3 thoughts on “Performers and Portrayers: Live Stuff

  1. I’m assuming this is a thread for live performances we’ve been to? (It’s kinda sad that I don’t really go to live performances very often.)

  2. This is the review I submitted to the Bruce Cockburn mailing list for the July 20 (Friday) show at the Blue Note. I went with Tony and two other HBA colleagues, none of whom were the least bit familiar with BC before I invited them along. Review of the Saturday show forthcoming.


    The show was scheduled for 7. The doors were to open at 6. I got there at 5. I was the first in line. When they let us in, the other three in my party hadn’t arrived yet, but I got us the best table in the house. Right near the stage, one column toward stage right. He’s a right-handed guitarist. I knew where the good seat was, and it was mine.

    The two friends who sat across me had to turn almost 90 degrees, but the view had to have been worth it. The friend sitting next to me had the second-best seat in the house.

    Guitars. Pedals. Tall char. Music stand. Mic. Wind chimes. Short table with a water bottle, and something under a cloth. It didn’t look like the hand drum I hoped to see. It turned out to be the charango.

    We ordered food. The Blue Note has a $10 spending minimum on food and drink. This was my third show in the venue, and the food is good if overpriced, but it’s Waikiki, so you expect that. I ordered a burger and fries with a $9 Heineken. Bruce took the stage while I was two bites in. When the show was over, my friend asked for a doggie bag on my behalf, because there still had only been two bites .

    I didn’t need a doggie bag for the Heineken.

    Here’s the setlist with a few snippets of stage chatter.

    (on the six-string)
    States I’m In
    Last Night of the World

    Bruce mentioned that it had been seven years between studio albums, kind of a long time for him. He said something about “this last album” then corrected himself, saying, “I shouldn’t call it the last album.” He talked about writing the book, then said when it was done, he asked himsef, “Am I still a songwriter, or am I Dashiell Hammett?” He talked about how writing “3 Al Purdys” was sort of his test to see if he could still write songs.

    3 Al Purdys

    “I’m talking too much here,” he said, “but I’m going to continue.”

    For some reason in my notes, I have “Tuning!” with an exclamation point. It was just regular guitar tuning so I’m not sure what I was so enthusicastic about. A bartender in the back of the room shook a cocktail shaker rather loudly, and Bruce said, “Maybe he can do that in time with the music.”

    Cafe Society
    Peggy’s Kitchen Wall
    Pacing the Cage (intro only)

    “I’m going to move this capo down one fret; my voice doesn’t want to go this high.”

    Pacing the Cage

    (switching to electric charango)
    Bone in My Ear
    Mon Chemin

    (switching back to 6-string)

    “It’s very quiet in here.” Followed by song titles yelled out. I decided before the show that I wasn’t going to do this and wished the others weren’t doing it either so Bruce might fill that space with something to talk about, but someone called out for “Red Brother” and I admit I said, “Ooh!”

    If I Had a Rocket Launcher
    Wondering Where the Lions Are
    If a Tree Falls


    “Nobody yelled out Free Bird.”

    (on 12-string)
    Jesus Train

    And that was it. There was a Marlon Wayans performance in the same venue later in the evening, and doors were supposed to open at 9:00. It was getting close to 8:30. The Wayans show was sold out, while Bruce’s show only filled the lower floor. I’m thinking the Wayans show is why we only got one encore song.

    When I got to the signing table, I asked him to sign Bone on Bone and my hardcover Rumors of Glory. I appreciate the advice my Humans gave me for requesting a song, but early in the day, I realized the only thing that mattered was that I enjoy every moment while each moment was there. I snapped a few photos during the show, but no video. Whatever Bruce had to share with us was going to be better than great.

    However, as I thanked him for finally making it out here, I said, “You know, you wrote Live on My Mind in Hawaii.” Just to plant the seed.

    “Did I? Oh yeah. I guess I did. I flew to Maui with Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman for a little songwriting retreat. Bob was too messed up to do any real writing, though, but I guess I got one song out of it. And…well, that’s too long a story. But Bob got one song out of it too, some time later. He used the lyrics I wrote for the verse, and added a chorus.”

    “Oh my gosh! Do you remember the title?”

    He didn’t. But who cares? I got my own private Bruce story! I also felt good because while I was standing in line before the show, I mentioned to line-standers that Bruce had been here with Weir (I’d forgotten Wasserman if I ever knew that), and they were kind of amazed, so amazed that I questioned my own memory of this bit of trivia.

    I said, “I always thought I’d have to get on a plane to see you.”

    Bruce said, “Well I got on a plane to see you.”

    It was a terrific show. Bone in My Ear was always among my least favorite on Dart to the Heart, one of my five favorite Bruce albums, but it really holds up well, and he tears it up on that charango.

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