Sunday, 10 March 2013

Cream live at the Spalding Bar-B-Que, 29th May 1967

On a warm sunny day at the end of May 1967, in the much fabled summer of love, two weeks before the Monterey Pop Festival and two days before Sgt Pepper was released, there was ... the Spalding Bar-B-Que 67.

Spalding is a market town (pop. 28,722) in Lincolnshire, England. It has an annual Flower Parade and not much else. However on Bank Holiday Monday, May 29th 1967, Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, The Move and Zoot Money and the Big Roll Band all turned up to play a gig in the local hall. The Tulip Bulb Auction Hall. Yes you read that right. Tulip Bulbs. And it was apparently just a large shed.

The festival was put on by local promoter Brian Thompson who in late 1966 had wanted to book The Move and Geno Washington but was also persuaded to take on the still unknown Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd and Cream. In the 6 months between booking and gig however, the latter had all become rather famous, so the shed was sold out and possibly a tad overfull - the crowd do sound quite lively on the recording below and, even if it is 1967, they are probably more revved up on the local ale rather than anything hallucinogenic.

I don't know if any of the other bands were recorded or what the source of this is. Nothing else seems to have surfaced.  However, what we have here is a rather excellent recording of Cream's 40 minute set. The sound quality is surprisingly clear. Jack Bruce's vocals are buried but I suspect that was the way it was on the night. The band are raw, loud and economical. There isn't any of the lengthy improvisation of the American shows of late 1967 or 1968 but the band sound less weary and more exuberant. Ginger Baker's Toad drum solo is mercifully short too. We're Going Wrong and Stepping Out are outstanding. I'm So Glad features Eric ripping into the 1812 Overture as per the BBC sessions. It's a bit of a blinder. All in all a wonderful historic document. Thanks to whoever you are...

Actually it's hard to believe now that Eric Clapton was ever this noisy. Or that this ever happened. But then it was 1967. A year of legend, myths and half remembered daydreams... and when three of the most famous bands of the rock era played a shed opposite the village pub for £1.

Cream - Monday, May 29th 1967, Tulip Bulb Auction Hall, Spalding, Lincolnshire, England
Full setlist:
1. NSU
2. Sunshine of Your Love
3. We're Going Wrong
4. Stepping Out
5. Rollin' and Tumblin'
6. Toad
7. I'm So Glad

Here are some highlights from youtube.

More about the festival here
and on this clip Benjamin Zephaniah tells the story of how it all came to be.

More on stranger than known
Celestial Voices - The Pink Floyd live at the Paradiso, Amsterdam 1969

Parallax - The Pink Floyd BBC Sessions

Peter Green - "A Mind To Give Up Living" - The Blues of despair...

Previously unheard Jimmy Page era Yardbirds live...

Ten Years After - Swing In 1969


  1. It *was* a huge shed - walls and roof of corrugated iron. You could have cut the air with a knife as it was thick with dust from the bulbs and also dope smoke.
    It was an organisational disaster - the organiszers had cleared off apparently, but the bands still played. The Floyd played to an empty hall because the doors were locked. Eventually we all got in, after raiding a coca cola lorry and nicking the coke.
    Can't remember too much about Cream, but I do remember Clapton ramming the head of his guitar into the top cab of his Marshall stack.
    Happy and hazy days!

  2. By the way, that setlist is wrong. Track 5 is 'Train Time'.

    1. Thanks for sharing your memories Keith. It is appreciated. Hazy days they may have been - It now seems like a truly historic event.

      Strange - my version of the recording definitely has Rolling and Tumblin' as track 5 and no Train Time at all. :(

  3. Great film clip & interview with Geno, and hilarious reminiscences from the local band booked "to guarantee an audience" Lol - too funny! it's one of those mythical gigs with a line up to end all line ups you can't really believe happened.....but it did - in sleepy Spalding!