Submitted by Doug who also supplied the photos:
Yet another great Kansas City gig for Bruce and his "partners in crime" (as he introduced them), keyboardist/accordionist/bg vocalist extraordinaire, Ms. Julie Wolf, and percussionist also-extraordinaire, Mr. Gary Craig.
to admit, I had my doubts as to how quality this gig would be... the
Grand Emporium has been a fun place to see other concerts in the past (namely,
Mason, and individual members of the avant-garde progressive jazz rock band
Gong: Daevid Allen & Magick Brothers, and Tim Blake)... but there is
no escaping the fact that the Grand Emporium is a BAR as well as a music
venue. Having seen
Bruce prior to this in more genteel concert settings (the Madrid Theatre in
October 2005, and Liberty Hall in Lawrence, KS in November 2003), I definitely
at the thought of seeing a musician of his renown and stature performing in
a place where not only was all manner of alcohol being served, but also
in mind how ROWDY the place was known to get. Thankfully, all turned out well
and my fears were put to rest: the Emporium crowd was enthusiastic, receptive
and respectful to our Canadian brother and troubador, and the ambient noise
during the songs was mercifully kept to a minimum.
As has been mentioned in other reviews thus far, Bruce's characteristic chattiness with his audiences between numbers was minimal; it strikes me as somewhat sad that he seems to be getting very self-conscious about it as time passes... maybe brought on by incidents such as the one mentioned in another review where some audience members are taking the liberty of calling out to him too far. Be that as it may, he mentioned something to the effect of being too "talky" between songs; to which all of us resounded with a hearty "NO-O-O-O-O-O-O!!" As in, hey Bruce, don't EVER STOP talking to us -- it's part of your overall appeal, OK? That put a big grin on his face. Other moments of mirth were at the beginning of Open, where he remarked, "I'd hoped you guys would have cooled the city down a little bit for the concert." When you take into consideration that KC had been BAKING in the 90's and 100's for the better part of the summer -- and that particular day it was in the mid-80's with tolerable humidity -- it's no surprise that one audience member responded with "This IS cool!" The biggest laugh of the night, though, came right after his as-usual stunning performance of The End Of All Rivers. He mentioned the song was from his instrumental CD Speechless, and went on to tell us (here's where I start paraphrasing) about how either he or someone had mentioned to a very young girl the title of the CD -- she was asked, "Isn't that a cool title for a CD of all-instrumental music -- Speechless?" And without missing a beat, the young girl (in what had to have been a world-weary tone of voice), responded, "Oh, Hilary DUFF has a CD called Speechless..." That response, and the way Bruce emulated her, brought down the house.
As for the concert itself, others before me have stated it well. Bruce was in top form all-around (which I thought showed in glowing terms when he performed Beautiful Creatures, in PERFECT voice... every high note, right on the mark. So much for the "music critics" dissing him for choosing to sing in a high register!) Julie and Craig were the perfect complement for his music, and Julie earned some ovations with some blistering keyboard solos during Dust And Diesel, and the ferociously-rendered Slow Down Fast. I was also knocked out by their contributions during The End Of All Rivers: Julie did some wonderful keyboard fills, and Craig's percussion supplements added fire and drama to an already very intense piece of music. When it came time for encores, I was glad Bruce included his bizarre-lounge-lizard-retro-jazz piece Nude Descending A Staircase -- the live performance of this bold bit of experimentalism came off without a hitch (minus the AM radio sounds that frame the studio version), and I salute Bruce for exploring new means of musical expression such as this. When Night Train kicked in as the final number of the evening, a lot of us in the audience were firmly in our boogie mode -- my friend Joseph stood and danced unabashedly for the entire song and the place was definitely rocking. Bruce left us the way he always does --grinning from ear to ear, feeling healed/nurtured/fulfilled by the depth and spirit of his music, and most definitely wanting more, more, MORE.
And what a great nightcap it was to be able to chat at length with Julie and Craig after the gig as we were waiting outside by the bus to catch some autographs from them and Bruce. Two very warm, affable and appreciative musicians who carry themselves the way Bruce does with his fans. As I got Bruce's autograph, I ***respectfully***planted a bug (a bone?) in his ear about maybe, just maybe, him doing 2 songs from his first album on his next tour -- his masterpieces Man Of A Thousand Faces and Spring Song. He laughed broadly when I mentioned wanting to make a "request" such as this, but listened appreciatively as I told him how much those songs meant to me. I wasn't about to put him on the spot about it, though -- how could you do something mean like that to Bruce anyway? -- and as we said goodnight, he left me with a "Well, you never know..." response. And that was perfectly good enough for me. With a body of work as huge as Bruce's, and if you're a true fan of the man, you'll walk away from one of his concerts afterwards feeling like you got more than your money's worth -- and THEN some -- regardless of the night's song selection.
So thanks, Bruce... for a great concert, for a great new CD, for the autographs, for the pictures, and for being the truly friendly guy that you are when it comes to meeting your fans. As always... come back to Kansas City next tour. You'll always have a family here. Peace...