Jack Bruce the cream of Hippiefest

jack-bruce-of-creamEric Burdon headlined, the crowd loved time-tripping with the Turtles, but only Jack Bruce delivered the transcendent at the 2008 edition of the “Hippiefest” concert tour in its L.A. stand.

Bruce, the former singer and bassist for Cream, has gone on to a prolific solo career, but he catered to the spirit of the peace-and-love package tour, playing only the songs he made famous with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker.

The Cream reunion shows of a few years ago made it pretty clear that Clapton, at least, considered Cream to be Bruce’s band. Playing here under the stars at the Greek Theatre, Bruce replaced his famous bandmates with musicians from the Turtles’ ace band. The results remained magical.

Bruce opened solo, issuing the drones of “Deserted Cities of the Heart” on an acoustic guitar. Then it was on to the bass and “I’m So Glad,” “Sitting on Top of the World,” “Politician,” “White Room” and, of course, “Sunshine of Your Love.” Guitarist Godfrey Townsend had the crowd roaring as he raced through Clapton’s guitar parts, accurate but not slavish.

Too short a set, but with the brevity came power. (In New Jersey, Bruce played almost an hour and a half. Sigh.)

Eric Burdon and his “Animals” worked through a couple of his psychedelicized numbers — “Sky Pilot,” “San Francisco Nights” and “Paint It Black” — while also working the hits: “When I Was Young,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and, of course, “The House of the Rising Sun.”

Original Animal Hilton Valentine was along for the ride on guitar, obviously having big fun. A young lady played bass and took on the cheerleading chores. Burdon wore a T-shirt that declared “War on War!” which was his former band, briefly.

eric-burdon-of-animals-150x150Burdon continues to be a solid shouter, although the quality of performance seems to have slipped a bit in recent years — or perhaps the act loses a bit going from club to auditorium. Still, the 67-year-old sent the crowd home humming and buzzing.

The opener was Jonathan Edwards of “Sunshine” fame, followed by original Bandfinger member Joey Molland, who ran through the ill-fated band’s hits with spirit and precision (“Baby Blue,” “Come and Get It,” “Day After Day,” “No Matter What.”)

The Turtles took the stage early due to some issue with Melanie. The set was too short, with a few great numbers left off. The crowd loved the summery sounds of “You Baby,” “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “Elenore,” “She’d Rather Be With Me” and, of course, “Happy Together.”

Why the Turtles at a hippie fest? The two singers, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, embraced the weird after their pop run, campaigning with Frank Zappa’s band as the The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie. They served as hosts as well, reminding the crowd of the joys of drugs and advising youngsters in the crowd that they were not particularly welcome. (They were kidding, somewhat.)

Flo chatted about his hip replacement, only months before. The hospital drugs were first-rate, he reported.

Melanie made it onto the stage to perform her hits such as “Those Were the Days” and “Brand New Key,” accompanied by her guitarist son. Back in the day, the set would be well described as a diva downer, with the artist talking as much as she sang. Time has not been kind.

The crowd — miles from L.A. hip — seemed to have a great time reviving the ’60s, with some folks dressing up Halloween-like as their former hairy selves. Night of the living hippies.

Here’s hoping Hippiefest: A Concert for Peace and Love tries for a fourth edition of its summer package tour, providing a brightly colored bookend to Ringo’s always entertaining All-Starr Band shows. Those were the days, indeed.

(Photo from this Hippiefest PhotoBucket page.)


  1. Skip Morgan says:

    I saw Hippiefest at the Greek Theatre in L.A. in 2008. l loved it. l felt young again. They all channeled the supergroups amazingly. I’ll never forget it.

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