BRITISH ROCK TRIO PLAYS HARD BLUES
Cream, a relatively new British rock music trio which has been, you should excuse the expression, rising to the top very swiftly in America by way of two record albums, made an impressive debut last night in the Memorial Auditorium before a near capacity crowd of around 3,500.
The trio takes its name from the claim that its members are the cream of the crop in England. Guitarist and singer Eric Clapton; Jack Bruce, who plays bass guitar, harmonica, and also sings; and Ginger Baker, the drummer, are all said to be stars in their own individual right at home. After hearing them ride through an hour and five minutes of hard driving and often brilliantly played arrangements, one is willing to believe it.
Their music is, with few exceptions, primarily and very strongly rooted in the blues. Last night's pieces were almost all blues, and included, from their more popular recorded numbers, "Tales of Brave Ulysses," a slow, driving and very verbal piece, and "The Sunshine of Your Love." The very slow and supremely gutty blues which followed the latter, a lament for a gone woman, was even better.
The trio's set closed with three pieces which gave each man a chance to shine. Clapton's moment, a long, insistent solo, came in a duet with Baker. Bruce then teamed up with the tireless drummer for a fast "train blues" on the harmonica, spiced with husky singing that eventually mixed so swiftly with the harmonica one could hardly tell them apart. It was a brilliant, exciting performance. Finally, the two guitarists gave Baker a sendoff and then left him alone onstage for a tremendous 10 minute drum solo that stood the crowd on its feet for a final ovation.
The San Francisco group known as the Grateful Dead opened the program with a 60 minute performance that was uninterrupted from start to finish. The first half of it seemed either to be divided into sections or was actually three or four numbers strung together with some random guitar tuning in between. The second half was a long, long blues that ended in several minutes of roaring, howling, screaming cataclysmic electronic sound, punctuated by several firecrackers set off by one of the two drummers and eventually fading away into a hillbilly-style hymn bidding the audience good night. It was quite a contrast. Some of the earlier parts of the performance worked up some musical momentum, but nothing of what was sung could be understood. Loudness, it would appear, is the overriding quality the Dead are after.
The local group known as the Light Brigade projected from the rear of the stage a light show behind the performers.
The show was an inexcusable 47 minutes late in starting.
Adults who think all young people are rebellious should have seen the incredible patience this crowd displayed during this period of waiting for those outside to buy tickets.
With the Cream's performance, however, it became apparent they knew what they were waiting for.
(by William Glackin, from the Sacramento Bee, 12 March 1968)
Alas, no tape!
Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com