Royal Albert Hall

Cream played two final shows at the Royal Albert Hall, on the twenty sixth of
November, 1968. Both shows sold out within two hours of the box office opening.
They shared the bill with two, as yet, unknown bands, Yes, and Rory Gallagher's
band, Taste.
But it was Cream that the audience had come to hear, and when they were
announced, the crowd erupted in an emotional display of affection. The musicians
themselves would later admit that they were surprised at the reception, and regretted
that they had stayed away from home for so long a time.

While the shows were extremely well received, and the adoring audience called the
band back for three encores, Ginger didn't feel that they were very good.

"Those shows, at the Royal Albert Hall were really not very good gigs. Its a shame
that that's how most people remember us, because Cream was so much better than that".

I tend to agree with Ginger on this one. The recordings of Cream in California, taken
from both the second and third tours are, in my opinion at least, far better than the
Albert Hall concerts. Back in November of '68 however, that would have put me in
the minority.

rahall

farewell concert Jon Cott of Rolling Stone reviewed the second show (said to be the better of the two), under the headline "GOD SAVE THE CREAM".

"What was exhilarating about the sell-out farewell concerts was each member of the group's affirmation of his special gifts - Bruce's subtle
whirlwind bass figurations...Baker's plateaued drum sectionings and textural clarifications, and Clapton's Apollonian elegance and control.

Each musical line was almost hyperesthetically precise (this especially holds for Baker's drumming), and each line fitted tightly against the
other - parallel lines.

Many persons missed that raunchiness and fuzziness of effect which Cream often used to express - a strained indulgence, I thought. What
revealed itself at Albert Hall was the poised quality of the performance, the detachment, the structure looked down upon from the stars
-a self-begotten music (Cream is / was three stars) whose brilliance seemed born of itself without labour, for everything seemed
effortless".

Mr. Cott's article was probably perceived to be a "rave review", and I have no doubt that it was meant to be. What strikes me about it,
however, is that he appears to be unduly hung up on the band's technique. He believes that the "raunchiness and fuzziness" Cream had
in the past expressed was nothing more than a "strained indulgence" rather than a sign of exuberant enthusiasm for the music they were
playing. He praises their poised detachment, as if this were a good thing. Strange indeed to praise artists for being detached from their art.
Yet, that may be an odd tribute to the band. So good were Eric, Jack and Ginger that, even on their "bad nights", they were still pretty
damn good.

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DID YOU KNOW ?

1) The Royal Albert Hall concerts were both filmed for broadcast on the BBC. It is also available on video. The fifty minute version of the video is readily available even today.
Unfortunately, the concert performance is marred by brutal editing, annoying narration, and interviews that are almost comical. A ninety minute version of the video is also out there,
but it is much harder to find. The long version is basically the same as the shorter one, but the numbers are allowed to play longer before being interrupted.
Somewhere out there, there is also an un-edited film of the concert. I know this for a fact because back in the early seventies the York Theatre, in Montréal, ran a midnight triple
feature of Pink Floyd, Cream and Jimi Hendrix. The film ran without the interviews or narration, and the numbers were played in their entirety. (Why don't they realease this on
video!)

2)There is also a Japanese CD entitled Cream: Farewell Concert. This is a soundtrack of the video, with most of the narration deleted. See the 'Imports and Boots' page
for more information.

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Ticket

Janet Bruce's ticket. It went unused, as she entered the hall with the band.


Photo Credits; Top right; Graphic of Royal Albert Hall, origin unknown.
Middle left; Eric on stage, Farewell Concert.
Bottom; Pictorial Press.

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