Admittedly, there were a lot of choices available on this particular Saturday evening, and that may have hurt the attendance some, as it appeared the Hart Theater was only about 1/2 to 2/3 full, but that didn’t take away from the show at all. Except for the superfan sitting next to me who elbowed me at least twice, and had the loudest plastic bag of candy he could find, I still had a wonderful time.
Opening the show was Jenny Scheinman – also a part of the Bruce Cockburn trio – performing, for the most part, solo. Rather than using the bow, Scheinman began strumming the fiddle for the first two songs of her 40-minute set. While she also had a couple of mandolins with her on the stage, this more muted sound of having only four strings rather than eight gave her songs a more pensive sound that fit her voice quite well. This was most evident on the song “Brother.” Surprisingly, though, this product of a folk family also had quite the collection of electronic pedals – at one point making her fiddle sound like a woodwind instrument. She closed her set accompanied by another member of the trio, Gary Craig on djimbe and box (an instrument that is its own seat), for the last two selections – an interesting song about domestic violence and the instrumental “Suza.”
After a short intermission, 2001 Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Cockburn said a quick “good evening” and launched directly into “Last Night of the World.” Cockburn went from song to song without a great deal of talking. He did, occasionally, pause to tell stories about some of his songs, such as his trip to Afghanistan to visit some Canadian troops (including his brother) and how it led to “Each One Lost” – the verses reminded me of a prairie church singing a hymn while the chorus was more thought provoking, without being preachy, as we were reminded of the importance of each life.
Cockburn stepped back to let Scheinman sing “The Littlest Prisoner,” a poignant song she wrote about a baby born in prison. After which someone in the audience yelled she should be on every tour. As Cockburn was beginning to agree with the sentiment, superfan’s wife piped in with the quite obvious “because she’s good” (another in a long list of obvious statements they made).
Throughout the nearly two-hour set, Craig was outstanding on drums. Not only was he keeping a solid beat (unlike my neighbors), but his strokes added, and sometimes created, the tone of the songs.
The night just flew by, and I look forward to the next time Cockburn comes to the area, especially if he brings that same group of musicians. Although a few of his songs were quite political in nature, most were just simply well constructed and beautiful, as he went from light jazz to folk and rock.
Review by Ed Conway
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Michael Eck’s review at The Times Union
Excerpt from Michael Hochanadel’s review at The Daily Gazette: “They powered the show to its musical and message-delivery-system peak late in the 140-minute set with ‘Call it Democracy,’ Cockburn’s angriest song and still dismayingly apt today; ‘Each One Lost,’ his saddest song, mourning each war casualty as a loss to us all; ‘Wondering Where the Lions Are,’ his most skillful-ever combination of words and melody; the dulcimer-powered — well, actually violin-powered — ‘Arrows’; and the ecology-disaster lament ‘If a Tree Falls in the Forest.’ Then came generous encores.”
BRUCE COCKBURN SET LIST
Last Night of the World
Lovers in a Dangerous Time
Call Me Rose
Pacing the Cage
The Littlest Prisoner (Scheinman)
Call It a Democracy
Each One Lost
Wondering Where the Lions Are
Arrows of Light
If a Tree Falls
Comets of Kandhar
All the Diamonds