Bruce Cockburn played at the Aladdin Theatre on January 31st, 2018.
by Jon Wiley
Apparently a college reviewer’s lifetime stitched with rough and tumble, “rub-some-dirt-in-it” masculinity manifested in beard growth, flannel purchases and cigarettes can be unwound by just twelve strings. Bruce Cockburn is the only way I cry any more. I read the back of his records like poem anthologies. I’ve tuned every guitar I’ve ever owned wide open just to play “Soul of a Man.”
The crowd is noticeably older than when I attended last in a baby-backpack on my dad’s back. Cockburn himself is getting older as well, and his initial walk from behind the stage out to his stool was both heartbreakingly paced, but full of memory.
When his guitar began to speak, any thoughts of age were put to rest. My god, I guess if you play an instrument for forty years you get pretty good at it. Old riffs sounded freshly minted. Classic numbers are sung low in the chests of teary eyed men wiping the corners of their eyes out of view of their wives.
Never has his music felt more relevant. Environmental crises, economic imbalance, gender and equality, and most importantly, public ignorance. At moments, it feels as though the entire Aladdin Theatre was simply not enough people to be hearing his crucial message at one time; as if a twenty-four-hour broadcast was required to begin to alleviate pains, inspire the young, and call out the bigots.
You can listen to his newest record Bone on Bone on streaming services, or (recommended) you can purchase his vinyl at his website.