I have long been inspired, moved and challenged by the lyrics of Bruce Cockburn, and been further blessed by the sublimely wonderful music those lyrics are wrapped in. Since coming across his work in the 80's at Greenbelt, his songs have been a regular companion; sometimes articulating an experience, sometimes challenging me, and sometimes just being a rich part of the soundtrack of my life.
It's been five years since he was last in the UK and so this week was akin to the proverbial bus. You wait for ages for a [concert] and then three come along at once. I managed to catch him twice at Greenbelt (oh and at his afternoon sound-check for Mainstage) and then again last night at Milton Keynes. It was a wonderful evening in the company of good friends, with Cockburn on fine form.
There were quite a few people there last night who'd been at Greenbelt and were therefore enjoying seeing him again ... but this time in the dry! Compared to the festival, heckling and singing along felt somewhat less appropriate (this didn't stop Haddon bellowing out, "You're the Greatest!!" at one point) but the fantastic acoustic more than made up for a smidgen of formality.
Bruce played a great range of his songs and although majoring on the most recent album, "Small Source of Comfort," there were songs from the 80's on. He played "Fascist Architecture" which I don't think I've heard him do live before , other highlights included "If a Tree Falls," "Last Night of the World" and "Night Train" His guitar playing, needless to say, was astonishingly wonderful, creating a room-filling complex and full sound with melody and percussion.
He ended a two song encore with "Mystery," A great summation of the way that Cockburn sees the world, "Don't tell me there's no mystery ... it's everywhere I turn"
I was really struck by the last lines of this song which felt hugely resonant to me:
"Come on you stumblers who believe love rules .... stand up and let it shine"
Haddon (as you can imagine) loved the concert and was quivering with excitement and happiness. He got to meet Cockburn at the end and now has a much treasured signed album.
I'm also one happy Stumbler, who really does believe 'Love Rules!'