” As soon as I get out of the cab this guy asks if I need a ticket, and I tell him I do. He proceeds to try and find his friend for the next five or so minutes. He shows me the ticket and it’s 18th row on the floor on Eric’s side. And he wants 600 pounds!! I think I took that much with me. I get his price down to 375 pounds, but end up paying 390 pounds when I give him that much and he just asks, “Are we even?” I say sure because I really want my ticket. So the highest I’ve ever paid for a ticket goes to…Cream!! I wouldn’t have it any other way I suppose.
Okay, I have a problem about telling every single minute, so I’ll spare you all my anticipation of the show for the hour I was in the bar. But then it’s announced five minutes before Cream take the stage, and I get down to the floor and find my seat. Why it wasn’t lighted up by the light of the heavens I don’t know because it surely warranted it. I was really excited at this point and the smile that would seemingly need to be surgically removed from my face was in place. Showtime was just minutes away. I decide to talk to the guy next to me since we would be neighbors for the next two hours, but as soon as I ask him about it being his first Cream show he points up to my right and says, “Don’t you think that is David Crosby?” So I follow his gaze, and lo and behold it’s David Crosby! Either that or his Las Vegas impersonator was there to watch Cream. ;) But he didn’t get more than a minute of my time because Cream were coming out onstage, and I needed to soak up every nanosecond of the next two hours.
“I’m So Glad” is such a fitting opener. I mean whether it’s people living on nostalgia or who are like me and were born 15 years too late to see Cream we were all for sure “so glad.” The applause was great, and I’m So Glad was very good. Immediately I noticed the band was a very cohesive unit and Jack was sounding better than I’ve ever known. I also hear this show was the best of the three nights (the two previous and the third), and I’m not surprised because it sure sounded like it to me even without hearing the previous shows.
Not only is Jack sounding great singing-wise, but also his bass playing is very solid, flowing freely, and just intense like his singing. “Spoonful” was outstanding to me. This was the best version of “Spoonful” I had ever heard up this point. It surpasses the boots and Wheels of Fire for me. I mean when Jack gets to the part, “They’re lying about it,” and just growls out the lyrics with amazing passion I don’t see how I couldn’t prefer that version. It sent chills down my spine, and I noticed I quickly looked around to see if anyone noticed how good that was. It’s definitely going to be one of those moments when I get the official cd and boots that will be rewound over and over so I can listen to that five seconds multiple times. Ginger is bringing the beat like only he can, and Eric was providing some very tasty guitar work, well, like only he can as well. I was only into the second song of the concert yet I knew this was going to be something beyond my expectations Gibson guitar or not.
“Outside Woman Blues” was magnificent. At this moment in my head I’m just thinking write, “Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!” and it will sum up my feelings. But I’m going to spare you my cyber translation of my indescribable excitement and actually try to coherently put it down. Which I kind of just snuck in there anyway, didn’t I? lol This was an aggressive version and it has aged well. As a matter of fact I also prefer it to the versions of the past. Every time Eric would sing “outside women, too,” he would, I guess, squeak his voice. I have no idea how to describe that effectively, but God I love it way too much. :o :wub: I mean it’s just those little moments such as that, or Jack on Spoonful, or that protracted note that just make a show. I could listen to that over and over for the next week, and I doubt I would get tired of it. This song could very well be the highlight for me. Then again, I’m not sure. Richard asked me afterwards when we were with Susan and hanging out at the Hoop and Toy pub. I thought this song immediately, but “Spoonful,” “Crossroads,” “Born Under A Bad Sign,” and “Sunshine of Your Love” are all so excellent. The whole thing was so good it makes it difficult to choose.
“Pressed Rat and Warthog” was better than I expected. I must admit I was never a big fan of the song, but there is always something about hearing a song live that can change your mind. To see the interaction between Jack, Ginger, and Eric, and to know they were having a good time just contributed to my liking of this song. It was nice to hear it and see it performed. Of course afterwards we get the obligatory sales pitch from Ginger about how rat and warthog have set up outside selling Cream memorabilia which had the audience laughing. :D
“Sleepy Time Time” follows next, and I never realized how good it was until I heard it live. I listen to all of the recordings of it differently now. Great harmony vocals and some nice guitar work. Just a solid performance.
“N.S.U.” was a real treat. First of all, I start laughing about the song’s influence. I’m wondering if everyone knows why I’m laughing. This performance makes me think of everything I’ve heard before this because the bass, guitar, and drumming were so strong. Great improvisation no matter how small compared to the past. Just seeing the guys really jam for three or four minutes on a great song is really fantastic and all the more better when you think that these guys can, and are, living up to their legendary status.
“Badge” was sounding so much more like the original, which I love! I mean “Badge” through the years has been great, but it has often been missing that bite and strength you get from the shorter version and maybe from not having the instruments played by people like Jack, Ginger, and Eric with his two companions by his side. Eric was really bringing a crunchier or ragged sounded and the vocals were exemplary. I guess right here I should say how much I love watching him play guitar. The way he just tilts his head or body back and you can see him feel every note he plays. It’s just something that helps prove to me why he’s my favorite, and best, guitarist. Anyway, and then to have “Badge” segue right into “Politician” was too good to be true. That was something I didn’t expect because I hadn’t read about it yet, and it just made the performance that much stronger. The song just laid down a real nice groove for the night, and I was enjoying it immensely.
“Sweet Wine” was one of the songs I wanted to hear when I was making up my fantasy setlist, and I wasn’t sure it would be heard. But there it was. I suppose it could have been better, but it was good nonetheless. It was funny because Jack got a little mixed up on the lyrics and it had Eric laughing which in turn had Ginger laughing. Once again seeing these guys feed off of each other and laughing onstage was really nice.
(to be continued)
“Rollin’ and Tumblin’” was a nice blues rave-up with Jack on harmonica and no bass. The song was really movin’ at a nice pace, Jack was performing greatly with his voice and the harmonica, and Ginger kept it all together. I love the slide guitar work!
“Stormy Monday Blues” was a surprise when I read about it being on the setlist the first night. At first I was a little upset to see it, but after hearing it I couldn’t be upset about that at all. Well, that is unless it took “Tales of Brave Ulysses” place. If that’s the case I shall stay in the dark and not find that bit of information out. ;-) I still can’t understand why Eric thinks he is only an average singer at best. I prefer the singing on “Outside Woman Blues” more, obviously, but this song is another showcase of his strong, passionate singing. And the strongest part of this song is the guitar playing. Eric shows that he knows how to take that single bent note and just make the crowd crazy. :smokin:
“Deserted Cities of the Heart” was sounding great, and “Born Under a Bad Sign” was excellent! This was another song that really highlighted Jack’s singing. He was just pounding the bass, growling the lyrics, and the guys were just really tearing this song up. . Best of all is when Jack sang, “big bad woman’s going carry me to my grave,” he said that he certainly hoped so. That was just a great moment that showcased how comfortable they were performing together for us. Plus, it was funny as hell. LOL
I started really enjoying “We’re Going Wrong” a few months before the reunion. That night the song had a really ominous presence and the tension that the band builds up throughout is phenomenal.
“Crossroads” was faster than we have been hearing from Eric for the many years he has been performing it since Cream. It still wasn’t like that one we all know and love, but the slow gait was gone with something really reminiscent of what I wanted to hear. It’s almost like “Crossroads” of 1968 and 1993’s HOF performance got together and had a baby -- that gives us “Crossroads” of 2005.
“Sitting On Top of the World” really has Jack and Ginger challenging Eric and they are really forceful and pull out another great performance. This goes into “White Room” which I wasn’t even sure I would ever hear live whether Eric or Cream to be honest. It was great to hear Eric singing the higher parts and also having him and Jack switch who sings the verses halfway through. It was very effective. The band was sounding just like the days of old. Eric had a great solo, a great groove from the band, and some awesome rhythm being laid down. The only thing I missed is the way Eric starts his solo since about 1990. He does that one long extended note that just kills me. I mean it’s one that makes the show worth all of the money and usually makes me cry from happiness like a big baby. But regardless the solo was still sweet.
I can’t believe Ginger will be 66 years old later this year and has arthritis! How in the world is this possible? He is the greatest drummer I’ve ever seen live. The groove, the swing, and the otherworldly beats -- they are all brought by Ginger like he could do this in his sleep. I mean first we have Jack and Eric playing along with Ginger on this really high-spirited intro with some great feedback from Eric, and then as they leave the stage Ginger just lights it up. The drum solo lasts near 7 minutes, maybe a minute shorter or a minute longer, and about halfway through it just gets really dirty and funkier. And those African beats! Aah, I’ve never enjoyed a drum solo so much in my life. It’s a shame Ginger is so underrated. Maybe it wouldn’t be the case so much if we just consider Cream, but his whole career after Cream is overlooked. He’s way too good to not be mentioned every time someone mentions John Bonham, Neil Peart, or whoever else. I’ll take Ginger any day. As a matter of fact from now on when people ask me who my fantasy band is instead of mixing all of my favorites together from other bands I think I’ll just be proud and true and say Cream.
So Jack and Eric return to the stage and the band takes their bow together to a standing ovation. After cheering while they are gone it is time to rush toward the stage! I could have been against the stage if I didn’t almost forget my purse and my friend’s jacket (which I was strictly told not to lose). What can you expect? I’m on a high from the concert. Jacket, all my money, my I.D. -- who cares! I end up being the third row standing in front of the stage on Eric’s side. If this geek in front of me doing the cheesiest air guitar and head-banging would have just moved over I could have been two steps closer. Ahem, if you are on this board I was joking. You play fantastic air guitar. It was amazing to be so extremely close. Granted, I did watch Eric most of the time. Surprise. Just to see the reactions on their faces while being so into the playing and being so cohesive. It was impressive. Eric’s solo was longer than it has been with his band, and it was excellent. It was just stretched out and amazing. Ginger was providing those African beats/groove that I love. Jack was laying down the bass to accentuate the groove of Ginger and the humbling guitar work provided by Eric. And I love when Eric faces the amp and lets the guitar feedback. The band just jams going along at a higher speed and lost within the music. I mean I was actually watching Cream onstage, jamming to Sunshine, while we (the audience) sang along on the chorus!!! Then before I knew it the concert had gone on for just a little over two hours. The band waved goodbye, and I had just witnessed quite possibly the best concert yet. It was simply amazing. :bow2:
I may have some minor complaints about the show, but they are just that -- minor. My biggest complaint is that the audience on the floor doesn’t just get up most of the concert. I mean seeing Cream -- a legendary rock band -- makes me want to get up and move and watch and soak in every moment. I thought sitting down the majority of the concert was just a little non-invigorating. But I didn’t let it take from my great time. Cream was too good for that. This was definitely a night I could never forget. People can say whatever they want about Cream, but the band was tight. They were playing some of the best music that has ever been made, and they were playing it just as well and sometimes better than they did 37 years ago. For this 21 year old it was a dream come true.
F*ckin' A, what a fantastic review!!! Thanks for posting that. I had been waiting to hear from you on this!!! I'm soooo glad it all worked out for you, SmilinSkullRing. That just rocks beyond words. I'll definitely be buying any official release they put out!
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! I knew you would be waiting. :D And I'm working on my final night review. Internet Explorer is still driving me mad. I don't know what is wrong with it. I'm about to completely give up and go to Mozilla Firefox, but I'm kinda partial to IE. lol
390 pounds???? wow!!!!! glad you an awesome time though! :)
Yeah, it's kind of funny. When the guy said 600 pounds I was actually thinking in terms of dollars. Kind of like, "OMG, no I can't pay $1200!" :eek: By the time I got him down to 375 pounds, but paid 390, I was just thinking pounds. Hmm, not bad. lol It was worth everything I went through though. :cool:
I hear ya, SSR...when it's for something you REALLY love, no price is too high...
And when I write my other review today (finally!) you'll be happy to read some of the musicians I saw in the audience and maybe even more so the guy I walked right by. :D
I can't BELIEVE you bumped into Kirk. That's just too weird!!! Sounds like it was some star-studded evening, being the final show and all. That's so awesome. I'm still in awe that you pulled off this trip. I think it's GREAT! Btw...I'm listening to the 5/5 show :D....that's my dad's b'day, too, hehehe...
Awesome! That show rocked! This one guy contacted me and told me how much he enjoyed my reviews. Supposedly he has some rare boots plus film footage of all the nights! He said he wants to send me some things. :eek: I hope that works out. :cool:
And the stars were definitely out. Just to name a few (although maybe not all were there the final night) that attend the shows:
That's just off the top of my head.
I have the first night, and I think I have 5/05/05 coming my way. I've heard mp3's, but I would love to get a .wav format boot. If I don't work something out soon though we'll have to work out something. :)
I'll let you know when I get it. :)
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