The Music Of Cream
50th Anniversary Tour Featuring Kofi Baker, Malcolm Bruce & Will Johns
October 17, 2018
Cream with members Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker was the first true supergroup. The British rock power trio was formed in 1966 and featured Baker on drums, Clapton on guitar and vocals and Clapton and Bruce on bass and lead vocals.
In its career, Cream sold more than 15 million records worldwide. The band’s musical pedigree was based in the blues. Its signature canon included “Crossroads,” “Spoonful,” “Badge,” “I Feel Free,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room” and “Toad.” Rolling Stone magazine ranked the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers the 67th greatest artist on their "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list.
In 2017, it was announced that a tour would be mounted celebrating the music of the groundbreaking band. Though neither of the surviving members of the band (Clapton and Baker) are involved in this undertaking (Bruce passed away in 2014), the musicians involved have quite the pedigree. The three musicians who perform the classic songs made famous by Cream are all very accomplished and have the specific DNA to pull of this grand endeavor. The band is comprised of Clapton’s nephew Will Johns, Bruce’s son Malcolm and Baker’s son Kofi.
The three musicians have much more than just good bloodlines. Kofi Baker first performed live with his father at age six on the BBC TV show, The Old Grey Whistle Test. During his career he has toured with Uli Jon Roth, Vinny Appice, Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, his father and others. Malcolm Bruce also has performed and recorded with his father. He has also played on recordings by Eric Clapton, Dr. John and Joe Bonamassa, and many others. In addition to being Eric Clapton’s nephew, Will Johns Will Johns is also George Harrison’s nephew (both times via marriages to Pattie Boyd). He’s the son of producer Andy Johns and nephew to Glyn Johns. The three musicians have also recorded and released their own albums.
After the performance received the highest compliments and rave reviews in Australia and New Zealand the trio decided to bring the tour stateside. On a cool evening in mid-October, the three musicians arrived at Huntington, NY’s The Paramount and along with a multi-generational audience comprised of blues fans, classic rock fans, Clapton worshipers, drummers and bassists delivered a stunning set of music that celebrated the legacy that was and still is Cream.
The evening was a multi-media event. While the band played under psychedelic ‘60s inspired lighting, video of the original members was shown on a big screen behind the musicians. The band delivered exactly as promised during the two-set performance. The Music of Cream was carefully, faithfully and vividly re-created. Johns told a story about how as a youngster he asked Uncle Eric how to play the riff in “Crossroads.” The evening also featured many additional stories and tales of growing up in a rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere. It was definitely an experience to which only the musicians on the stage could truly relate. Some of the stories were music-related while others, tough funny were quite a bit darker.
The highlights, as expected, were the equivalent of the songs found on the various Best of Cream CDs—performed live. If audience members came expecting to hear anything other than Cream’s classic tunes, he or she was mistaken. In addition to the classic tunes mentioned above, the trio treated the fans to stellar versions of “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” “Pressed Rat and Wart Hog,” “N.S.U.,” “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “Strange Brew,” “Politician” and “I’m So Glad.”
The younger generation did the originals proud. If Clapton and Baker were to hear the performance, Clapton would give it a thumbs-up seal of approval and Baker would begrudgingly give his son props. Bruce, if he was looking down from the heavens, would have been smiling.
Photo Credit: Christine Connallon