Setlist submitted by Sandy, and this description and the photo submitted by Aaron Faulls.
He came on stage to a completely PACKED Borders Books & Busic in Downtown Crossing just after 12:30. "It's early," Bruce said, "although farmers probably wouldn't think it's early, but for people like me, we're just getting started at this hour." He opened with Tried & Tested, and I was reminded of what an incredible guitar player he is. A thumping delay pedal and a percussive thumb kept the rhythm while he danced up and down the fret board with the rest of his fingers. Unbelievable. His voice is as good as it has ever been.
He was rather cheery, and I'd imagine it had a lot to do with the incredible turnout as well as the novelty of the event — this was, by all accounts, Bruce's first in-store performance or appearance.
Bruce then pulled out a small black book that looked much like an address book. He had been previously talking about how the decision to write "a bunch of songs about greed and despair" was not a conscious one, but with so much of it on the news, that's just the way it ended up. He then read a quote from the book which he felt was just too incredible to pass up: it was from Nostradamus, the philosopher and prophetic writer. The quote went like this: "Come the millenium, month 12, In the home of greatest power, the village idiot will come forth to be acclaimed the leader." (This quote is actually, apparently, a hoax.) He said it was just too good a quote to pass up, and that it had to get into a song somehow. So he did, in the next song he played — All Our Dark Tomorrows. Great song.
His candour was typical but no less refreshing; of particular interest to me was him discussing how working with Andy Milne was a real turning point for him creatively. He explained that he hadn't done much collaborating since he put music to other people's lyrics when he was in bands back in the '60s, and that he had been going through a real dry spell in the last couple of years. It blew me away that Bruce Cockburn could ever experience writer's block, but I guess he's only human. He said that the experience of collaborating with "a young jazz pianist from New York named Andy Milne" was a good "kick in the pants" that he needed, and as a result of the co-writing, everything fell into place and he started writing again. I believe after that story he began to play Everywhere Dance. The jazz influence, although always part of Bruce's style, is overwhelmingly heavy on those co-written tracks, even played sparingly on a single acoustic guitar.
Bruce was more than a little tickled by the whole experience, it was obvious. He had a big grin on his face and an almost childish glee about playing under such non-conventional circumstances and then meeting his fans. Very accomodating and very gracious. The whole experience was a real treat, I have to say.
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