On April 15th, 2011 I saw Bruce Cockburn at the soft-seat hexagon that is the National Arts Centre. It’s a pretty great room to see a performer like Cockburn, that is once you manage to get up and down the unforgivable slanted staircases that run throughout the venue in strict adherence to the architects apparent love of the six-sided polygon.
Aside from being a Canadian icon with a vast back catalogue that keeps a guy like me thinking, “oh yeah, there’s that song too” all night, Bruce Cockburn is just a stunningly great (if subtle) guitar player. He’s also one of those rare artists that you can be proud of; he’s a lifetime environmentalist and all-around do-gooder who walks the walk. Or bikes the walk I guess; I saw him once at a sparsely attended Sisters Euclid show at the Orbit Room in Toronto one evening and after the show old carbon-footprint-free Cockburn went outside, unlocked his bicycle and rode off into the night.
He played all of the hits I could remember at this show – though I’m sure he has many more that slipped my mind – including the song m’lady and I were hoping most to hear: Wondering Where The Lions Are. We’ve been fortunate to go on a few safaris in Africa where we would often catch ourselves singing the song’s chorus over and over on an endless loop. The only times we’d stop humming the Cockburn song was when we’d actually come upon a pride.
Hearing Cockburn playing our earworm was so very satisfying, as was the rest of his immaculately played set. After the well-deserved standing ovation it was just a short Spring stroll along the canal for us to get home, and I’m sure we hummed our favourite little chorus the whole way.