Report on the 24 July 2002 show at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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30 July 2002 -- This is the 8th in the series of On My Beat reports, and comes to us from friend of the Project, Doug Stacey, who was fortunate enough to see Bruce for a 4th time on the Anything Anytime Anywhere tour!

24 July 2002 -- My dinner with Andre... Well actually, it should be 'my conversation with Bernie' but more about that in a minute.

Ticket stub from the Pabst Theater Turned out to be a much different show than expected for those going to see Bruce at the beautiful old (1895) Pabst Theater in Milwaukee tonight. We walked up to the doors a bit before 7pm to see signs on the door that Shawn Colvin had cancelled. Someone came out from the theater and said that her flight was cancelled and that we could get our money back at place of purchase OR stay and see Bruce do two sets instead of one. They had someone out the whole night repeating that but by the time the show started, I didn't see but a few empty seats.

Bruce did what was a pretty standard two set show from the tour this past March with a couple of exceptions. He put Mama Just Wants to Barrelhouse at the end of the first set, pretty much in place of Pacing the Cage, which he then did not play. From the new songs he put in Open, Trickle Down, and Messenger Wind. And he finished the second encore and closed with Closer To the Light, which was a surprise. Another highlight was Rocket Launcher [If I Had A Rocket Launcher] with a new "Rumours" [Rumours Of Glory] type opening on guitar. Very nice.

He had some interesting exchanges with the audience. After doing Dreams [Dream Like Mine] first he said he wished now that he knew some Shawn Colvin songs but that he didn't. Someone assured him that we had come to see him and he said "I've already seen me, I wanted to see Shawn".

During Give it Away [When You Give It Away] there were actually hoots and shouts of joy from the audience. When the song ended he said "in case anyone is in danger of being too happy, we'll move it to the mournful". Someone yelled out something about not missing the show when he came in his bus (as opposed to Shawn in the plane). He recalled the time they had to sit for a few days waiting to get over the Rockies because of the snow. He told how the Canadian army would come and shoot at the snow to make it fall, that this was in fact all they had to do before Afghanistan, and that at the lowest pass of the Rockies in Canada back in the 30s the side of the mountain actually gave way and buried buses and cars under there. Not snow but the earth. He surmised that there isn't much you can do about that except maybe blast the side of the mountain with laser beams from space. He noted that he digressed and then proceeded into All the Ways [All The Ways I Want You].

Someone yelled out something about Dick Chaney and that started him on this long bit about how Chaney doesn't show up any more and maybe he's actually Elvis and did you ever notice that Elvis doesn't show up now much either given that Chaney has to be in hiding all the time. He also did his little rant about Farwell before he played Put It In Your Heart only this time he actually pretended he was Farwell and, he said Jimmy Swaggart but meant Pat Robinson I'm sure but he imitated Farwell being on TV and blaming gays, lesbians and abortions for the WTC attack and then Jimmy answering him. He ended it with "where is Osama when you need the fucker".

That's about all the notes I took. Sorry it's not a great description of the mood of the show but I guess I'm more into documenting what went on rather than how it all felt! Suffice it to say both Bruce and the audience seemed to be having a great time. I know I did!

Oh yeah, before the show I was out front and noticed Bernie [Bernie Finkelstien, Burce's long time manager] standing in front of the theater, down the street a little bit. I figured I'd go speak with him, it was the first time I can remember seeing him at a show. I walked up and said something like "so we get a full show tonight" just to see how receptive he was to chatting and he was fine. He said that Shawn had booked the last plane out of Dallas that would get her there on time and that they cancelled the flight and the next one would be too late. He sort of chided her for cutting it so close. Said Bruce didn't mind though and he'd just do a full show. We chatted a bit about how these two dates (Milwaukee and Chicago) came about. He said he isn't really "on tour" but rather hitting a bunch of festivals this summer (which I guess is obvious). He said folks in Chicago wanted him to come play with Shawn and they decided that if they were going to do it, they might as well book another one at the same time nearby and they just did Madison in March so they decided to see if Milwaukee had any interest. Lucky us!

We talked some about the shows he has done recently. I said "Reno"? and he chuckled and said it was a great show. He said they could have played a casino but chose a small outdoor venue and sold the place out. He seemed very happy with it. I then moved on to "what about a new album"? He said that Bruce was booked to record in October and November and that it could run into December if needed. He said that plans were that the CD would come out sometime between April and June and that he would embark on an "extensive" tour about a month after the CD is released. Said that this year they barely played south of Philly but next year it would be different. Mentioned something about not being in Texas for awhile as if that would happen.

I told him I had been a big fan for a long time and then thanked him and left him alone. Seemed like a very nice guy.

Doug Stacey

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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.