-- 18 November 2005 --

2005 Index


DATE: 18 November 2005
London Convention Centre
London, ON, Canada





Submitted by Trev Carey-Smith, and Dave Puzak who sent the scan and adds:

It was a terrific show at the London convention center. I've never seen Bruce on his own before. I was really anxious and excited to be present in a room with just him and his guitars. I was not let down. There is no one like Bruce in this world. His new songs were incredible to hear. He played This Is Baghdad with a long introductory reflection on his experience in Iraq in 2004. Most of the new songs have a definite political stance (not surprisingly) but what is different in these ones are his growing frustrations – frustration we've never heard before from Bruce. I hope he can overcome his speechlessness and deliver an incredible new album within the next few years. It will be interesting to hear what the product of his catharsis on world events are through the depths of his ruminations. Speechless is incredible. But it makes you wonder what kind of state the world is in today if after 26 albums he is speechless...

Article from The London Free Press © Copyright 2005, Sun Media Corporation.
Published Wednesday, November 16, 2005. Reproduced with permission.
The original article included a sample setlist from the tour, taken from The Cockburn Project.


Never at a loss for words, Bruce Cockburn is far from Speechless -- even if that's the name of his latest, all-instrumental album and the tour supporting it. Speechless is a misleading name for the tour, which brings him to the London Convention Centre Friday night, smiles Cockburn. Speechless: The Instrumental Bruce Cockburn (True North/ Universal), just means there will be more guitar than "there normally would be." In other words, Cockburn will sing a lot, too. The Ottawa-born star's career includes 28 albums, numerous awards, including the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Tenco Award for Lifetime Achievement in Italy and a score of gold and platinum records in Canada. The outspoken activist released his first solo work in 1970. His songs and his life reflect his environmentalism and commitment to other social justice causes.

The awards and honours continue to flow his way. On Dec. 1, he will receive the 2005 Winnipeg Folk Festival artistic achievement award. A few days later, Cockburn will be in Montreal to sing If a Tree Falls at the opening ceremonies of the UN Climate Control Conference. "The whole point of writing songs is to share experiences with people," he says. He wrote If I Had a Rocket Launcher after visiting a Mexican camp for refugees from war-ravaged Guatemala. To his surprise, Rocket Launcher received more radio play than any other song in his career and its video became a regular on MTV. The song also deepened a growing rift with some Christian organizations that had once embraced Cockburn's music. Other Cockburn hits include Waiting for a Miracle, Tokyo, Wondering Where the Lions Are and Lovers in a Dangerous Time. Cockburn knows Speechless will remind anyone who might have forgotten that, as Cockburn puts it, he can still play the guitar. As one record critic puts it, "With 11 previously released acoustic instrumentals from throughout his career -- and four new or rare cuts -- this 68-minute set showcases the 60-year-old folk icon's fingerpicking and fretboard prowess in musical settings from blues and folk to jazz." Speechless shows off Cockburn's influences, such as Belgian Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt on Rouler Sa Bosse and U.S. bluesman Mississippi John Hurt on Sunrise on the Mississippi.

His acoustic guitar wizardry and lovely compositions aside, Cockburn brings something else to Speechless -- an impressive guest list. Not many Canadian folk stars can call on jazz vibes superstar Gary Burton, Stax/Volt organist Booker T. Jones, Toronto percussionist Rick Lazar and Canadian bassist George Koller on the same, career-spanning album. Producers include U.S. alt-rocker T Bone Burnett and Canadian blues and roots star Colin Linden. Most of the guests are on hand for a track or perhaps two. Burton is in stellar form on Mistress of Storms from 1996. "We thought, 'Why not go for the best?' " Cockburn says of his decision to seek out the U.S. star. The folksinger had Burton's 1979 collaboration with pianist Chick Corea, Crystal Silence, in mind. Burton was happy to join in. Even as he talks about his Speechless album, Cockburn says he's been listening to the renewed voices of anti-Bush protest on the U.S. leg of the tour. "I feel that it's just being allowed to surface more," he says of like-minded American performers. But it's not new, he says. Buffalo singer/songwriter and activist Ani DiFranco has never changed what she does, he says. "All of a sudden, that (perspective) is coming to the surface."



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2005 Index

This page is part of The Cockburn Project, a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The Project archives self-commentary by Cockburn on his songs and music, and supplements this core part of the website with news, tour dates, and other current information.