Report on the 01 July 2002 Hawkins Amphitheatre show in Reno, Neveda

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3 July 2002 -- This is the 7th report on the 'Anything Anytime Anywhere' solo tour by Bruce Cockburn, and the second in the summer series for On My Beat. Randy VanDalsen, a BC fan, wrote the following review on Humans, the largest Internet-based Cockburn discussion forum and has graciously let us reprint it here.

3 July 2002 -- Hi folks!

I'm finally de-lurking to share my impressions of Bruce's first concert in Nevada -- July 1, 2002.

This was the 10th time I've seen Bruce live -- first time outside of California. Our two-hour drive across the Sierra from Sacramento was well worth it.

The venue was the Hawkins Amphitheatre in Reno. It's just a couple years old. Very cozy, seats about 400, located in a park with an equestrian center (wonder if Bruce spent the afternoon on horseback), bike and jogging trails, well out of view of Reno's "nightlife." Steep cliff to the west behind us helped create a very good acoustic experience for an outdoor location, not unlike what Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver does, albeit on a much smaller scale. Richard Thompson played here last month; Joan Baez on August 26; Bela Fleck & the Flecktones on Sept. 24. Hmmm. Might have to return…..

Evening was warm, following a daytime high of 100. Light breezes made it perfect. Just after 8:00, the promoter walked out on stage, plugged the upcoming gigs, and said that Bruce would be out in a couple minutes. A couple minutes later, a grinning Canadian guy sheepishly wandered out to a big ovation from the full house. Very spare set-up. Just a couple guitars, vocal mic on stand, high stool, dark curtains behind him that were illuminated with a few colored spotlights. For those of you who must know: dark slacks, long- sleeve purple pullover shirt (no collar, no buttons).

Bruce was incredible. His voice, guitar work, lyrics, and stage presence are greatly improving with age. However, Reno's cooling air temp provided an ongoing challenge right from the start. As he prepared to launch into his first song, Bruce quickly realized that his guitar had gotten significantly out of tune. So as he carefully re-tuned, he casually talked with the audience as if they were old friends. Someone said "Happy Canada Day!" Bruce responded, "We have Canada Day to celebrate not having gone through a revolution." The audience cracked up. Winning over a lot of Bruce newbies before his first note.

And then he launched into the stunning new instrumental opening to A Dream Like Mine. Mesmerizing. Intense, eyes clenched closed throughout, beautiful song to hear in this setting. Audience was highly appreciative but a bit reserved in their response.

Then, someone called out a request: "Freebird." Bruce chuckled, "Wrong century." Instead, we got Lovers In A Dangerous Time. And one after another virtuoso performance of previous and very recent works from this amazing artist. He smiled and laughed a lot, too. Happier than I've seen him in years. Enjoyed responding to audience comments. Self-deprecating one moment, deeply serious the next.

The first set also included The Trouble With Normal, with its haunting lyrics from so many years ago that ring truer than ever today; his astounding new version of Tibetan Side of Town, with his guitar soaring to great heights; Tokyo, one of Canada's best 25 songs (huh?); ending with the terrific and yet-to-be-recorded Open.

When he returned on stage for the second set, Bruce noticed and mentioned the change in the scenery -- the starfields had arrived....

Set 2 began with a rich, complex guitar solo. Just when I thought that this must be the new instrumental I'd heard about, he stepped up to the mic and blended in the melody and words of Rumours Of Glory. This was followed by his first guitar change. As he methodically tuned the 12-string, he talked about the Kate Wolf Fest where he performed a couple days earlier. Apparently, quite a few members of that audience enjoyed smoking something that Bruce said he hadn't inhaled in many years -- because he said it made him paranoid. That didn't stop KW festival goers from offering him what he said looked like 10 lb. bags of the stuff, asking Bruce if he "had enough to get him through." After our laughter faded out, he explained that this had nothing to do with his next song, My Beat.

Next up, a lead-in to a new song that he said was inspired by the events of 9-11. Someone shouted "Rocket Launcher," which provided an opportunity for him to explain at length why that is the wrong reaction. Just as his comments got a bit too heavy for some, he admitted that he actually had one urge to fire up a rocket launcher in the wake of the tragedy: when he saw "Reverend" Falwell tell another televangelist wacko on a TV show that the reason the attack occurred was God's punishment to America for its tolerance of gays, lesbians and abortion. Bruce's much more enlightened response -- Put It In Your Heart.

After telling us how much he regretted not performing the next song at a big Canada Day extravaganza a couple years ago, while some hotshots from Parliament shared the stage with him, he sang Let The Bad Air Out, featuring a very timid audience sing-along that made him laugh at us. We deserved it, and laughed with him.

Another terrific new song followed: Trickle Down. Andy Milne recorded it on his new CD. Bruce said that Andy's take was much more complex than he could ever hope to attempt, saying that he's stuck if the music is other than 4/4 [beat]. The lyrics to Trickle Down make it the perfect prelude to his masterpiece that followed: Call It Democracy. Every word still burns true.

And then for something completely different: a Bruce-encouraged and orchestrated sing-along to Wondering Where The Lions Are. Once again, Bruce's choir needed a lot of rehearsal time.

The crowd pleasing Last Night Of The World and his brilliant, skyrocketing guitar rendition of World Of Wonders closed the second set. Bruce walked off to a prolonged standing ovation, and returned for an encore trio to treasure in memory.

If I Had A Rocket Launcher was first. No intro -- in light of his earlier comments, none was needed. Once again, Bruce the guitar-god sprang to life during the lengthy break in the middle of the song.

And then a big surprise. Saying that he hadn't played this song in a few years, but in response to a request from someone before the show, and because it seemed to fit our clear warm night setting, we were treated to a flawless Lord of the Starfields. Whew!

Finally, Bruce apologized for ending his show with a song that none of know as a definitive Cockburn classic, he introduced us to the new Messenger Wind. No apology needed, Bruce. Another standing-O as he exited for the evening.

As many who have seen his performances this year have said before, if you get a chance to go to one of his upcoming shows, DON'T MISS IT! We'll be talking about them for years to come.

Randy VanDalsen

The complete setlist.

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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.