Jack Bruce

By Jeremy Miles

TIME was when mere mention of legendary bass player Jack Bruce playing a Bournemouth gig would have had every rock aficionado within a 100-mile radius descending on the town.

After all, is this not the man who defined what precisely was super about supergroups by co-writing, playing and singing a large percentage of the astonishing output of the very first band of that genre, Cream?

Things change and, extraordinarily, Bruce's appearance with his new band at Bournemouth's Pavilion Theatre tomorrow night has engendered precious little excitement.

Entertainments chief Rob Zuradzki told me late last week that only around 500 tickets - a third the capacity of the theatre - had been sold. "I don't understand it. I was convinced we'd do at least 1,000," he said.

However, those that aren't present may well miss out on a classic gig. At the age of 58 Bruce comes with a glowing pedigree - Royal Scottish Academy of Music/ Alexis Korner/Graham Bond /John Mayall's Blues Breakers/Cream etc.

He has also just recorded his best and most accessible album in years, Shadows In the Air, which features re-recordings of Sun-shine of My Love and White Room complete with old mate and musical mucker Eric Clapton on guitar.

Indeed, Bruce himself is decidedly chipper about the way things look. The once notoriously dour Glaswegian told me happily that putting the album together was "a load of fun". Nonetheless, it did involve recording it in a matter of a few weeks and then waiting for months for Clapton to find a window in his diary when he could add his signature guitar solos.

Not that Bruce minds. Old rivalries - once a staple of the music press - are clearly long forgiven and forgotten. He's even got happy and relatively recent recollections of legendarily difficult Cream drummer Ginger Baker.

Last time he saw Baker was when he was playing with Gary Moore in one of Ringo Starr's All Star Bands.

"We played Boston - Massachusetts not Lincolnshire - and I knew that Ginger was living nearby so I talked to Ringo and invited him over to sit in on drums.

"He was having a great time and working as a volunteer for the local fire service because he loved driving those big red American fire trucks."

Bruce also, of course, has memories of Bournemouth from the days when he played with the Sixties pop group Manfred Mann, who had a weekly residency here.

"It was my attempt at going commercial," he says. "I had bills to pay, curtains to buy, that sort of thing."

© Jeremy Miles 2022