Bruce Cockburn – live in downtown Seattle – a review

I promised a report on the live Bruce Cockburn show in Seattle on Wednesday, so here it is at last.

Bruce played an intimate set in the beautiful Nordstrom Recital Hall, a smaller venue adjoining Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. He was meditative, less talkative than usual (probably because this is the tour promoting his instrumental collection Speechless.) But his guitar playing was as transporting and gorgeous as ever. When he sang, the songs focused on travel, vehicles, change, violence, and a yearning for the coming day when he will shuffle off this mortal coil.

After performing two new songs about his visit to Baghdad and his frustrations with Dubya, someone shouted, “Play a happy song!” Everyone laughed, and then he smirked and replied, “I’ll play one of the party songs I’m known for…” Hilarious.

Here’s a run-down of the set-list:

Rouler Sa Bosse
Going to the Country
Silver Wheels
Mighty Trucks of Midnight (Second only to “Lord of the Starfields” as my favorite song of his, and it sounded GREAT.)
King Kong Goes to Tallahassee
Wondering Where the Lions Are
If a Tree Falls
Elegy (A glorious, soulful instrumental that would have been right at home on Bill Frisell’s Ghost Town.)

Wait No More
Water into Wine
All the Ways I Want You
Put It In Your Heart
This is Baghdad (A broad-stroke, simplistic summation of the Iraq War as AMERICA BAD AND EVIL/IRAQIS SCARED AND VULNERABLE. He probably could have written this after reading any Bush-bashing editorial; not sure why he had to go to Baghdad to find these lyrics.)
Tell the Universe (Or better, TELL THE UNIVERSE DUBYA IS A BASTARD.)
After the Rain
Last Night of the World
The End of All Rivers (One of the highlights, an energetic instrumental fed through an echo box that created a spellbinding loop, so it sounded like three dueling guitars.)
Messenger Wind
If I Had a Rocket Launcher
Pacing the Cage (Exquisite, brought tears to many eyes, mine included.)
Mistress of Storms
Mystery (A delightful new folky singalong-style song. “I was built on a Friday and you can’t fix me/ you can’t fix me/ you can’t fix me.”)

You can see recent photos and other information about recent shows at

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  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    It bemuses me that people still make the gross generalization that “christians feel an affinity for George Bush” when the truth is that many Christians disagree strongly over the President and his policies. Moreover, if past presidents hadn’t “taken risks” and “created plans” that led to the deaths of others, our country wouldn’t exist, and neither would this complainant.

  • Anonymous

    It bemuses me that christians feel an affinity for George Bush…who cares about that guy. He’s willing to take risks and create plans that kill people. Thank you Cockburn for, in broad strokes or not, speaking up.

  • Neb

    Thanks for the report. If I’d been paying attention and had the dough I would have been there…dang. Cockburn is about the only modern Christian artist/musician I have any time for. He’s brilliant. The Bush-bashing stuff is irritating, but he’s entitled to his opinion (even if it’s overly simplistic re. politics). I’m not a 100% Bush lover or anything, but things are way more complicated then we can possibly know, and I really get tired of the “Evil America” thing.