I never imagined that my parents and I would ever attend the same concert. But on Tuesday evening Sasha and I joined my mom and dad at a relatively full Burton Cummings Theatre to see Canadian folk legend Bruce Cockburn perform. I grew up listening to Bruce since he’s one of my dad’s favourite musicians.
Jenny Scheinman, a folky singer-songwriter from New York, opened the show. She played violin and bouzouki, and had a great voice and easy stage presence, even amidst some early technical difficulties. Jenny was also part of Bruce’s backing band, which was rounded out by drummer and percussionist Gary Craig, whose inventive style really complemented Bruce’s music. I enjoyed his playing quite a bit. While Jenny and Gary interacted a lot, it would have been nice to see Bruce and Jenny interact more, as they mostly kept to themselves on opposite sides of the stage. Still, her violin solos really added to the show and gave Bruce’s folk songs some texture.
The show was about two hours long and included a good variety of songs, ranging from well-known hits like “Wondering Where the Lions Are” and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” to some new songs off of Bruce’s recently released album, Small Source of Comfort. “Last Night of the World,” “Call Me Rose,” and “Five Fifty One” were stand-outs for me.
Bruce is just as well known for his guitar playing as he is for his lyrics, and he really played well. His numerous guitars, hand made by small Canadian guitar builders, looked and sounded beautiful. The band also did a couple instrumental numbers which I really appreciated. Bruce brought out a dulcimer for one song near the end (much to Sasha’s delight), which he hooked up to an effects pedal. It sounded really cool.
The strength of Bruce’s songwriting was obvious, and he’s been very consistent at writing great songs over his decades-long career. I also really respect and appreciate Bruce’s spiritually, socially, and environmentally aware lyrics, which are both poetic and incisive.
It was really great to hear some live music again. I don’t think I have been to a concert since Arcade Fire in September. There’s nothing that calms a stressed out student’s soul like two hours of folk music. Anyway, if you want to read more about the show, the Free Press review is here, and the Sun review is here (the latter includes a complete set list). And Sasha also blogged about the show here.