Saturday, December 6, 2008
The River Rock Show Theatre
Richmond, BC Canada
***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
As true pioneers of Canadian rock, The Guess Who are a jewel in the crown of this country. The band’s musical legacy stretches far beyond the “classic” period of 1968 through 1974 when albums like SHARE THE LAND, CANNED WHEAT and AMERICAN WOMAN spawned numerous singles that remain staples of classic rock radio four decades later.
Burton Cummings was the vocalist of that band for eight years and following his departure in 1975, he embarked on a successful solo career that, while not as consistent as his work with The Guess Who, earned him plenty of notoriety in the late seventies. The eighties and nineties were not kind to Cummings commercially-speaking but he continued releasing albums sporadically, as well as making appearances with guitarist Randy Bachman during a reunion of The Guess Who over the past few years.
Cummings is riding high again with the release of ABOVE THE GROUND, his first solo album since 1990’s PLUS SIGNS. At 61 years old, the musical climate is against him but Cummings is defying the odds by maintaining a solid chart position at iTunes and on Amazon for online sales. To promote the new record, Cummings hit Richmond’s River Rock Show Theatre for a sold-out show (the second of two in the area) packed with solo hits, new material and favorites from The Guess Who.
As his backing band, Cummings employed The Carpet Frogs, a Toronto-based group with a pair of albums under its belt, that helped him record ABOVE THE GROUND. Cummings’ voice is still in remarkable shape and, physically, he looks almost identical to what he did thirty years ago. Clad in a t-shirt emblazoned with the cover art of The Beatles’ ABBEY ROAD album, he is an engaging storyteller, too, filling the gaps between songs with interesting and amusing tales, not unlike what he did on his own UP CLOSE AND ALONE live acoustic record in 1997. Besides a Buffalo Springfield cover and a dusty cover of an old song by The Equals, Cummings played the material that his fans were familiar with. Delving into more obscure tracks like “Timeless Love” and “Glamour Boy” kept Cummings’ diehard fans happy but the biggest response, of course, came from the hits as “American Woman,” “Laughing,” “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature,” “My Own Way To Rock” and “Clap For The Wolfman” kept the crowd on its feet. Even the three new songs from ABOVE THE GROUND were warmly received with the acapella version of “Rollaway,” an ode to a bed on wheels, getting the most attention. “Break It To Them Gently” featured a medley of classic rock staples in the middle break hearkening back to Cummings’ own influences, but it was his intro to “These Eyes” as “the song that changed the lives of five guys from Manitoba” that really was the understatement of the evening. Set closer “Share The Land” had a significant portion of the crowd at the edge of the stage, singing arm in arm, to the peacenik lyrics that are as true today as they were when they were written in 1970.
We Just Came From The U.S.A.
Clap For The Wolfman
Baby Come Back (The Equals cover)
Hand Me Down World
Gordon Lightfoot Sings Maggie May
Above The Ground
No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature
For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield cover)
My Own Way To Rock
Break It To Them Gently
I Will Play A Rhapsody
Share The Land
Burton Cummings is one of Canada’s legendary performers and for two hours, he kept the crowd enraptured, clapping and dancing along to the endless cavalcade of hits he performed. Endlessly gracious, humble and enthusiastic, this icon has forged ahead into the twenty-first century with a successful new record without ever forgetting his roots. Talent and class is a rare combination these days but Burton Cummings maintains those credentials without fault.
***Thanks to Donnie at Great Canadian Casinos for the press pass.
Burton Cummings—Official Site