GENERAL INFORMATIONDATE: 22 May 2008
SETLIST (possibly wrong order)
Submitted by Lee Rutty
I was at the show last night and as usual it was great. One highlight was a new song. Bruce introduced it: "You in the mood for something new? [applause] This one's a bit speculative. This is the first time it's been played in front of actual humans. At least actual humans who paid to be there." He didn't give a title; the song was about a city, some of the lines I recall were "The city's hungry tonight", "A river trapped in concrete" and "A man sits on a park bench/His face in a paper bag". He said the song was "born in Brooklyn" and that it was "about another city". Presumably NYC. The music was sultry and dark, and it sounded like it would have been at home on The Charity Of Night or Breakfast In New Orleans, Dinner In Timbuktu. It was very good, although there was a guitar solo about two thirds in that sounded like it was still a little sketchy; it was the only time I've ever seen Bruce's fingers look like they're tripping over each other. Once it's all worked out it'll be another great song and it was an honour to be in the first audience to hear it.
When Bruce came out his hair was a bit puffed up, I don't know if it's a new hairstyle or if it was windblown. My wife said to me that he looked "like Rick Moranis playing Bruce Cockburn." His voice was a bit weak for the first few songs. After each song he would shrug his eyebrows as if to say "well, I got through that one ok" and cough to clear his throat. His voice got stronger as the set progressed and he was in top form by halfway through. The show lasted exactly an hour and forty minutes. The highlights, for me, other than the new song, were Pacing The Cage, World Of Wonders and Soul Of A Man.
Bruce keeps coming back to Portland, despite the fact that we can never muster more than about 150 or 200 people in the audience. He always plays in a church, this was the third time I've seen him in this one. It's the perfect setting to see him, but I can't imagine what's in it for him with such a small crowd. It's great that he keeps coming though.
I don't know if they were recording or not, I heard that this part of the tour would be recorded for an upcoming live cd. I hope so, to get the early version of the new song.
Catherine MacLellan was great too. First time I've ever seen Bruce with an opening act.
Dan Bostdorf contributed the photos and the following alternative viewpoint:
We’re long time Bruce Cockburn fans, dating back to the 1980s. We've seen Bruce in concert at least ten times in New England, and also in Montreal and Amsterdam. His concert Friday night in Portland Maine was unfortunately a disappointment.
His opening act - singer Catherine Maclellan - appeared on stage at least fifteen minutes after the scheduled 8 p.m. concert, and sang about five songs. She has a pleasant voice but no modulations from high to low. Her originals were contemplative and personal. Then, instead of her introducing Bruce – or him joining her on stage and thanking her, what followed was more than a half hour of chatter among the audience, while we waited, and waited, for Bruce to appear.
He opened with an instrumental, and sang for about an hour of some new songs, instrumentals and a couple of old standards. And that was it. After just one encore - the best song of the night Pacing The Cage - the house lights came up, and he was gone.
While he sang a short program, and seemed tired, and at times distracted, most disturbing was his interaction with the audience. With all that is going on in the world, his up and coming concert to aid in the effort to stop children from being used in war, he chose to talk abut an interaction he had with "bums" in Kingston, Ontario who told him they had all his CDs. A long anecdote ended with Bruce questioning why people with all his CDs would be asking for money. His little anecdote was more in keeping with something we'd expect from Jay Leno or David Letterman. While we're very far from politically correct, we consider satirizing bums - aka the homeless - and for the most part a population that is mentally ill, way beneath Bruce's baseline.
On a personal note, we traveled 1,700 miles one way to Portland from San Juan Puerto Rico JUST to attend the May 22nd concert and celebrate our 35th anniversary. Back in our Portland Hotel room, after the concert, we drank champagne and toasted the endurance of our relationship. We also wondered aloud about our long time icon. Perhaps he was finally kidnapped and replaced on stage that night by a CIA or NSA-supplied body double?
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