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:
Hand Me Down World
Hang On To Your Life
Do You Miss Me Darling
Guns Guns Guns
Follow Your Daughter Home
Clap For The Wolfman
Loves Me Like A Brother
When The Band Was Singing Shakin’ All Over
As a solo artist:
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.