Bruce in The 'Peg
By Murray Harrison
A Humans point of view

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8 April 2011 - Murray Harrison, a long time Human, gives his impressions of the 5 April 2011 - Burton Cummings Theatre - Winnipeg, MB, Canada show.

This show rated pretty well among the 27 Bruce shows I've seen since 1980, though it does help obviously in enhancing your enjoyment when you get lucky enough to be in front row centre. I have to say I do like the new CD [Small Source of Comfort]. Other than maybe only one or two tracks, overall I like the writing, sensitivity and instrumentation arrangement, and the fact it has 5 instrumentals makes it unique in that respect, with the instrumentals all being stellar pieces, in my opinion.

I can't be as complimentary about the venue though. Quite shabby -- I'd never been to the Burton Cummings Theatre. I was unfamiliar with this place until I realized it was the former Walker Theatre, and before that an Odeon movie theatre. We are in flood watch season here in Manitoba, and I also had to deal with the flood of beer which the guy behind me kept spilling under my seat where I'd stored my bag of Bruce items for signing. Thankfully I discovered the beer river in time before my entire bag was soaked. I could have used some floodway protection.

I was recalling the 1997 Charity tour in which I also had front row centre seats at a better venue here, at the same time of year when that monumental flood came, and Bruce had donated half the show's take to flood relief. And I was feeling nostalgic also at being at my first Winnipeg Bruce show since moving back from Ontario after being away six years. If I hope to reach 30 shows, I'll probably have to go out of province since some of the tours seem to bypass Winnipeg. Someone told me the show was not a sellout (970), and that previous years' shows had not been either. I really hope the next time is at a better venue. I don't know if this place was booked out of choice, or because a better venue was not available.

Bruce Cockburn 5 April 2011 Winnipeg - Photo by Murray Harrison

However, an upside was that the staff didn't seem to care that I took about 16 pictures from a prime location and wound up with some pretty good shots, whereas in my experience most places monitor this closely and prevent it.

The set:
1. Last Night of the World
2. Mango - - included a long violin solo, which accentuated the presentation significantly. Jenny added a lot to this show on several songs, filling things out with great atmosphere. Occasionally, I kept thinking of Hugh Marsh in the 80s. Some of those violin strains just produced that nostalgia.
3. Lovers in a Dangerous Time - - I have heard this so many times, in various arrangements, and yet this time it sounded noticeably different because of the violin and whatever it was Gary Craig was doing on percussion.
4. Tokyo
5. 5:51 [Five Fifty One] - - (12 string). Excellent. One of my faves of the night. Good violin solo, great percussion and band instrumental. Some nice punch on this.
6. Call Me Rose (12 string)
7. Put It in Your Heart (12 str) - - searing violin solo.
8. Bone in My Ear - - (charango, the 10-string instrument he first used on Lily of the Midnight Sky on the '86 WOW [ World of Wonders tour). Again, very nice violin, really embellished the song, making it extra bittersweet, with beautiful atmosphere. This may be the best version of this tune I've heard - - in my opinion, it may top its original appearance on the '94 [ Dart to the Heart tour.
9. Driving Away (6 str) - - just tugs at your heart, this one, moreso for me also because it's new.
10. Boundless (6 str, chimes) - - another good violin section.
11. Albert - - Jenny's song, a group instrumental, including chimes.
12. The Littlest Prisoner - - a foot stompin' tune sung by Jenny. About as close as some bellowing crowd members repeatedly calling for Peggy's Kitchen Wall would ever get.
13. Call It Democracy
14. Each One Lost - - speaks for itself.
15. Wondering Where the Lions Are
Bruce Cockburn 5 April 2011 Winnipeg - Photo by Murray Harrison 16. Arrows of Light - - dulcimer. Always love the oldies coming off the shelf. Gary Craig thoroughly enjoying this. A great, long violin solo.
17. If a Tree Falls - - a strong version, with the guitar soloing which I never tire of, again made even more interesting and different with the violin solo.
18. Lois on the Autobahn - - perhaps my favourite of the new instrumentals.
19. All the Diamonds (baritone) - - made more appropriate by the fact this show was associated with the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the first festival being in 1974, which Bruce played at, and the song was also from the same year.
20. Tie Me at the Crossroads - - what I remember about this was the piercing scream let loose by the woman behing me after it finished. Went through my temple like a nail.
21. Gifts

Aside notes : an old friend I hadn't seen in about 10 years came up to me and thanked me for having given him a tape some 12 years ago of my guitar renditions of 70s BC instrumentals. It seemed to influence him to get interested in Bruce and was now coming to his first Bruce show. I also got rid of my extra ticket to another first-time Bruce attendee who thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Lastly, meeting Bruce. First, what to get signed. I had to side with what I guess I have to call my favourite album, Dragons Jaws. Also brought along Humans in case I changed my mind. I kept thinking - well, what to say? I'd met Bruce once before, in 1983, at a church in Toronto after he'd returned from Nicaragua and gave talks about the experience and did about 6 songs. At that time I got a few minutes and we talked general politics, and I made some reference to the Trouble with Normal. This time (28 years later) was a completely different context, and Bruce has, what, "mellowed" out more, relaxed some?

This was also unique because in all the years I've been going to Bruce shows, I've never seen any autograph signings intentionally being set up. We know he just shies away from that fandom thing, would rather deflect admiring attention away from himself. That being the case, I was very surprised that he was intentionally offering to sign at the shows. But I kept thinking I didn't want to say anything "fan-like" or impose anything like that, stay too long, hold up the line, start babbling without direction, etc., and I really had no special, interesting thing to say. I had it in mind to thank him for pulling out some oldies for the show, but I think I forgot to say that.

The few minutes seemed to largely be a blur after the fact. I just gave him my Dragons vinyl LP cover and said I wasn't sure which album to choose for signing because he had so many, and he simply replied that they do tend to pile up. He remarked I was giving him something old to sign - - I think I may have been the only one or one of very few who'd brought an LP, and an older one at that. Most people seemed to be getting ticket stubs and table bought recent CDs signed. I also asked if he'd mind signing my Humans CD, which he graciously did ("no problem at all").

Most people were getting photo-ops with Bruce, so I asked for the same, which he again was glad to do. I really wanted to thank Bruce for taking the time to sign and pose, and said thanks for indulging us. He seemed quite comfortable in saying it was no problem at all. Again, it just seems strange, because for these many years he has never seemed like the type who would want to have a signing / photo-op setup, simply because he does not appear comfortable with adulation.

Anyway, I wish I could have thought of something meaningful or interesting to say, but seemed to draw a blank for the most part. What did strike me about the few minutes though is the fact that alongside the sometimes angry, forceful song lyrics, there is a warm, gentle spirit that Bruce seems to project when you meet him, which also comes out in the songs.

And this must be why I keep coming back. ~ Murray Harrison

5 April 2011 - Burton Cummings Theatre - Winnipeg - Setlist

~bobbi wisby

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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.