30 January 2012
73 minutes, 2006
The story of "Blind Faith" is fascinating, but for all the wrong reasons. The band became the first "supergroup" in Rock and Roll when it formed in 1969, and it all fell apart in less than a year despite a lone album that topped the charts and a highly successful tour. Vocalist/keyboardist "Steve Winwood" stepped out of Traffic, guitarist "Eric Clapton" and drummer "Ginger Baker" had already conquered the world as two-thirds of Cream, and bass guitarist "Rick Grech" was a veteran of Family (more well-known in England than the United States) when they joined forces. "Blind Faith"'s very name arguably proved that their members did not know what to expect from the union. The band made its debut at a free concert in front of more than 100,000 fans at Hyde Park in London on June 7, 1969. This pivotal event in Rock history is preserved in its entirety on the excellent 2006 DVD "London Hyde Park 1969".
"Steve Winwood", "Eric Clapton", "Ginger Baker", and "Rick Grech" are crowded together on a small stage with little room to move. At times they seem hesitant, while at other times their confidence and heroic technical skills shatter any reservations. All six songs that ended up on "Blind Faith" are performed. "Buddy Holly"'s "Well All Right" and "Sea of Joy" kick off the proceedings. A cover of "Sam Myers"' "Sleeping in the Ground" followed by "The Rolling Stones"' "Under My Thumb" shows one of the band's biggest problems, a lack of original, fully realized songs. "Can't Find My Way Home" is fascinating because Clapton plays it on electric guitar instead of acoustic guitar, which he did on "Blind Faith". "Do What You Like" and "Presence of the Lord" show off Winwood's organ mastery. Next is Traffic's "Means to an End" and then the finale, "Had to Cry Today".
To be fair though, the band was not happy about doing this concert because they felt there was not enough material ready for a live performance but due to pressure from the studio (go figure) their hand was forced to get out there and promote themselves.
Clapton was unhappy about this concert; he's the pinnacle of disdainful cool here, taking a back seat, no vocals, standing towards the rear of the band, concentrating on his guitar and turning out clean, simple, and technically brilliant solos that show a remarkable amount of restraint after the stratospheric excesses of Cream. Not much is going on with "Rick Grech" but at least he seems somewhat interested being on stage (probably the biggest audience he ever performed for) by providing decent back-up vocals and keeping a good bass rhythm riff throughout which is complemented by Baker's incredible drumming.
"Steve Winwood"'s vocals are always out of range especially during moments when he tries for higher notes and the rest of the time he seems to be straining which stands out more so considering he is the lead vocalist.
Speaking of "Ginger Baker". If you want to see one of the greats in concert then by all means get this DVD just to watch his drum work. The man is in top form and he seems to be the only one actually getting into the concert.
This has got to be a must-see for all those who still entertain a fascination with the endlessly reverberating cultural, musical, and social upheavals of the late '60s – mostly because it's one more way of entertaining unshakeable morbid obsessions and watching everyone’s favourite almost-utopia die the death it never should have.
If you've seen "Monterey Pop" or Woodstock, you've seen this kind of thing before. And yet, there's something else about this footage that fascinates: it's the sense that all this is coming to an end, you are actually watching the '60s die. When the show begins, it's under a perfectly blue sky, an endless English summer day, but by the time it ends the light.