50th Anniversary Cream Experience

Print Friendly

Review by John Snelson & Jane Hearn

Cream – Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton released the supergroup’s classic first album “Fresh Cream” in 1966. Although the band only held together for two  years Cream had a huge impact on the British music scene of the late 60s and 70s.

Last night at The State Theatre here in Sydney,  relatives of the original Cream supergroup entertained a rather sober but enthusiastic crowd with the music of Cream. It was good to see so many families and different generations at this concert.

Kofi Baker (son of Ginger Baker) on drums , Malcolm Bruce (son of Jack Bruce) on bass  and Will Johns (nephew of Eric Clapton) on guitar generated a fine, modern representation of their famous elders.

This is indeed a 50 year celebration experience.  50 years and the Cream is still Fresh.  Today’s trio does not represent itself as a “tribute band”.  They do not act a part, they do not wear wigs or dress up in the 60’s clothing, no kaftans and no beads, nor do they attempt to reproduce the exact sound nor replicate the precise musical progression and notes of the original tracks and recordings.

Notably, whereas I recognised the Ginger Baker rhythms and the hard sound of the striding Jack Bruce bass, I did not feel the measured, “chug-chugg, chug-chugg” of Slowhand‘s Gibson SG or Stratocasters – but then, Kofi, Malcolm and Will are not trying to mimic the sound of Cream 100% – they are three excellent musicians in their own right, playing great music including many songs written for and by their closest family members … their own mothers, fathers, uncles and their friends and lovers.  Tops

This was a fine show in the main, well supported by the great US guitarist Robben Ford.  The inclusion of Glen Hughes as a living example of an old rocker from the Sixties was colourful.

Starting with “I Feel Free”,  the trio gave us their great versions of the big hits, including “Sunshine of Your Love”, “Badge” (sung by Robben Ford), “White Room”, “Sitting on Top of The World”, “Strange Brew”, “Born Under a Bad Sign” and “Spoonful”. A highlight of the show was an utterly fantastic drum solo from Kofi Baker, channelling his father’s phenomenal talent in “Toad” with Baker’s hallmark sound that fuses jazz with african beats into a seamless and perfectly structured piece.

This tour allows each of these three musicians to introduce themselves to new audiences as well as bring some nostalgia to the stage.  They are together acknowledging their relatives great contribution without cheapening or attempting to usurp their mantle or copy the sound of Cream.

N.B Jack Bruce passed away in October 2014.  Ginger Baker has retired from performance for the moment and Eric Clapton lives in Surrey.
Friday, May 26: Concert Hall, Perth – Concert Hall
Monday, May 29: QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane – QPAC
Wednesday May 31 – NZ Wellington – Opera House
Thursday June 1 – NZ Christchurch – Isaac Theatre Royal
Friday June 2: NZ Auckland – ASB Theatre