Jack Bruce in the Karlsruhe Tollhaus
Jack Bruce is a legend on three counts: as a composer, singer and bassist. He wrote and sang almost all the hits of Cream, the trio with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker which in its two-year life – over 40 years ago – sold more than 35 million records. Now he's been performing in the Tollhaus in Karlsruhe.
In the post-Cream years, too, Bruce repeatedly demonstrated his outstanding class in these three areas, and not only in rock and jazz but also in classical formats. At one point he wanted to start a "dream" band with Tony Williams, in whose group Lifetime he had the "most musical time of his life", and Jimi Hendrix.
For the Tollhaus concert he had to make do with the "white Hendrix", guitarist Robin Trower. With Trower, who began his career with Procol Harum, and Gary Husband on drums, he recently released the album Seven Moons. No wonder, then, that the supertrio fronted by the two men in their mid-sixties attracted the masses to the Tollhaus. The cultural centre had already sold out the week before; after all, the concert was the first of just four live appearances from the trio.
In 1974 Frank Zappa wrote a song tailor-made for the bass virtuoso in Apostrophe – from the first to last note an accompanied bass solo. Not without justification, for it was Jack Bruce put the rock bass in the spotlight. Cream live was collective improvisation at its best. At the Tollhaus, this didn't come until Sunshine of Your Love, with one of the most often-played riffs in the history of rock. It's astonishing how Bruce and Trower inspire each other to reach every greater heights. Trower, with his exceptional feel, manages to find to new things in the old song, patently to the pleasure of Bruce.
Among the new songs from Seven Moons there are also some real gems, which carry the signature of Jack Bruce. He specialises in sensitive rock ballads, which are made expressive with a voice that is still emotional and strong. But it's the old songs that really hit home: We're Going Wrong is a beautiful ballad from Disraeli Gears, White Room their greatest hit, and Politician the only encore after a rather short concert. But still, the mainly older fans went home happy after a captivating performance. After all, they'd almost seen Cream.
Article sent in by Hans Volkhardt; trans. Peter Christian – thanks!
Robin Trower's page at BtP | Pictures from this gig