Submitted by Ann & Emmett Pearce.
It was opening
night of the You've
Never Seen Everything tour.
Bernie was busy helping out at the t-shirt/video/CD table in the lobby.
Bruce played just under 2 1/2 hours. Ben Riley on drums/percussion, Steve
Lucas on bass, and new member Julie Wolf on keyboards/background vocals.
The addition of Julie reminded me of the '86 World of Wonders tour where
the whole concert seemed to have an extra dose of energy and power. Bruce
talked about Tried And Tested and
said the song was about his year off from writing music and the highs and
lows of that time. He
mentioned someone close to him became addicted to heroin and that started
off his roller-coaster year. The year to himself really didn't turn out
that way. The end result is the current CD.
The addition of the classic song, Burn, was great to hear. After singing You've Never Seen Everything Bruce jokingly said that after singing that song he always hears a voice that says, "Have a nice day." The charango made an appearance on the son, Bone In My Ear. Great variety of songs with an amazing performance from everyone, especially Julie.
And this from Bruce Soderholm:
The venue for this appearance was the Sanderson Centre, a beautifully restored theatre set like a jewel in the navel of the bedraggled belly dancer which is downtown Brantford, Ontario. The theatre filled slowly, but almost reached capacity by the time the concert started with a higher-than-average ratio of silver ponytails occupying seats. The luminous red backdrop of the stage was slivered with ascending streaks of light amidst the blackened wings surrounding it. The visuals, it turned out, were apt metaphors for the selection of songs chosen to mark the occasion.
With little fanfare, Bruce entered the stage along with his band members. The band was a rhythm section of keyboards, bass, and drums, and their talent became manifestly more evident as the night progressed. Ben Riley was not idle on the drums and delivered a pounding, solid rhythm that never appeared to miss a beat, but instead delivered controlled crashes and tasty cymbal work that were invariably apropos. Ben was most noticeable in not drawing undue attention to himself, but blending instead into the unity of the whole sound. Steve Lucas displayed his considerable talents on bass in much the same way. His virtuosity was evident in the ease with which he drove the bottom line on his six-stringed bass, or bowed like a double bass on an electric stand-up instrument. The rhythm section was rounded out by Julie Wolfe, her quasi-permanent sheepish grin peering out from beneath her kd Lang coiffure, while delivering a wide variety of musical stylings from her multiple keyboards and concertina play, as well as adding layered harmonies to most songs. Julie appeared to start off tentatively in her keyboard solo spots, but struck a comfortable stride halfway through the first set and never looked back.
The night was spent featuring material from the new CD, while also blending many of his best known songs, and a few retrievals from the vast archive of his recordings. These included Mighty Trucks Of Midnight Trucks and a crowd favourite, Burn, inspired in its rise from the ashes, Bruce said, by Dubya Bush and a 'plucky friend' in Vancouver.
The new album material is fresh, though occasionally unnerving, and appears worth the wait. Bruce's guitar work was imaginative as always, though many, I sensed, longed for more extended guitar pyrotechnics. He did, however, have a befitting guitar for every song. Serviced by his own guitar valet, he had a string of beauties chauffeured continuously on stage like showgirls to the governor's mansion, and they were exquisite in both appearance and sound.
While Bruce did not chat a lot during the evening, his choice words and song selection did convey a tone. The political satire, the rage at social justice apathy, the disturbing lyrical snapshots, were all present but did not create a dark brooding presence which can be the experience, at times, at a Cockburn event. He stated (roughly), “You can't deny there is severe darkness in most places you look. But that doesn't mean that there isn't light to be seen.” Like the streaks on the backdrop, Bruce Cockburn shows us that amidst blood and darkness there is light ascending to a higher place. After delivering a solid serving of favourites, he rounded out the final set with the simple but magnetic Messenger Wind in which hope is literally the last word. During the encore, Bruce plucked on the heartstring sensibilities of the audience with his penultimate rendition Celestial Horses, a musically spartan but hauntingly beautiful tune which summed up the tone and mood of the concert with its lyric, “There's darkness in the canyon/ but the light comes pounding through/ for me/ and for you.” The whole evening was a wonderful start to the tour, or as he put it, “That didn't suck too badly now, did it?”
For more about this show and photos, see the reviews From The Road.