-- 25 July 2007 --

2007 Index


DATE: 25 July 2007
Union Chapel
London, UK


Bruce in London
Bruce in London
Bruce in London
London setlist


The setlist was submitted by Don Boring, and by Harry Scott who also sent the photos. Steffen sent in the setlist scan and Helen O'Sullivan submitted the following review:

Bruce Cockburn is a highly respected Canadian singer-songwriter and, at the age of 62, is a contemporary of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen. His depth of songwriting can equal the best of these poets and, like his peers, he is not afraid to attack American politics in his material. He has been touring since the 60s and recording since 1970 resulting in a discography of 29 albums, had tracks covered by the Barenaked Ladies, Jerry Garcia and Ani DiFranco and collaborated with countless other musicians. Anything Anytime Anywhere an anthology of singles from 1979 – 2002, was released five years ago and he was inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 2001.

Tonight thankfully, as there is such a wealth of material, he plays for 2½ hours with an interval. The audience is very reverential - you can hear a pin drop when the playing and clapping stops, and we hang on his every word, spoken and sung. Bruce, for the most part, looks deadly serious and focussed during the songs and then breaks into smiles as soon as each finishes and the applause sounds. He swaps between three acoustic guitars and is an extraordinary guitar player. He plays some of his best known songs – Lovers In A Dangerous Time with the immortal line “Got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight”, which Bono quoted on the U2 track ‘God Part II’, and If A Tree Falls which incorporates spoken word verse and that philosophical question in the sung chorus – “if a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?”. This is one of his most widely recognised songs and he must have played it thousands of times but doesn’t appear tired of it and the lyrics are very impactual. He is renowned for being deeply concerned about the environment and is often referred to as an activist, though he doesn’t believe he fits this label and feels he is simply a commentator on injustice.

He talks about how quickly species are dying out and encourages us to think about the earth beneath the pavement, before singing Beautiful Creatures in a falsetto voice. This track is on last year’s release Life Short, Call Now which features Ron Sexsmith, Hawksley Workman and Ani DiFranco. There is a smattering of audience participation in the chorus of the more upbeat Wondering Where The Lions Are. A lot of his lyrics are spiritually questing and questioning and members of the audience can be heard discussing the meaning of the songs during the interval.

During the second half, Bruce admits that he doesn’t know many songs apart from his own but plays two covers – a Blind Willie Johnson track called Soul Of A Man and the Pete Seeger classic Turn! Turn! Turn!. Blind Willie Johnson was an American street singer of the 20s and 30s, an exponent of slide guitar and predecessor of Daniel Johnston. Bruce recorded the latter song for a Pete Seeger tribute album.

He finishes the main set with Mystery from his most recent CD and receives a standing ovation. He returns for a bluesy Mama Just Wants To Barrelhouse All Night Long and ends with the powerful Stolen Land which is about the brutal acquisition of Native American territories.

It’s quite an honour to experience a Bruce Cockburn gig – his UK appearances aren’t as frequent as some would like, although he is appearing at the Cambridge Folk Festival and the Lewes Guitar Festival in the near future, and then continues his tour through Canada and the US.


FORMAT: DAT from audience

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2007 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.