Review: Eric Clapton’s Tribute to Ginger Baker
Nick reviews Eric Clapton’s star-studded concert in memory of Ginger Baker.
It was an incredible night at the Hammersmith Apollo as Eric Clapton led a roll-call of rock stars in tribute to legendary drummer Ginger Baker.
A host of musical icons lined up to salute the red-headed maestro. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood and Chic’s Nile Rogers were among the many guests playing with huge smiles on their faces.
The concert raised vital funds for Leonard Cheshire, a charity close to the Baker family. Amongst the crowd was Ginger Baker’s granddaughter Zara, who works in Leonard Cheshire’s fundraising team.
In a video clip of Ginger Baker played at the beginning of a special night, he was reflecting on playing Cream songs for the first time in a while. Baker said: ‘I really didn’t think it would ever happen, but I’m glad that it did.’
That was the mood amongst fans, cheering the classic opening bars as Clapton and friends launched into The Sunshine of Your Love, Strange Brew and White Room.
Clapton, who turns 75 in March, played sometimes with his eyes half-closed, adding effortless solos – his performance in the rarely played track Badge being one highlight. Steve Winwood, a co-founder of the band Blind Faith with Baker and Clapton, joined for several songs on vocals, keys or guitar.
How would you honour such a renowned drummer? It’s hard to put pressure on one percussionist. So they began with multiple drummers and multiple instrumentalists – four drum kits on the stage, with two or three drummers at once accompanying gleeful guitarists and keyboard players.
Later on Baker’s son Kofi was the star percussionist, playing solo on some celebrated Cream tracks. He first took over the spoken role in Baker’s musical nonsense poem Pressed Rat and Warthog. He played on Do What You Like (‘Ginger in one line,’ said Clapton) which led directly into Toad, with its brilliant drum solo.
With footage of Ginger on the screen above, Kofi showed that talent can run in the family – with the long and jaw-dropping solo fittingly being the best moment of a great night.
Watching clips of Ginger Baker and watching his son and his friends play live, two things are clear: improvisation is vital, and music can make people smile.
- 01. Sunshine of Your Love - with Roger Waters
- 02. Strange Brew - with Roger Waters
- 03. White Room - with Ronnie Wood, Kenney Jones and Roger Waters
- 04. I Feel Free - with Nile Rodgers and Willie Weeks / Paul Carrack (vocal)
- 05. Tales Of Brave Ulysses - with Nile Rodgers and Willie Weeks
- 06. Sweet Wine - with Will Johns / Paul Carrack (vocal)
- 07. Blue Condition
- 08. Badge - with Ronnie Wood and Henry Spinetti
- 09. Pressed Rat and Warthog - with Kofi Baker
- 10. Had To Cry Today - with Steve Winwood, Kofi Baker and Nile Rodgers
- 11. Presence Of The Lord - with Steve Winwood, Kofi Baker and Nile Rodgers
- 12. Well Alright - with Steve Winwood, Kofi Baker and Nile Rodgers
- 13. Can't Find My Way Home - with Steve Winwood, Kofi Baker and Nile Rodgers
- 14. Do What You Like / Toad - with Steve Winwood, Kofi Baker and Nile Rodgers
- 15. Crossroads (encore) - All
Merchandise is still available on Ginger Baker Tribute show site with all event profits going to Leonard Cheshire.