CREAM should have convinced everybody within listening distance that they are, without any doubt, the finest in the rock idiom. For the very first time in Sacramento's rock concert history, the audience was courteous as well as appreciative.
Ginger Baker's "Toad" solo was inspired as he was encouraged by the very aware audience. Every complicated passage in his improvisations met with an ovation. Of the three times I have seen CREAM in concert, this was the best solo by Baker.
The songs played were of varying origins. Some were unreleased as yet, and others came from either "Fresh Cream" or "Disraeli Gears." "Tales of Brave Ulysseus," "N.S.U.," "Sunshine Of Your Love," "Sittin' On Top Of The World," and the medley of "Steppin' Out" (solo by Clapton), "Train Comin'" (harmonica solo by Bruce), and "Toad."
The policemen deserve a round of applause for their deplorable treatment of the musicians. Baker's sarcastic comment, "We love your police," was an indication of the obviously disrespectful attitude that usually pervades the cops' conduct. As the musicians were filing out of the back door of the auditorium, I heard the comments of the security police, for instance: "Hi, Sweetie" and "Take a bath." And they complain about the kids being badly behaved. I suggest that our lovable men in blue learn a few manners!!
The GRATEFUL DEAD were surprisingly good. The two drummers came up with a counter play that developed into an Afro-Cuban rhythm. The songs they played remained unnamed, but all six members of the group performed admirably. This is the first concert in Sacramento that even faintly resembled a Fillmore happening.
Both of the rock groups received standing ovations. The concert was a huge success. Aside from the ignorance and rudeness of the police, everyone who was there could feel the goodwill towards everyone. It was the first beautiful happening in our city.
(by Mick Martin, from the Pony Express, Sacramento, 15 March 1968)
No tape, alas!
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(Here is another Cream review by the same author, seven months later.)
OF CREAM AND CONCERTS
The last two weeks were brim-full of superlative concerts by some of the best well-known and unknown rock groups. Anyone with a fast car could have caught them all and, as an afterthought, should have. Many once-in-a-lifetime rock milestones were happening; I will try to acquaint you with them.
Best of the lot was the really enjoyable CREAM concert at the Oakland Coliseum. [October 4] After listening to four other CREAM concerts, I was ready to be hyper-critical of what they played. I couldn't be. As the rest of the capacity crowd, I was aware that three musicians were spontaneously creating on stage and listened appropriately.
The songs played included tracks from their three album releases: "White Room"; "Politician"; "Deserted Cities Of The Heart"; "Crossroads"; "Spoonful"; "Toad"; "Sunshine Of Your Love"; and "I'm So Glad."
The introduction and conclusion to "Toad," which involved all three artists, was terribly sloppy. The solo was not the best I have heard by Ginger Baker, but it was adequate. "White Room" and "Politician" were earmarked by fine solo passages.
"Spoonful," more than ever before, was the best tune. It was inspiring to hear the interaction between Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Baker. They go into some very pleasing variations. Musically it was exciting to try to follow them simultaneously through the individual and collective improvisions.
[The opening bands:] The COLLECTORS were fair. At times I felt they were almost into it, but their attitude was all too unsure and they didn't make me want to listen. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY, on the other hand, was captivating and polished both at this concert and at the Fillmore West the week before. The violinist is a true craftsman; his emotions are easily felt through his music. The rest of the group makes statements that are just as effective. I can see considerable success here.
SUPER SESSION featured an added treat. [Fillmore West, 9/28/68] Mike Bloomfield was hospitalized; so, on Saturday night, Carlos Santanna and Steve Miller jammed with Al Kooper and his sidemen. Miller was poor; he wouldn't get into it. Santanna, on the other hand, was creative and positively engrossing. The interaction between Kooper and Santanna was very pleasing. It's going to be a nice LP. (They were recording live.)
In Sacramento, The GRATEFUL DEAD, TURTLES, YOUNGBLOODS, INITIAL SHOCK, SANPAKU, and FAMILY TREE played to a surprisingly small crowd of 2,000. [Memorial Auditorium, 10/5/68] The TURTLES were funny and entertaining. They were a release from the intensely musically innovative atmosphere. Mark Volmann is a comedian, in the truest sense of the word.
The DEAD, INITIAL SHOCK, and SANPAKU were the musical highpoints of the evening. SANPAKU's hornmen are so beautiful, their solos are always different, and yet they build to a completely emotional climax. Their original material is well arranged and worth repeated listens.
INITIAL SHOCK and the DEAD were better than ever and twice as groovy. Both groups always provide me with the feeling that I have heard something worthwhile, and on this night I felt they did exceptional jobs. YOUNGBLOODS were nice, and FAMILY TREE shows promise. It was an enjoyable evening, but I can't wait for Sacramento to get it together and support promoters like Whitey Davis, who really cares about music.
(by Mick Martin, from the Pony Express, 10 October 1968)