Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Cream at the Royal Albert Hall 5/5/05

Spring has sprung, and with it came the much anticipated reunion of the original super group Cream. I've downloaded several of the shows from Usenet, but am just now getting the opportunity to listen to one. First on the iPod is May 5, 2005. I must admit I went into this with much skepticism. I wasn't sure what to expect. What I heard was a very well rehearsed and tight unit. With the opening number "I'm So Glad"; I was afraid my worst thoughts would come true. Kinda uninspired to these ears, but it might very well have been the recording which was a bit sketchy and boomy. Even a few seconds were dropped at the false start, apparently to readjust recording levels. However, as they rip in to the next song "Spoonful", it's obvious these guys came to play and play HARD. It has Clapton throwing in some very tasty individual notes that would make B.B. King proud. The next surprise came with the first notes of "Sleepy Time Time" a personal favorite. Some classic rapid fire explosions from EC guitar make this a true joy to listen to. "Politician" also has some excellent guitar work by Clapton. I've not been too impressed with Clapton the last decade of so. I sometimes think he's too modest and only plays to his potential on special moments, with Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert and Clapton's Crossroads Benefit from '99 being some of the few exceptions. But with the reunion show, it's clear he has stepped up to the plate to deliver the goods. A slow smoldering version of "Stormy Monday" also finds him in fine form. The show ends with several classic Cream tunes "Born Under A Bad Sign", "Crossroads", "White Room", and "Sunshine Of You Love" all played with spirited perfection. Clapton even used his wah-wah pedal for the latter. Throughout the show the only effect I could tell being used was perheps an overdrive pedal, leaving Clapton signiture "clean" tone to dominate. I'm afraid I can't really comment on Jack Bruce's bass playing as the recording was boomy and didn't leave much definition for the low end. His voice, though, is in better than expected shape as he tackled the majority of the nights vocals. Ginger Baker is still up to his old tricks bringing the nights set to a close with "Toad". Maybe not quite as quick as he used to be, but still laying down a steady beat with wonderful moments throughout. I wish they were planning a tour of the States (seems unlikely). But I know tickets and demand would be through the roof, killing any momentum they built over the multi day Albert Hall run. So, more that 35 years after they originally called it quits, they return to the scene of the crime to erase any doubts that they are still the cream! Nice job boys.

Recording nfo:
Royal Albert Hall London, England Thursday May 5, 2005
Lineage: Audience Recording>Solid-State Recorder(16bit, 44.1kHz WAV)>HD>Adobe Audition>WAV>FLAC Frontend>FLAC (Level-5)

Caveat: The first part of "I'm So Glad", was heavily under-recorded, (no sound check). Levels have been increased to marry with remainder of the recording. A poor signal-to-noise is evident during this period. A segment of ~4seconds is missing during the false stop whilst the levels were established. Left-hand channel was boosted to balance the binaural stereo image.

Venue Location: Circle, right-hand side.
Set-List: Disk-1: 57:26 01. I'm So Glad (Skip James) 05:40 02. Spoonful (Willie Dixon) 09:45 03. Outside Woman Blues (Reynolds) 04:32 04. Pressed Rat and Wart Hog (Ginger Baker/Mike Taylor) 03:24 05. Sleepy Time Time (Godfrey/Bruce) 06:34 06. NSU (Bruce) 05:46 07. Badge (Harrison/Clapton) 04:25 08. Politician (Bruce/Brown) 05:06 09. Sweet Wine (Godfrey/Bruce) 06:21 10. Rollin' & Tumblin' (Muddy Waters) 05:54
Disk-2 67:29 01. Stormy Monday (Walker) 08:11 02. Deserted Cities of the Heart (Bruce/Brown) 03:53 03. Born Under a Bad Sign (Booker T. Jones/William Bell) 06:31 04. We're Going Wrong (Jack Bruce) 08:19 05. Crossroads (Robert Johnson) 05:19 06. Sitting on Top of the World (Chester Burnett) 06:05 07. White Room (Bruce/Brown) 06:24 08. Toad (Ginger Baker) 13:43 Encore: 09.Sunshine of Your Love (Bruce/Brown/Clapton) 09:04
Duration: 2h:4m:56s


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