Fifty years ago, psychedelic rock trio Cream captivated audiences with their mesmerizing melodies and imaginative lyrics. Today, their kin, The Music of Cream, pays homage to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers by covering their blazing hits from years past. The tribute band went on a world tour this past fall, performing Cream’s most iconic songs. On October 16, they landed in New Jersey at Englewood’s bergenPAC. The members—Kofi Baker, Malcolm Bruce, and Will Johns—took to the stage and were backlit by multicolored graphics and archived photos of Cream. The trio delivered the same power and soul imbued by the original group, making it a performance of a lifetime.
“We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you guys,” Johns exclaimed to the crowd. “We love playing this music.”
The Music of Cream is a total family affair. Baker is the son of Cream’s drummer, Ginger Baker. Bruce is the son of bassist and lead singer, Jack Bruce. Johns is guitarist/singer Eric Clapton’s nephew and the son of Andy Johns who produced Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones. Will Johns admits that the formation of the troupe in time for the original band’s half-century milestone was nothing shy of a miracle.
“Malcolm and Kofi started playing The Music of Cream soon after Cream’s reunion concert in London in 2005,” Johns states. “Shortly after my father passed away in 2013, I got a call from Malcolm. He asked me if I would like to play a song with them at one of their concerts, and we did a bit of playing here and there. It wasn’t until this past year that our current manager Simon Roberts invited us to go to Australia and New Zealand. We really started to prove ourselves as a unit then.”
“We’re on a musical journey and we love sharing that with the audience,” Bruce notes. “The energy of the audience, we can feel that. There’s something very magical about it.”
Flashback to 1968, Cream released “Wheels of Fire”—the first platinum-selling double album in the history of rock—which contained some of the trio’s most beloved hits, including “White Room” and “Crossroads.” Though Johns admitted that the cover group had “big shoes to fill,” they gave the original rockstars a run for their money during their 42-date tour that ran from September to November. The Music of Cream spans Cream’s illustrious career, playing all of the band’s seductive, epic, and spellbinding jams, from “White Room” to “I’m So Glad” to “Strange Brew.”
While the tour may have been a blast from the past to a number of enthused fans from the baby boomer and Gen X generations, the show also drew a number of younger folks. Johns says that the shows were an exciting opportunity for young guitarists to go with their parents to learn about music history and see where legendary riffs like “Sunshine of Your Love” derived from.
Of the show’s many stellar highlights was Baker’s awe-inspiring, 20-minute drum solo as photos of his father onstage with Cream appeared behind him.
“I’m just trying to keep my dad’s thing going at this point. These last few years I’ve dedicated to keeping this music of Cream going, so thank you,” Baker said to roaring fans.
Dressed in a blazer and fedora, Bruce delivered groovy baselines with as much poise and showmanship as his late father. Meanwhile, Johns wailed on his electric guitar, concentrating on every chord progression, which was very reminiscent of something his uncle Eric Clapton would do.
“I know uncle Eric wished us all good luck,” said Johns. “I would hope he would be proud of what we’re achieving, and I hope he would find that what we’re doing is honorable and good. We’re very lucky to be able to be here today and have the ability to play together in this way.”
The Music of Cream’s shows were recorded live throughout the tour and can be purchased on the band’s website MUSICOFCREAM.COM.
By Lianna Albrizio