Ian Waller goes in search of a little musical education for his 13 year old daughter
One of the important roles of a parent or carer is to make sure that our children know a good tune when they hear it. We all know that the music we were brought up with is the best there ever was, and certainly better than the stuff our children listen to. So when the chance comes, it’s incumbent on us to let them know it.
As it happens, most of the old rockers of my childhood are now retired or playing unplugged harps just south of the Pearly Gates, but just occasionally the chance comes to pass on some of their genius to my three children, and tonight was one of those opportunities. OK, the real Cream, that most original of rock supergroups, is no longer with us, with two of the line-up, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce, having died, and the guitarist otherwise known as god, Eric Clapton, risen to the status of national treasure. Still, ‘The Music of Cream’ at Komedia Bath, a 50th anniversary tribute to their awesome supergroup’s music, played by the sons and nephews of those original titans of rock, was the chance to introduce some element of the genius of the original threesome to a new generation.
My guest for the gig was my 13 year old daughter, whose only real knowledge of the band was that her dad goes on about them and they played the music for a car advert. So it was really pretty impressive that she even agreed to come along in the first place – after all, this was, in her view, music for old people, which judging by the age of the audience, wasn’t really that far off the mark.
The original Cream only really played together for around 18 months, pushed apart by internal conflicts and the inevitable 1960s excesses of drink and drugs. Still, their awesome musical talent and massive influence on generations of bands since is impossible to ignore, along with a still impressive catalogue of songs.
The Music of Cream saw the sons of Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce team up with Eric Clapton’s nephew to perform the band’s music, along with the new generation’s stories of their dads and uncle, for a suitably grey-haired audience at the best music venue in Bath, Komedia. So a tribute act then, with the advantage of DNA? Well, ultimately, yes, but it was more than that. The songs were bound to be awesome, but the musicianship too was stunning, particularly Malcolm Bruce on bass whose mesmeric playing would have graced the stage in any line-up and with any material.
Were they as good as their dads and uncle. No, they weren’t, that would have been impossible. Instead they were three hugely talented musicians who played and sang the songs superbly but without that ultimate edge and supreme talent that set their elders at the peak of their profession.
Still, it was a perfect chance to showcase a great body of work to my daughter while I could sing quietly along, break out a battered old air guitar and even attempt a little boogie. Among the best known of Cream, Crossroads, Strange Brew, White Room, Politician and Badge were all there, plus a good few more, as well as that extended drum opus to the genius of Mr Baker that is Toad. Was my daughter impressed? Well, mainly, yes, after all, it was difficult not to be. Yes, the mobile phone was broken out on a few occasions, possibly to post about this awesome gig that her dad had taken her to, but possibly not. And by the time the band was heading for its encore, I had been asked a few times, “Is it on for much longer?”
But then, as the lights eventually came up and the next generation of Cream made its way off stage, my daughter did say she’d enjoyed it and was already talking about our next gig together – a band of her choice that time.
As a regular visitor to Komedia, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some really great gigs, with many more to come. Was this one of them? OK, yes, it was enjoyable and it’s always awesome to be out with my daughter. No, it wasn’t Cream, but it was still great fun and we even bumped into a few old friends as well. Next time it’s my daughter’s role to pass on the work of her musical stars to her old dad. I’m looking forward to it.