Sitting On Top of The World With The Music of Cream

As the opportunity came to write a review about “The Music of Cream” live at theO2 Kentish Town as part of their 50th anniversary world tour, I was actually dancing around in my little room for joy and excitement. The thrilling feeling of going to be blessed with intense, eclectic music studded with huge improvisations. Then reality hit as I considered that I had the responsibility to write about the music of Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. A trio who have influenced more than one generation of musicians and fans. The interpreters tonight and throughout the tour are Malcolm on bass, son of Jack Bruce, on drums Ginger Bakers son Kofi and on guitar Will Johns, nephew of Eric Clapton and son of producer and sound engineer Andy Johns who worked together with Led Zeppelin, Free, The Rolling Stones as well as Jimi Hendrix. Even by writing this all down now I get goosebumps down my spine.

The music I got to hear live for the first time which is 50 plus years old and sounded new and fresh. The people who were there disproved the old cliché from a club of middle-aged men with rarely a woman in sight. The family affair-like atmosphere was shared by Malcolm, Will and Kofi in words, photos and sounds with the fans who were there. Playing together was the motto of the night on stage and within the audience.

The opening salvo of the night was a wave of Kofi’s drums to clear the decks for them to hit the ground running with “NSU”. Our Cream-friendly crowd for one night only had left the common territory of work, stress and rush-hour in a common direction of celebrating music, extensive and exquisite long guitar tunes, your belly moving drum solos, joy and grooving all over the place. Next up was “Outside Woman Blues” with a groove which makes you lose your mind with Will exquisitely successful in losing you in the wonderful combination of licks and riffs. In the background on the big screen we saw black and white photos of Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton when they were playing live together as well as promotion photographs which made it even more hauntingly intense as if a good spirit went around us all to kick it truly off the ground – and it did! The next song to come was “Politician”. Even 50 years ago people were thinking about “do what you say” when hearing the word “politician”. Good that such a rhythm demanding masterpiece of a laid-back groove comes out of such thoughts, moving right into your head. After laying some Love on the table with “Badge” came “Sleepy Time Time” which made you stop in your tracks in awe and appreciation. I truly loved the guitar sound and the energy which comes from witnessing the playing together of the three on stage, definitely a highlight for me. The blues is pouring out of every note and you get to understand what power music can have. It picks you up from where you are and take’s you off to a different place. When I was lifted by Malcolm and Kofi’s rhythm and taken off on the back-seat of Will’s guitar tunes I could imagine the people working the fields in the Mississippi Delta. From “Deserted Cities Of The Heart” which drowned you in the beat it then sensationally merged in to “Strange Brew” and the crowd really were digging it by now. “Pressed Rat and Warthog” came along like an homage to the beat poets presented by some troubadours from the middle ages with electric guitar, bass and drums. It bonds your whole attention onto what was happening on stage. The last song of the first set was “SWLABR”, sung by Malcolm’s daughter and special guest Maya Sage, which provided a nice touch.

In the break between the two sets we got to hear and see on the big screen the history of Cream through the albums added with very personal photographs. As I said in the beginning, this was the cherry on top of the cream cake which bonded all the audience and the people on stage together.

Will, Malcolm and Kofi grew up in this musical environment which was their playground for exploring their own musical styles and techniques and that is the reason I guess why their interpretation is so touching and fresh.

Malcolm, Will and Kofi started their second set with “I’m So Glad” followed by “Crossroads”, which I really loved as a devoted Blues-fan! The distance between blues and hard rock was getting very narrow. It melted together into its own style. I knew “Born Under A Bad Sign” as interpreted by many other blues bands. The heaviness they put to it gave the lyrics their depth of feeling. “White Room” with special guest Pete Brown was my favourite tonight. White Room grabs your whole attention like a spell has come over you. The interaction between drums, guitar and bass with Pete Brown’s voice went down like honey. “Sitting On Top Of The World” is one of my most beloved blues songs and I always enjoy it when hearing it live. It was followed by “Sweet Wine” for the enjoyment of all who were there. Kofi’s unique take on the drum solo “Toad” included a more jazzy approach with some African rhythms thrown into the soup of continuously changing rhythms that I never got bored of. When they wound up the second set on this memorable night in North London with the classic “Sunshine Of Your Love “ there was not a single soul in the whole building who wasn’t singing along… in between Will’s great guitar riffs. For the encore, they played “Spoonful” and the atmosphere went up a gear for the final crescendo with Malcolm, Will and Kofi really giving it everything, as they had all night and made the evening a fantastic musical experience and I can only repeat what I said in the beginning. To me the music of Cream played by Malcolm, Kofi and Will sounded new and fresh and I am sure it will stay on and be carried to the future.

 

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