One Man, One Piano, A Thousand Memories

Somebody asked me if I was going to review the Burton Cummings concert I attended Saturday night. The answer is, yes and no.

I had my critic’s hat off for the evening, for the most part. I was there as a fan to relive some teenage memories. Burton delivered on those.

The only real disappointment, which I got over quickly, was the choice to use an electric piano rather than a concert grand. But if he had used the grand piano most of the audience wouldn’t have been able to see his hands, so I guess it was an acceptable tradeoff.

It was a hit-filled show, no obscure album tracks or filler. He stuck close to the original arrangements of the songs, even though it was just him, no band. That I guess dictated to some extent the song choices: guitar driven songs, such as “American Woman,” wouldn’t have come across the same way with only a piano. I might have appreciated some expectation, but I suspect many in the crowd wouldn’t have liked it. And it was all about pleasing the customers.

It was only when the lights came up after the encore (“Share The Land”) that the depth of the man’s repertoire really kicked in. I started thinking about the hit songs that didn’t get played. Then I started to make a list:

With The Guess Who:

These Eyes

American Woman

Bus Rider

Hand Me Down World

Hang On To Your Life

Do You Miss Me Darling


Rain Dance

Heartbroken Bopper

Guns Guns Guns

Follow Your Daughter Home


Glamour Boy

Star Baby

Clap For The Wolfman

Dancin’ Fool

Loves Me Like A Brother


When The Band Was Singing Shakin’ All Over


As a solo artist:

Stand Tall

Timeless Love

My Own Way To Rock

Your Back Yard

I Will Play A Rhapsody

Fine State of Affairs


That’s 25 hit songs that didn’t make it into the show. Some, like “Stand Tall” and “These Eyes” were huge hits that an artist of lesser stature could not possibly drop from the set list. If he had played those 25 songs instead of the ones he did, the sold-out crowd would have been just as happy I think.

Must be tough to decide what to play each night, given the time restraints of a concert. If you play “Laughing” or “Break It To Them Gently,”what do you choose to leave out, and why? I think everyone in attendance was satisfied after Saturday’s show. Maybe some had regrets about not hearing a particular song, but the overall experience would have satisfied even the harshest critic.

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