Report from London:
Cream Live at the
Royal Albert Hall

During the first week of May, I was offered the chance to take an ultimate rock n’ roll vacation, venturing to the UK, with a stop in Barcelona, at the invitation of my old law school friend Carl Rabeler. Carl and some friends had purchased tickets online to see Cream at their exclusive four-night reunion at the Royal Albert, and had also arranged for tickets and a train ride up to Manchester to see the reunion of Queen, w/Paul Rodgers filling the shoes of lead singer Freddie Mercury. Also in between the Cream and Queen shows, I made it over to the Royal Festival Hall on the banks of the Thames to see shows by Little Richard, and the first show in thirty years by the original lineup of Van Der Graf Generator; (thanks to Glenn Max at the RFH for the kind invitations (and good luck with the Patti Smith Meltdown in June).

The weekend in Barcelona was unforgettable. It’s easy to see why this city is a favorite vacation spot for Europeans, it being situated between the Mountains and the sea, and having the most amazing combination of food, architecture, art, and beautiful people and surroundings imaginable. It is a truly nocturnal city, with crowds of locals and visitors wandering through the Ramblas and the amazing narrow winding streets of the Gothic district, going from café to bar to restaurant, enjoying the tapas and cervezas (and absinthe) through the night. Surprisingly, we saw no live music the four nights we were there, but rest assured, the city is a great stop for touring bands, and has some amazing venues,…that I’m sure I’ll check out when I return in the near future.

We landed in London the night before the first night of the Cream. After meeting some friends from SF, and having coffee at a café in Knight’s Bridge near the condo where we were staying, we walked through Hyde Park to the Royal Albert to check out the scene and see if there were tickets available for this, the first night. We scored a pair of great seats from a scalper for a not unreasonable $500 per, on the side of stage right, looking straight across at Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker with Clapton just beyond. Couldn’t have been more appropriate, seeing as how I was there for Cream, not Eric, and felt the importance of the night was more about the rhythm section than the guitar player.

The show was amazing. I couldn’t imagine a more fitting classic rock performance at this the greatest of all music venues in the known world. The Royal Albert was the fourth member of the group. A show at any other venue, or in any other city clearly would not have been the same, and the fact that there would be but four shows at this one historic site made the show that much more special, especially for the foreigners who had traveled to be there. The set was a bit much of an Eric and the members of Cream play the blues kinda show, with Spoonful, Crossroads, Sitting on Top of The World, etc. etc. mixed in w/Rollin' and Tumblin and an unnecessary cover of Stormy Monday. Every night was the same setlist, opening w/I'm So Glad, and closing w/White Room, Toad (w/a drum solo) and and an encore of Sunshine of Your Love. I sat on the side of the stage the first night near Jack and Ginger, where I felt I belonged. We went again on the third night and sat in the balcony (until the last song, when we made it to the front of the stage; old habits.

Here’s the set list and a link to the review by John Pareles in the NY Times:


I'm So Glad
Outside Woman Blues
Pressed Rat & Warthog
Sleepy Time Time
Sweet Wine
Rollin' & Tumblin'
Stormy Monday
Deserted Cities Of The Heart
Born Under A Bad Sign
Tales Of Brave Ulysses
We're Going Wrong
Sitting On Top Of The World
White Room
(encore) Sunshine Of Your Love