Posted by: gdevi | March 15, 2011

DVD Review: Cream- Royal Albert Hall 2-3-5-6 2005

I was leaving New Orleans in a few hours after my cinema studies conference, and I thought I would just walk down Decatur St towards the French Quarter and see if I can get a couple of gifts for Krish and Dayani. We all like music so when I saw the music store called Louisiana Music Factory I knew I would find something there.  Despite its industrial name, Louisiana Music Factory is an old fashioned music store–there are no cappuccino machines and scones, yet–only two floors of vinyls, cds, dvds, and books. It has a wonderful collection of all genres of music you can possibly think of–from blues to spoken word to Christmas music–but their real emphasis is on genres indigenous to Louisiana and surrounding regions, such as Zydeco, Cajun music, Swamp blues and Swamp pop, New Orleans Jazz and Swing, Delta Blues etc. I got a small harmonica and a dvd of Les Paul playing with all kinds of musicians for Dayani and then I found this dvd of the 2005 Cream Reunion for Krish. Krish is a big fan of Cream. Like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and the Beatles, Cream was very popular in India.

Reunion Concerts are strange things; on the one hand, we as audience are not really looking for any new material from the band. We want to hear things we have heard before.  But somewhere in there we are also trying to tap into that synergy that makes a band, the aura, the power, a brilliant coming together of specific styles and talents. The Cream Reunion concert says “yes’ to all these things. The concert was for four nights apparently and the DVD is edited and mixed to make a seamless soundtrack across performances from these four days. It is a 2 DVD set and the second one features brief interviews with Bruce, Baker and Clapton as extra materials. The songs cover both the “greatest hits” as well as less popular songs like N. S. U and Deserted Cities of the Heart. Albert Hall is packed and you can tell the British audience apart from the American audience; the Americans were on their feet dancing and moving around. The British audience needed time to get up and be on their feet. You could also tell that some folks thought that this was an Eric Clapton concert. Which was strange because Jack Bruce was the lead vocalist really in this concert. He does an outstanding performance in songs like Rollin’ and Tumblin’, Spoonful, Born Under a Bad Sign, Sitting on Top of the World, Sunshine of Your Love and still plays some of the most electrifying bass in the history of rock performances. In fact, I could not take my eyes off of Jack Bruce while he played; he plays the bass guitar like a violin–no frets and he plays incredibly complex notes and chord structures that make you sit upright in your seat for the entire two hours. Bruce still has an incredible voice; I could listen to him sing and play for hours. Ginger Baker plays drums–a beautiful big green thing, it looked like–like it is an extension of himself. I don’t know why modern rock bands don’t have drums like the old bands did. How old is he, Dayani asked us. He is in his 70s, we said. Wow, Dayani said. This was for Ginger Baker playing the long extended drum solo for Toad. None of my friends can play drums like this, Dayani said. I want them to see this.

They opened the concert with just a lovely lovely version of I am So Glad, with both Clapton and Bruce singing and playing. Everything about the beauty of their togetherness and their love for their band and their audience comes out in this song. Clapton’s songs include the Outside Woman Blues, White Room guitar solo and alternating vocals with Bruce, Crossroads, Sleepy Time Time, alternating vocals with Bruce on Sunshine of Your Love. Clapton has such a big palm; you could see his fingers wrapping around the fretboard. It was wonderful. We had just watched the Jimmy Page concert It Might Get Loud and it was interesting to see another great guitarist, and you can tell how much Clapton plays like the old Blues musicians, whereas Jimmy Page plays like he lives on another planet. Very very interesting.  Clapton and Bruce left the stage for Baker to show his virtuoso drum solo for Toad, and they came back later to do an encore of Sunshine of Your Love. I have always loved this song, and Bruce takes the lead vocal with Clapton singing the second verse plus a brief but beautiful guitar solo of Blue Moon. Just lovely lovely.

Here is the complete track listing:

DVD 1: I am So Glad, Spoonful, Outside Woman Blues, Pressed Rat and Warthog, Sleepy Time Time, NSU, Badge, Politican, Sweet Wine, Rollin’ and Tumblin’, Stormy Monday, Deserted Cities of the Heart, Born Under a Bad Sign, We’re Going Wrong

DVD 2: Crossroads, Sitting on Top of the World, White Room, Toad, Sunshine of Your Love (encore)

Overall, this is a beautiful addition to any Cream collection.

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Responses

  1. That was a fantastic concert. I’ve watched an edited version of it several times on Palladia. Every time I run across it, I can’t stop watching it. For three cantankerous people who’s hatred for each other is legendary, they really seem to be taking joy in creating music. Yes, they had a blow up after the show and haven’t spoken since that night, but for a few hours they really connected on stage. Ginger Baker’s drumming was phenomenal, but Jack Bruce’s bass playing was equallly amazing. And Clapton is always otherworldy to watch.

  2. Isn’t it too? Wonderful concert. Thanks Darwin- Gayatri.


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