Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cream - Royal Albert Hall: London, May 2-3-4-5, 2005 (2005)

In 2005 Cream, the legendary blues power trio, played four shows together for the first time in almost 40 years at London's equally legendary concert hall.

Unfortunately, in this group's case, absence did not make the heart grow fonder. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker managed to make most of the songs from their classic repertoire sound indistinguishable from one another and the length of this double CD set made listening to the whole affair even more tedious than it needed to be.

Surprisingly, Clapton played with no fire. His solos were all by rote and sounded identical. We all know that "God" still has the goods but not during the week he played with Bruce and Baker.

Bruce can no longer hit the high notes and Clapton's still fine voice was forced to save him on numerous occasions.

Baker's drum work often included fills that were identical to how they were recorded on the studio originals. In fact, the concert promoters could have taken his drum work from "Badge," and downloaded it onto an ipod to accompany his bandmates on stage so the senior citizen could have stayed home and rested where he belongs. We wouldn't have known the difference.

Other lowlights include Baker's "Toad." We didn't need that interminable drum solo in 1967 and we certainly don't need it now. A weak rendition of "White Room" and an even worse "I Feel Free" had no life whatsoever.

Viewing the DVD is no better. Watching Bruce and Baker is no treat. The years have not been kind to either one. If you must see and hear these disappointing relics perform borrow a copy from a friend as I did and save yourself some cash.

To make things worse the CD cover features ugly, burnt orange, psychedelic artwork that adds to the belief the whole series of concerts were just a money grabbing act of nostalgia.

If this is what reunions of dinosaur rock bands yield it is best to take a pass when the next one comes along.

If you still insist on owning the discs you can buy them from Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. I would have to disagree here. Having both the Live Cream Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 albums plus this one, I'd say my go to is this one. While the original two albums simply meander through long solos, Royal Albert Hall sounds tight, but loose in the pocket thus giving the band a fresh sound. I especially loved Clapton's solo on "The Badge". It's just my opinion though...